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Boletopsis grisea (Peck) Bondartsev & Singer

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Scientific name
Boletopsis grisea
(Peck) Bondartsev & Singer
Common names
grey falsebolete
hrboľnačka sivá
szaraczek sosnowy
grå troldporesvamp
Hall hundiseenik
hrbolatka hnědá
Grauer Rußporling
Болетопсис серый
Pelēkā bekupiepe
Pelēkā bekupiepe
IUCN Specialist Group
Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball
Assessment status
Assessment date
IUCN Red List Category
Dahlberg, A., von Bonsdorff, T. & Brandrud, T.-E.
Svetasheva, T.

Assessment Notes

The content on this page is fetched from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/58521185/58521192


Boletopsis grisea forms ectomycorrhiza with Pinus sylvestris and grows mainly on dry and nutrient poor sedimentary soils in open pine forests, possibly favoured by fire. It occurs mainly in older, not clear-cut forests, both virgin and thinned forests. Boletopsis grisea is a well-known indicator species for long continuity of old-growth forests with high conservation value. Usually only a few mature individuals occur at each location. Individuals are considered to be very old and re-establishment of the species appears to be rare after clear-cutting. It is rarely found in pine plantations. It has been and is being negatively impacted by clear cutting and reducing areas of Scots pine old growth outside protected areas. Probably favoured by green tree retention forestry and veteran trees. Is estimated to have declined and to be continuously declining at the global scale due to decreasing area of old growth pine forests and an apparent poor ability to spread and re-establish in managed forest after clear-cutting. 

Large scale modern forest management/clear-cutting operating in Fennoscandia, Russia and also in North America have significantly reduced and will continuously significantly reduce the potential amount of habitat. In Fennoscandia, the past, ongoing and future population decline inferred from habitat change, i.e. clear cutting, been estimated from forest statistics of potential habitat decline to be at least 15-30% in a 50-year period (three generations according to the recommendation of Dahlberg and Mueller 2011).

The species is, thus, globally assessed as NT (A2c+3c+4c) on account of the decline of its population size and habitat as indicated above.

Taxonomic notes

A very similar species, Boletopsis watlingii (= B. perplexa) was only described in 2006 (Watling and Milne 2006).

In this assessment we treat Boletopsis grisea as a complex consisting of at least two genetically different taxa (Boletopsis grisea and B. watlingii ). Their morphologies are very similar and difficult to differentiate in the field.

Geographic range

The species is widely distributed in boreal parts of Europe, Asia and North America. Its main distribution in Europe is Fennoscandia and Russia (seven regions in European part and two regions in Ural and three regions in Siberia (Asia)). It also occurs more scattered in central and SW Europe. The distribution is less well known in Asia and North America (western and eastern USA and Canada).

Population and Trends

The species mostly occurs in boreal old-growth dry lichen dominated sandy forests of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) with the majority of the European localities known from Sweden and Finland and a possibly high number in Russia. In Fennoscandia is known from approx. 300 localities (50 in Norway, 100 in Sweden and 150 Finland). Not less than 100 localities are assumed to be in Russia. In North America the estimation is approx. 40 localities (GBIF 2019). There are then a total of 440 known localities, that with the not known localities could be five times more this number (2,200 localities globally estimated). The global population size is then calculated to be 22,000 (typically finding 10 mature individuals in each site).

Forest where it occurs are primarily threatened by clear-cutting and possibly it is also negatively affected by nitrogen fertilization of forests. The species seems to have poor ability to spread and establish in forest after clear-cutting. This is probably due to increasingly low proportion of old-growth-pine-forest where it occurs and hence lower likeliness of the species to re-establish from spores. It may also depend on that the species is considered to form long-lived individual mycelia, probably several decades and possibly several centuries old and that it evolutionary has been selected to have a slow population dynamics.

Historically, boreal forest fires commonly have been low-intense with a high degree of tree survival, and hence with a high likeliness for mycelia of ectomycorrhizal fungi to be very old. In Fennoscandia, old-growth pine forest is estimated to have declined >15% since 1960 during the last 50 years (Svensson et al. 2019 from Sweden, Kotiaho 2017 from Finland). Clear-cutting management was introduced in large scale in these countries around 1950 and on average 1% of the productive forest land is clear-cut annually. Boletopsis grisea is yet only rarely observed in forest resulting from clear-cutting, hence close to seed trees or retention trees.

Population Trend: decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Boletopsis grisea forms ectomycorrhiza with Pinus spp., in particular Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). It is common, but typically with only a few mycelia per stand in old-growth pine forests on sediment/sandy soils. Occurs predominately in open nutrient poor pine forests with lichens and ericaceous (Calluna and Vaccinium) undergrowth vegetation on dry acidic sandy soils. In Poland the fungus also was known to occur on inland sand dunes with pine. In France, it is reported in pine forests mixed with Cedrus.

The mycelium of the fungus is considered to be long-lived, potentially several decades to centuries, comparable to its host pine trees (Dahlberg and Mueller 2011). The mycelia of the fungus survive forest fires if their associated old tree survives.


Boletopsis grisea is primarily threatened by clear-cutting of old-growth pine forests (for decline of old-growth (pine) forests, see e.g. Svensson et al. 2019 from Sweden, Kotiaho 2017 from Finland). It is rarely observed in forest regenerated after clear-cutting. Hence conversion of old growth forests to managed forest, i.e. reduced amount of habitat, is the main cause of the decline. It is also negatively affected by nitrogen eutrophication of sandy pine forests, as well as by areal loss (expansion of urban settlements, military areas, roads etc.); see Brandrud and Bendiksen (2014) with references.

The major part of the potential pine habitat is in northern Europe and some parts of Russia. Around 1% of the forest is cut annually, so a conservative estimate of the potential decline of appropriate habitat is approximately 30% over 50 year period (three generations) taking into account uncertainties of numbers and size of subpopulations and rates of forest cutting in Russia and North America. It is possibly negatively affected by nitrogen fertilization of forests along with increased atmospheric nitrogen deposition (Dahlberg and Croneborg 2003).

Conservation Actions

Present in the Red Lists of Czechia NT, Denmark RE (2010), Finland NT (2010), Norway VU (2010), Poland EN (2006), Slovakia suggested to be nationally included in the Red List, Sweden VU (2010), Switzerland EN, 2010 and suggested to be included in the Red Lists in France, Germany and Slovakia. Also included in the Red Data Books of five regions of Russia. It is strictly protected by law in Poland.

Being an ectomycorrhizal fungus, B. grisea is dependent on its obligate association with pines. Although the sporocarps are short-lived, its soil-dwelling mycelia is perennial and potentially lives several decades or even centuries. With a continuity of mature Scots pine trees at a location, the mycelia can be older than the trees. It is not known why it appears not to colonize and establish in highly managed Scots pine plantations. Therefore, an appropriate conservation action is to maintain living trees and stands where it occurs to act as reserves. The fungus is adapted to withstand the regular, typically low intensity fires in boreal forests where a significant number of trees survive along with much of its the fungal mycelia that is associated with the trees.

Recommended Action: Set aside Scots pine forest reserves where the species have good subpopulations. At these forests, natural or prescribed burning should be considered to maintain desired forest dynamics.

It is possible that B. grisea can survive timber cutting if a sufficient number and density of retention trees are preserved in a managed forest. In this case it will be critical to ensure that as many retention trees as possible are located where the mycelia of the fungus are growing, e.g. where the sporocarps have been observed.

A better understanding of the specie’s population dynamic would facilitate a better management, e.g.at what conditions it may establish, the demographic structure within populations and the pattern (and causes) of individual mycelia. Also to what degree seed trees and retention trees in managed forest may maintain the species at locations. It is also recommended the establishment of new protected areas.

Use and Trade

The species is not used.

Source and Citation

Dahlberg, A., von Bonsdorff, T. & Brandrud, T.-E. 2019. Boletopsis grisea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T58521185A58521192. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T58521185A58521192.en .Accessed on 3 February 2024

Country occurrence