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  • Under Assessment
  • LCPreliminary Assessed
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Alloclavaria purpurea (Fr.) Dentinger & D.J. McLaughlin

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Scientific name
Alloclavaria purpurea
(Fr.) Dentinger & D.J. McLaughlin
Common names
Purple Spindles
Purpurfarbene Keule
kyjanka purpurová
Goździeniec purpurowy
IUCN Specialist Group
Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball
Incertae sedis
Incertae sedis
Assessment status
Preliminary Assessed
Preliminary Category
Proposed by
Anders Dahlberg
Louis Mielke
Ellen Larsson, Bryn Dentinger
Comments etc.
Irmgard Krisai-Greilhuber, Izabela L. Kalucka, Anders Dahlberg

Assessment Notes


Alloclavaria purpurea is a widespread coral fungus found in boreal and alpine forests and it is suspected to be biotrophic. Populations are distributed across northern reginos of North America and Eurasia and they seem to be stable across northeastern Canada, Norway and Finland, but there is a region decline estimated in Sweden. At its southern distributions in central Europe, it appears to be nearing regional extinction and the status is unclear in Russia. The moist and fertile forest habitats are threathened and the climate may affect future populations. However, given the large population size and stability in some regions, we have overall assessed as it as Least Concern (LC).

Taxonomic notes

Alloclavaria purpurea (Fr.) B.T. Dentinger & D.J. McLaughlin was separated into a new genus, as the type, based on phylogenetic and morphological evidence from 2006. Alloclavaria, or ‘‘the other Clavaria,’’ refers to the morphologically similar genus and basionym of the type species Clavaria purpurea (Fries).

A. purpurea is a coral-like, club fungus with unbranched spindles which usually grow tufted and frequently in large numbers. The spindles are very fragile, cylindrical or flattened with a longitudinal central groove. They can be hollow, twisted and pointed at the top. The coloration is first grey-violet and then later light grey-brown as it matures. The spindle surface can be slightly wrinkled and a defining feature is that it has hymenial cystidia, which distinguishes it from Clavaria. It is possible that A. purpurea remains a species complex and there may be additional species included in the genus (e.g., Clavaria indica and C. nebulosoides). The purple coral fungus Clavaria zollingeri Lév. (1846) is vaguely similar to an untrained eye but it is most clearly distinguished because it is moderately branched. Alloclavaria orientalis, a sister species, is described from Japan (Deng et al., 2023).

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

Alloclavaria purpura remains one of two species in the genus. There is limited knowledge of its ecology, but appears to be most commonly found in boreal and/or alpine ecosystems. It is not a Mediterranean taxa, but being assessed during this initiative.

Geographic range

Alloclavaria purpurea is widespread in temperate and boreal forests in northern latitudes and alpine ecosystems, typically in moist and mineral rich coniferous forests. In North America, populations appear to be concentrated on the West coast, Rocky Mountains, around the Great Lakes region and additionally on the East coast.  In Europe, observations appear to be concentrated in northern regions such as Scandanavia and Russia with endangered or extirpated populations to the south in central Europe. A. purpurea is reported to occur in Japan and China, but these records need to be checked.

Population and Trends

Given the large estimated population size and the widespread occurrence in boreal regions, this taxon is listed as Least Concern; however, the estimated decline varies across regions. Stable populations in Finland and Norway suggest that this species is not threatened while declining suitable habitat in Sweden over the last 50 years indicates otherwise. In North America, populations appear to be stable in the northeast, but interior regions, such as on the east side of the Canadian Rockies, may be vulnerable. Earlier records in more southern, temperate regions that have not been found suggests that this species could be prone to changes in climate and land use change and should be reevaluated in the near future.

Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology

Alloclavaria purpurea is widespread and most commonly found in boreal forests. It is particularly fond of humid spruce forests with mineral-rich soils. Sometimes it has been found in grassy forest glades and more frequently in moist moss mats. It can be found in oversilted spruce swamp forests and at the bottom of ravines or canyon valleys. The species is significantly favored by lime and associated with nutrient-rich coniferous forests with herbaceous groundcover. Collections of basidiomes appear only in a few places in each site. Each site probably contains one or a few genetically unique fungal individuals (genets) that can all be fragmented into several free-living but genetically identical mycelia (ramets, corresponding to the IUCN definition of individual). The purple spindles are short-lived, but the soil mycelium can be long-lived, several decades, or more. Global DNA metabarcoding initiatives have found DNA occuring almost occuring exclusively in forest organic and mineral soil horizons extending from Canada and the US to Panama, Estonia, Russia and China, although there are occurences in grasslands (<5%). There has been disagreement in the literature about the ecology of A. purpurea. It has been understood to be a decomposer in the past, but the fungus appears to be associated with trees and/or moss and it likely forms mycorrhiza based on isotopic analysis of basidiomes (Krokonin et al., 2018). This has not been anatomically investigated in resynthesis experiments or with isotopic labelling. We assume a generation time of 50 years following its probable biotrophic status.

Boreal Forest


Alloclavaria purpurea requires forest environments with constant very high humidity. It cannot withstand a clear-cut or disturbances that affect the hydrology of the site. It is possible that climate induced drought or wildfires may have an impact on populations in the long-term. The effect of nitrogen deposition is unclear.

Unintentional effects: large scale (species being assessed is not the target) [harvest]Droughts

Conservation Actions

Research needed

Research is needed on the ecology, which has not been anatomically investigated in resynthesis experiments or with isotopic labelling.

Use and Trade

According to the list of the French Society of Mycology, this mushroom is or was considered edible. Most literature considers it inedible.



Country occurrence

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted