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Cortinarius elegantissimus Rob. Henry

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Scientific name
Cortinarius elegantissimus
Rob. Henry
Common names
Паутинник элегантнейший
Prächtiger Klumpfuß
IUCN Specialist Group
Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball
Assessment status
Assessment date
IUCN Red List Category
Brandrud, T.-E., Krisai-Greilhuber, I., Perini, C. & Svetasheva, T.
Dahlberg, A.

Assessment Notes

The content on this page is fetched from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/204091938/204094711


Cortinarius elegantissimus is a rare and conspicuous mycorrhizal species associated predominately with Fagus and sometimes Quercus. Its large bright-yellow fruit bodies can hardly be overlooked, and with its very large spores it is easily distinguishable. Hence it has a well-documented distribution. The species is confined to a rare type of calcareous forest habitat, mostly natural and undisturbed, with large and mature trees which are vulnerable and declining due to urbanization, lime quarries, selective cutting and other types of transformation. There are approximately 400 known localities/sites in Europe, with the estimated total number being approximately 4,000 localities, which corresponds with approximately 80,000 mature individuals. The of appropriate habitats for C. elegantissimus in calcareous, old-growth Fagus-Quercus-Carpinus forests is suspected to have declined by about 20 % since 1970. Based on this, the species is assessed as NT according to the A-criterion.

Taxonomic notes

The most known synonym is Cortinarius aurantioturbinatus Secr. ex J.E. Lange.

Geographic range

Cortinarius elegantissimus is a European taxon known from 20 countries (Bohus 1976, Brandrud 1982, Ivanov and Durandin 1996, Nezdojminogo 1996, Jeppesen and Frøslev 1999, Mahiques 2000, Consiglio et al. 2003, Krieglsteiner and Gminder 2010, Rebriev et al. 2012, GBIF.org 2021) distributed more or less throughout the distributional range of European Fagus forests, east to the Penza region and Stavropol-Caucasus regions of European Russia, and north to Denmark-south Sweden. A few GBIF records from Canada (5 from 1950s) as well as data from Chile and Japan are not verified with sequencing, and very probably represent other species. It is a quite characteristic species mainly within the natural distribution area of Fagus spp, from the lowlands of southern Scandinavia up to 800 a.s.l. in the French- and Swiss Jura and c. 1,000 m a.s.l. in central Italy.

Population and Trends

Cortinarius elegantissimus is reported from approximately 20 localities in south Sweden, approximately 45 Denmark, 20 in Great Britain, 15 in France and 10 in Spain (GBIF 2021). In national databases there are an additional approximate 35 known localities in Austria, 45 in Switzerland, 30 in Hungary, 20 in Slovenia and 130 in Germany. From the other countries (Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, Estonia, Russia, Belgium, Moldova, Bulgaria) usually a few records are reported. In total approximately 400 localities are known in Europe. Based on this, the number of sites in Europe is estimated to be approximately 4,000 localities, which corresponds with approximately 80,000 mature individuals (Dahlberg and Mueller 2011). The species usually is restricted to natural and near-natural beech calcareous forests mostly in western and central Europe where the most localities are recorded. Only a few records are known from the oak calcareous forests in eastern Europe. The conservation status of the calcareous beech forest (EU habitat code 9150) type is considered as “Unfavourable-Inadequate” due to poor structure and function (habitat quality) and poor future prospects, reflecting inadequate forest management. In the Atlantic, and Mediterranean regions, this habitat is assessed as “Unfavourable-Bad” due to bad structure and function and bad future prospects (European Environment Agency 2013-2018). European Fagus forests have declined, especially the habitat quality, according to the European Red List of habitats, where the habitat is categorized as NT (Janssen et al. 2016).The species was reported to be extirpated in heavily anthropogenic influenced areas of western Germany (Saarland; Derbsch and Schmit 1987). It is nationally Red Listed in Germany (Bayern (3)), Denmark (VU) and in Sweden (VU). The decline of the calcareous Fagus-Quercus-Carpinus forests since 1970 period is estimated to be about 20% and to continue at the present speed.

Population Trend: decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Cortinarius elegantissimus forms ectomycorrhiza in temperate to montane deciduous forest, associated with Fagus and rarely Quercus. It prefers natural or near-natural old-growth forests with calcareous soils and thick well-developed leaf litter (Brandrud 1982, Brandrud et al. 1995). It is mostly confined to Medio-European limestone beech forests of the Cephalanthero-Fagion (Nature 2000 habitat classification code 9150) but also calcareous Fagus orientalis mixed forests in eastern Europe (Rebriev et al. 2012). In the southern and eastern parts of its range, it can also be found in Sub-Atlantic and medio-European oak or oak-hornbeam forests of the Carpinion betuli (9160). In the Mediterranean regions the species might occur also in more siliceous soils, e.g. with Quercus species. In Penza region (Russia) it was recorded from oak floodplain forest of Volga basin (Ivanov and Durandin 1996).


The main threats are incautious cutting, urbanization, limestone mining, and transformation of natural forest communities into parks and other recreation zones. Tourism due to mass visiting and trampling and development of infrastructures including roads, are real threats. Nitrogen deposition is suspected to negatively impact oak forests, and hence also the fungus.

Conservation Actions

Cortinarius elegantissimus is included in national red-lists in 7 countries (Sweden: SLU Artdatabanken 2020; Denmark: Den danske Rødliste 2019; Germany: Rote-Liste-Zentrum 2021; Poland: Wojewoda and Lawrynowicz 2006; and Czechia: Kotlaba 1995) and is protected in some regions of Russia (Ivanov 2013). The conservation actions needed are mainly site protection to avoid logging, transformation of habitats, limestone mining near the species and regulation of recreational activities. Nature reserves should be established for key sites to protect the old, mature trees necessary for this species. Taxonomic research is also desirable in order to clarify the phylogenetic relations of European species to uncertain American and Japanese related specimens. Ecological studies are also proposed to better understand the species' preference for habitat types outside of the distribution of Fagus forests.

Use and Trade

No use or trade is known.

Source and Citation

Brandrud, T.-E., Krisai-Greilhuber, I., Perini, C. & Svetasheva, T. 2021. Cortinarius elegantissimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T204091938A204094711. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-2.RLTS.T204091938A204094711.en .Accessed on 26 September 2023

Country occurrence