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Description type:Original description 
Description:Ramaria maculospora R. Petersen, sp. nov. FIGS. 16, 17
Fruitbodies (FIG. 17) up to 12 x 8 cm, irregularly shaped but often broadly ellipsoid in outline. Stipe up to 40 x 40 mm, stout, rounded at base but often mycelioid and involving substantial substrate when picked, soft, smooth but not glabrous where protected, beset with numerous abortive branchlets, white to ivory color where protected ("ivory yellow," "pale ochraceous salmon"), not changing color on bruising or handling; flesh white, solid, soft, often watery and marbled, especially in wet weather, drying soft and friable. Major branches 3-several, ascending but not strict, flattened, pale tan ("pale ochraceous buff") when young, fleshy tan ("pinkish buff," "ochraceous buff") by maturity; branches in 3-5 ranks, open, spreading, usually flattened, concolorous with major branches; hymenium often unilateral; internodes lengthening acropetally ontogenetically; internode ratio diminishing rather abruptly at maturity; axils rounded to lunate; apices minutely digitate to densely cusped when young, abruptly white to pale yellow ("warm buff"), slowly becoming concolorous with upper branches ("light ochraceous buff"), in age often claw-like, flattened; abortive branchlets off-white where protected, concolorous with branches where exposed. Odor weakly fabaceous to weakly sweet; taste negligible to mildly bitter.
Macrochemical reactions: NOH, KOH = obscurely copper colored; IKI = negative; PYR, PHN, GUA, FCL, ANW, ANO = positive to strongly positive. Tramal hyphae of stipe 4-15 µm diam, hyaline, clamped, thin-walled, easily collapsed (and often appearing refringent like gloeoplerous hyphae); ampulliform inflations very rare, abruptly onion-shaped, thin-walled, ornamented; gloeoplerous hyphal segments rare, short, usually juxtaposed to septa. Tramal hyphae of upper branches similar to those of stipe, 1.5-15 µm diam; ampulliform inflations not observed; gloeoplerous hyphal segments as above. Hymenium thickening; basidia 43-55 x 8-9 µm, clavate, clamped; contents homogeneous, appearing empty after spore discharge; wall thin, easily crumpled; sterigmata 4, straight, apical, spindly.
Spores (FIG. 16) 8.3-10.1 x 4.7-5.4 µm (E = 1.64-2.08; Em = 1.79; Lm = 8.95 µm), ovoid to broadly ellipsoid, conspicuously roughened in profile; contents dark, sludgy, with dark ochre, amorphous inclusions; wall up to 0.2 µm thick, not thinner distally; hilar appendix prominent, often beak-like, gradual, with a small suprahilar blister-like swelling; ornamentation of scattered, strongly cyanophilous, discrete low warts, with a distinct unornamented, plage-like suprahilar area.
Commentary. -This would seem very similar to Ramaria verna (Coker) Corner (cf. redescription of the type specimen: Petersen, 1982: 203-204). The two share characters of stature (especially numerous abortive branchlets), color, presence of clamp connections, and somewhat short spores. Simultaneously, they are separated by the following characters: (1) spore statistics [for R. verna: (7-)7.8-8.5 (-9.5) x (3-)3.3-3.7 µm; E = 2.11-2.75; Em = 2.37; Lm = 8.1 µm]; (2) fruiting season (R. verna apparently fruits in spring), and (3) spore ornamentation (in R. verna, mostly delicate meandering ridges, with few warts). Coker also drew attention to rosy tints on upper stipe and lower branches on auxiliary specimens of R. verna, but this coloration was not present on the type. The ruddy apices mentioned in Coker's notes perhaps were caused by exposure of fruitbodies to sun and dry weather. The two species may differ also in range, for R. verna is known only from the Piedmont. All in all, then, I prefer to keep the two taxa separate.
Coker did know this taxon, but included specimens of it under the name Clavaria secunda Berkeley. Under that name were placed at least three taxa, two of which bore striate spores typical of subg. Ramaria. The type of R. secunda (Berk.) Corner shows striate spores and matches one of the taxa so named by Coker. Fruitbodies of R. secunda are tan, quite large, with massive stipe, quite like those of R. maculospora, but show no abortive branchlets, very little substrate when picked, and usually emit a fragrant odor.
The specific epithet, maculospora, notes the conspicuously spotted spores when stained in cotton blue. No ridges were observed, but only discrete, strongly cyanophilous warts.
Two other similar taxa are R. cartilaginea Marr et Stuntz and R. amyloidea Marr et Stuntz, both from western North America. They share general coloration and presence of abortive branchlets. The stipe flesh of the latter is amyloid, however, and instantly reacts to ferric salts, both characters unlike R. maculospora. Moreover, the dry flesh of R. amyloidea is hard and nearly impenetrable. Branch sections of R. maculospora are reactive to several macrochemical reagents. Such strong reactivity is not common in subg. Laeticolora, and is shared by R. cartilaginea. Spores of the two are also quite similar (for R. cartilaginea 7.5-11 x 4-6 µm; Lm = 8.8 µm, teste Marr), although spore ornamentation is not (cf. Marr and Stuntz, 1973: pl. 2, fig. 12). Fruitbodies of R. cartilaginea are considerably more yellow, however, with very brittle flesh, drying very hard.
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