ISSN 1188-603X

No. 552 November 14, 2020 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, 1809 Penshurst, Victoria, BC, Canada V8N 2N6


Curtis R. Björk (2020): Notes on the Holarctic Species of Huperzia (Lycopodiaceae), with Emphasis on British Columbia, Canada. Annales Botanici Fennici 57(4-6): 255-278; (28 October 2020).


Taxonomy of the genus Huperzia (Lycopodiaceae) in western North America and Europe was studied using morphological characters. Delimitations of species were redefined after examining the morphology of the Huperzia selago lectotype and other type specimens in the genus. Two new species were named: H. acicularis Björk from North America and Eurasia, and one species apparently endemic to Europe, H. europaea Björk. Huperzia occidentalis and H. porophylla were found to be conspecific with the Macaronesian endemic H. suberecta (Löwe) Tardieu, which is the oldest name of the three. Additionally, Huperzia suberecta was found to be common and widespread in the northern hemisphere; it, and H. europaea are frequently confused with H. selago.

Key to Huperzia of British Columbia

1. Leaves spreading to reflexed, at least some widest distally .......................................................... H. suberecta
1. Leaves erect to spreading, not reflexed unless damaged, widest proximally or some straight-sided ................................ 2

2. Gemmae and gemmaphores scattered and solitary, or if some pseudowhorls present, then numerous gemmae solitary between them; stem foliar outline lacking periodic protrusions, not appearing tiered ...................................... 3 2. Gemmae and gemmaphores all or almost all positioned in distinct, evenly spaced (sometimes densely spaced) pseudowhorls that give the stem foliar outline a more or less tiered appearance (N.B.: pseudowhorls may be so close together as to be difficult to discern individually) ........................................................................ 4

3. Juvenile stems nodding; leaves more or less subulate; gemmaphores conspicuous, on relatively long stalks ............ H. miyoshiana 3. Juvenile stems erect; leaves narrowly deltate to lanceolate; gemmaphores on short, inconspicuous stalks .......... H. continentalis

4. Gemmaphores protruding well past leaves, pseudowhorls usually closely spaced, and consequently, the stem foliar outline appearing ragged; leaves claw-shaped; plants yellow-green, yellow or orangish ....................................................... H. arctica 4. Gemmaphores not or scarcely exserted, pseudowhorls moderately to widely spaced, and consequently the stem foliar outline appearing distinctly tiered; leaves not distinctly claw-shaped; plants yellow-green or deep green .................................................................................................................................... 5

5. Plants yellow-green; leaves acicular, more or less straight and stiffly ascending; gemma pseudowhorls widely distant; gemmae strongly protruding ............................................................................................................. H. acicularis 5. Plants green; leaves narrowly oblong-lanceolate, lanceolate or deltate-lanceolate, variably straight to moderately incurved, ascending to appressed; gemma pseudowhorls moderately distant; gemmae included to weakly protruding ........................ H. selago


Christopher W. Kopp, Barbara M. Neto-Bradley, Linda P. J. Lipsen (Jennings), Jas Sandhar & Siena Smith. 2020. Herbarium records indicate variation in bloom-time sensitivity to temperature across a geographically diverse region. International Journal of Biometeorology 64: 873880.


Anthropogenic warming's effects on phenology across environmental and temporal gradients are well recognized. Long-term phenological monitoring data are often limited in duration and geographic scope, but recent efforts to digitize herbaria collections make it possible to reliably reconstruct historic flowering phenology across broad geographic scales and multiple species, lending to an increased understanding of community response to climate change. In this study we examined collection dates (1901 to 2015) of 8,540 flowering specimens from 39 native species in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of North America. We hypothesized that flowering phenology would be sensitive to temperature but that sensitivity would vary depending on blooming season and geographic range position. As expected, we found that early-season bloomers are more sensitive to temperature than later-season bloomers. Sensitivity to temperature was significantly greater at low elevations and in the maritime (western) portion of the PNW than at higher elevations and in the eastern interior, respectively. The elevational and longitudinal effects on flowering sensitivity reflect spring "arriving" earlier at low elevations and in the maritime portion of the PNW. These results demonstrate that phenological responses to warming varies substantially across climatically diverse regions, warranting careful and nuanced consideration of climate warming's effects on plant phenology. Results The study-wide level of sensitivity of bloom time to temperature (? 4.4 days shift per 1 °C) is consistent with global findings of a 2.55 day shift per 1 °C increase in temperature (Menzel et al. 2006; Amano et al. 2010), and reinforces the validity of using herbarium specimens to reconstruct historical phenology (Robbirt et al. 2011). Our finding of declining sensitivity as mean species bloom date becomes later is consistent with other studies that have found flowering phenologies of later-blooming species to be less responsive to warming (Menzel and Fabian 1999; Wolkovich et al. 2012), with tundra species being an exception (Prevéy et al. 2018). The methods in this study allowed us to draw out subtle effects of geographic position that are not always apparent in studies focused on a single species or a geographically confined study area, thus providing an unbiased measure of the effect of climate warming on flowering phenology. Further, the use of only native species ensured that all species in the study were highly adapted to the environment they were collected in. Our results demonstrate the power of natural history collections as tools for answering questions with large geographic, temporal, and biotic breadth. Continued digitization of, and open-access to, such collections can only broaden the avenues of inquiry and discovery and should be embraced across all fields of biology.


Amano T, Smithers RJ, Sparks TH, Sutherland WJ. 2010. A 250-year index of first flowering dates and its response to temperature changes. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 277:24512457.

Menzel A &Fabian P. 1999. Growing season extended in Europe. Nature 397:659659.

Menzel A, Sparks TH, Estrella N, et al. 2006. European phenological response to climate change matches the warming pattern. Glob Chang Biol 12:19691976.

Prevéy JS, Rixen C, Rüger N, Høye TT, Bjorkman AD, Myers-Smith IH, Elmendorf SC, Ashton IW, Cannone N, Chisholm CL, Clark K, Cooper EJ, Elberling B, Fosaa AM, Henry GHR, Hollister RD, Jónsdóttir IS, Klanderud K, Kopp CW, Lévesque E, Mauritz M, Molau U, Natali SM, Oberbauer SF, Panchen ZA, Post E, Rumpf SB, Schmidt NM, Schuur E, Semenchuk PR, Smith JG, Suding KN, Totland Ø, Troxler T, Venn S, Wahren CH, Welker JM, Wipf S. 2018. Warming shortens flowering seasons of tundra plant communities. Nat Ecol Evol 3:111.

Robbirt KM, Davy AJ, Hutchings MJ, Roberts DL. 2011. Validation of biological collections as a source of phenological data for use in climate change studies: a case study with the orchid Ophrys sphegodes. J Ecol 99: 235241.

Wolkovich EM, Cook BI, Allen JM, Crimmins TM, Betancourt JL, Travers SE, Pau S, Regetz J, Davies TJ, Kraft NJ, Ault TR, Bolmgren K, Mazer SJ, McCabe G, McGill B, Parmesan C, Salamin N, Schwartz MD, Cleland EE. 2012. Warming experiments under predict plant phenological responses to climate change. Nature 485:494497.

[BEN Editor: It is a pity that the authors did not take the photoperiodicity of certain plants into account!]


From: Paul Kroeger

By the early 1990s Amanita phalloides was well documented in the US Pacific Northwest as far north as Seattle, but was not then known to occur in British Columbia, or anywhere else in Canada. Reports in the popular press of "Death Cap" mushrooms occurrence in Oregon and Washington, and especially of a group poisoning in 1989 in Portland Oregon [1], caused concern that this dangerous mushroom may be present yet undetected in British Columbia.

Members of amateur mushroom clubs in BC, the Vancouver Mycological Society (VMS) and the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society (SVIMS), were informed of these developments and were asked to help report and document any possible occurrences of Amanita phalloides in British Columbia and requested to help disseminate cautionary information to other amateur mushroom enthusiasts. This approach was successful.

The first record of Amanita phalloides growing in Canada is a British Columbia collection of a single mushroom, UBC F13925, found on October 13 1997 in a grove of large Castanea sativa or Sweet chestnut trees. It was collected by an Italian immigrant man collecting edible chestnuts in Lake Errock near Mission BC. Subsequent visits to the location by Tom Tatum, an amateur mycologist from the VMS, determined that numerous fruit bodies grew in a grove of large and old Castanea trees, a non-native tree species introduced for edible nut production.

Lake Errock community is about 100 kilometres to the southeast of the city of Vancouver and had first developed in the 1890s. According to the Heritage Places website of Heritage Places Branch, Mission Historical Society; Sweet chestnut trees already grew in Lake Errock on the old Ross Ranch described in the 1893 BC Directory as "the largest fruit ranch in the lower province" [2].

The second Canadian record of Amanita phalloides, DAVFP 25413 and UBC F14647, was collected on October 24 1998 under a large ornamental Fagus sylvatica or European beech tree in the landscaped grounds of Government House, official residence of the Provincial Lieutenant General, in Victoria on southern Vancouver Island British Columbia. It is known that planting stock for this landscaping was provided by Layritz Nurseries in 1906. Richard Emil Layritz (1867-1954) was a pioneer nurseryman from Germany who studied horticulture in Germany, France and England. He was an early advocate of the City Beautiful movement which promoted the creation of landscaped public parks and tree-lined boulevards in cities throughout North America. For a summary of the City Beautiful Movement in Vancouver see [3].

In 2000 on September 13 Amanita phalloides was found under Tilia cordata Basswood or Linden trees in the Uplands neighbourhood of Victoria, which is a garden suburb designed by the landscape designer John Olmsted. Starting in 1912 planting stock for landscaping in the Uplands development was provided by Layritz Nurseries.

In 2002 further locations and host trees for Amanita phalloides were identified. They were collected under old Corylus avellana, Hazelnut or Filbert, trees in Mission in the Fraser Valley, not far from the original Lake Errock location. In Victoria on Vancouver Island they were collected under Carpinus betulus or European Hornbeam trees near the Crystal Gardens, a public saltwater pool facility built in 1925 and landscaped in 1926 with planting stock from Layritz Nurseries.

On October 13 2008 the first Amanita phalloides in Vancouver city were collected from under a Carpinus betulus or Hornbeam, city street trees apparently planted in the 1960s. The vast majority of subsequent collections of Amanita phalloides within the city of Vancouver have been under the "Fastigiata" cultivar of Carpinus betulus planted as street trees. By 2015 there were numerous records of Amanita phalloides from the south-western corner of British Columbia in two adjacent regions. The Lower Mainland includes Vancouver city and its neighbouring municipalities in the Fraser Delta and in the Fraser Valley.

Southern Vancouver Island has numerous locations scattered around Victoria. Over 130 British Columbia Amanita phalloides collections are presently in the DAVFP and UBC Herbaria. Potential ectomycorrhizal tree hosts when noted have all been non-native broadleaf tree species with the exception of the native Garry oak, Quercus garryana [4], and no collections have been associated with conifer trees. Since 2017 there have been a few more reports from the Victoria area of Amanita phalloides growing with Garry oak.

In 2018 Amanita phalloides DNA was isolated and identified from ectomycorrhizal root tips of Carpinus betulus trees in Kelowna indicating that this species is also present in the Okanagan Valley of BC. The species was expected to occur there because of the mild climate with warm winters and a long history of settlement and commercial tree nursery activity in that area.

In 2020 Amanita phalloides was found growing under Quercus palustris in downtown Vancouver in an area extensively landscaped as the site of the 1986 World's Fair. It is now expected that numerous trees planted for the 1986 event, and during redevelopment of the expo lands immediately following, may be hosts for many more Death cap mushrooms in coming years.

Table 1: Host trees for Amanita phalloides in British Columbia:

Host Tree SpeciesHost Tree Common NameFamily
Aesculus hippocastanum L.Horse ChestnutSapindaceae: Sapindales
Carpinus betulus L.European HornbeamBetulaceae: Fagales
Castanea sativa Mill.Sweet ChestnutFagaceae: Fagales
Corylus avellana GrayCommon HazelBetulaceae: Fagales
Fagus sylvatica L.European BeechFagaceae: Fagales
Quercus garryana Dougl.Garry OakFagaceae: Fagales
Quercus palustris Münchh.Pin oakFagaceae: Fagales
Quercus robur L.English oakFagaceae: Fagales
Quercus rubra L.Northern Red OakFagaceae: Fagales
Tilia cordata Mill.Basswood or Linden Malvaceae: Malvales

Three serious human poisonings are known to have been caused by Amanita phalloides growing in British Columbia, with one fatality:

1. In 2003 on August 17 an adult male in Victoria consumed what he believed were puffball mushrooms growing in the lawn of his residence. Two days later he presented at the hospital emergency department with severe gastrointestinal symptoms and was hospitalized. A visit to the residence by a mycologist from the Pacific Forestry Centre three days after ingestion revealed several mature Amanita phalloides growing under a large Quercus robur tree. The patient recovered and was released on August 22, 5 days post-ingestion.

2. In 2008 on September 6 an adult female ingested a large quantity of Amanita phalloides gathered from an agricultural property in Langley BC. The woman was a recent Korean immigrant who believed she had found paddy-straw mushrooms or Volvariella volvacea, a cultivated species popular in parts of Asia. The patient presented two days later with severe gastrointestinal symptoms and indications of liver damage and was hospitalised. She survived and was released on September 23 after 16 days.

3. In 2016 in October a three year-old child died more than a week after eating Amanita phalloides that grew under hornbeam on a residential property in Downtown Victoria.

In addition there are two cases of apparent amatoxin poisoning where the mushrooms were never identified but were suspected to be Amanita phalloides:

1. In fall of 2013 a Victoria older adult male ate 6-7 mushrooms. The next day he presented with gastroenteritis, was treated and sent home. Three days post-ingestion he returned with vomiting and diarrhea and signs of liver damage. He was treated with intravenous silibinin, a compound extracted from milk-thistle, flown up from the USA. No mushroom specimens were recovered, and tests for amatoxin in urine were not completed. He recovered.

2. In October of 2014 a adult male in Vancouver ate mushrooms in a meal and developed symptoms 8 hours later and was hospitalised and arrangements for obtaining intravenous silibinin were begun. By the time the silibinin (Legalon-SIL) arrived, the patient had mostly recovered so it was not administered. He was released after 8 or 9 days. The exact identity and provenance of mushrooms was never established with certainty. Dude Chilling Park was mentioned as where the patient had picked the mushrooms and the area was searched but no amatoxin-containing mushroom suspects were found.

Table 2: Location and tree host first records of Amanita phalloides in British Columbia

DateAccession no.Associated TreesOrigin of treesLocation in BC
1997 Oct 13
UBC F13925
Castanea sativa
Lake Errock
1998 Oct 24
DAVFP 25413 & UBC F14647
Fagus sylvatica
c. 1912
2000 Sep 13
DAVFP 25731
Tilia cordata
c. 1912
2002 Oct 12
UBC F 14418
Corylus avellana
2002 Oct 13
DAVFP 26776
Carpinus betulus
c. 1926
2003 Aug 20
DAVFP 27399
Quercus robur
Victoria poisoning
2006 Oct 22
UBC F18239
Corylus avellana
2008 Sep 08
UBC F16945
Langley poisoning
2008 Oct 14
UBC F17001
Carpinus betulus
c. 1960s
2011 Oct 23
UBC F24001
Quercus rubra
2012 Oct 27
UBC F30956
Corylus avellana
Hatzik Island
2014 Nov 01
DAVFP 29590
Corylus avellana
Galiano Island
2015 Oct 08
DAVFP 29291
Quercus garryana
2015 Oct 11
UBC F32168
Fagus sylvatica
c. 1960s
2018 Nov 06
UBC (PK7782)
Aesculus hippocastanum
2020 Sep 09
UBC (PK8052)
Quercus palustris
2020 Oct 27
UBC pending
Corylus avellana


[1] D.R. Benjamin. 1995. Mushrooms: Poisons and Panaceas. A handbook for naturalists, mycologists and physicians. W.H. Freeman and Company. New York.

[2] Lake Errock Community. Heritage Places website of Heritage Places Branch, Mission Historical Society. 2014.

[3] Marie-Eve Daunais. 2009. Vancouver Street Trees: A public affair. In The Atlas: UBC Undergraduate Journal of World History 6: 1-17.

[4] Berch SM, Kroeger P, Finston T. 2017. The death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) moves to a native tree in Victoria, British Columbia. Botany 95(4): 435-440.

[Editorial: For some Mushroom Observations of Amanita phalloides from the Greater Victoria area, see: ]


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