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British Mycological Society Recording Network - page 17 / 51





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There are various reasons:

  • Names have been carelessly applied in the past, with inadequate reference to older literature. The older name is discovered later and usually takes precedence.

  • The same fungus may have been given different names in the past by workers in different countries. Modern communications help to eliminate this problem today but many old duplicate names still exist and await clarification.

  • Type specimens preserved in museum collections when re-examined are found to differ from the modern understanding of the species concerned. The old name usually has to survive, so occasionally a species with which we have become familiar has to be given a new name. This becomes very confusing when both of these ‘species’ have to be recognised.

  • New technology, particularly DNA analysis, reveals hitherto unknown relationships, leading to changes in both generic and specific names.

  • Poor co-operation between mycologists in different countries (or even within the same country!) where opinions on taxonomy and nomenclature may differ and each worker publishes his own views. This is a problem that will always exist and may be regarded as an unavoidable consequence of ‘the advancement of science’!


During the late nineteenth and much of the early twentieth century there were many workers on fungi, in this country and spread across Central and Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. With slow methods of communication, or none at all, it was inevitable that some species would be given many different Latin names. Melanophyllum haematospermum is an uncommon but distinctive small toadstool with bright red gills and with spores which may be shades of green in colour, changing to red as they dry. This species has had up to 23 different names, or synonyms. The sequence, showing how the name was changed over time by different workers, is set out by Jack V. R. Marriott (1994) in his chapter on Nomenclature and Taxonomy in No. 2 of the BMS Guides for the Amateur Mycologist series: Guide to Identification with a Microscope. This booklet is essential reading for beginners in mycology wishing to expand their skills and interests (see Appendix 1).

With the progressive development of the BMSFRD it has been necessary to include all the known synonyms and to design a system to recognise them and to add the name currently in use. This has taken the pressure off the recorder to keep up to date with changes in taxonomy and nomenclature, but care has still to be taken to ensure that only appropriate synonyms are used, and that they are spelt correctly. If sending in records using a name with a known problem of interpretation it helps if the literature used during identification is noted. This gives the Database Co-ordinator/Manager a clear indication of the sense in which the name has been used.


The table of fields of the BMSFRD includes a field for Morph. This is a term that puzzles many and calls for some explanation. A ‘perfect’ fungus is one that produces spores sexually i.e. it will have either asci or basidia. Some macrofungi and many microfungi also produce asexual spores (referred to in some publications as mitospores) e.g. conidia, and this is regarded as an ‘imperfect’ form of reproduction. In those fungi that have more than one method of reproduction the term teleomorph is applied to the state producing sexual spores, and anamorph to the state, or states, which produces asexual spores. The term holomorph is applied to these same fungi to indicate the whole fungus, incorporating all its spore stages. When entering records the


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