What You Should Know
This beautiful bright orange polypore is saprophytic on hardwood trees, including Beech, birches and Cherry. It produces cinnabarinic acid to protect itself from bacteria. This species is generally regarded as inedible.
The components and extracts of Pycnoporus cinnabarinus have antioxidant, antiviral and anti-tumor properties. The Australian Aborigines used this polypore to treat sore mouths and lips.
Grows naturally in Russell Island, Queensland, Australia. Although not prolific, it is also not rare in bushland and gardens.
Other names: Cinnabar Polypore, Zinnoberschwamm (German), Vermiljoenhoutzwam (Netherlands), Outkovka Rumělková (Czech Republic).
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus Mushroom Identification
The fruiting body is semicircular to kidney-shaped, planoconvex, and 2-13 cm across. The upper surface is finely hairy to suedelike, becoming roughened or nearly smooth with age, and is bright reddish-orange to dull orangish. The undersurface is bright reddish-orange, with 2-4 round to angular (or sometimes slot-like) pores per mm, occasionally extending onto the substrate below the cap. The tubes are up to 5 mm deep and the stem is absent. The flesh is tough and reddish to pale orange.
Odor and Taste
The odor is fragrant or not distinctive, and the taste is not distinctive.
It is a saprobic fungus that grows on dead hardwood trees, usually with the bark still adhering, and occasionally on conifers. It causes white rot and is typically found in spring through fall, or year-round in warm climates. It is widely distributed in North America and Australia.
The cap surface turns purplish to reddish, then gray to black with KOH. The pore surface turns olive green with KOH. The flesh turns slowly reddish to blackish or yellowish with KOH in older specimens.
The spores are 5-8 x 2.5-3 µ, smooth, cylindrical or long-elliptical, hyaline in KOH, and inamyloid. The hyphal system is trimitic and cystidia are absent.
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus Look-Alikes
Dull orange in color, stockier and usually smaller, and features a dramatic purple reaction to KOH.
Thinner and more brightly colored, and features a shinier surface that is distinctively "seared".
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus Dyeing
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus can be used for dyeing. The dried mushrooms should be soaked in lukewarm water, crushed after a while, and soaked in a 10 ml ammonia solution overnight. They should then be cooked for about 1 ¼ hours and cooled. The material to be dyed should be placed in this solution and left for a while depending on the desired depth of color. The intensity of the dye can be increased by using more mushrooms.
Other colors can be achieved with the same method and by adding different solvents. Beige can be achieved by adding nothing, gold beige by adding pre-stain 20% alum, and green beige by adding pre-stain 20% cream of tartar and 5% iron sulfate. The material should be washed and rinsed afterward.
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus Medicinal Properties
The fruitbodies of Pycnoporus cinnabarinus were screened and found to possess antibacterial properties (Fajana et al., 1999). Shittu et al. (2005) examined mycelial growth and antibacterial metabolite production. The antibacterial activity (measured by the agar cup diffusion method) against B. subtilis was highest after four days of growth.
The concentrated culture fluid of P. cinnabarinus showed biological activity against a variety of bacterial strains, with maximal inhibitory effect for Gram-positive bacteria of the genus Streptococcus. P. cinnabarinus produces the phenoxazinone derivative, cinnabarinic acid, a red pigment that accumulates in fruit bodies as well as in liquid cultures. Laccase secreted by the fungus oxidizes the precursor 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid to cinnabarinic acid, a reaction that is necessary for the production of antibacterial compounds. The biological activity of concentrated P. cinnabarinus culture fluid was nearly identical with that of cinnabarinic acid, synthesized by purified laccase in vitro (Eggert, 1997).
In another study, the 20-day-old liquid culture filtrate of Pycnoporus cinnabarinus showed good antibacterial effects against the growth of the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa as well as Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus. The culture filtrate was also used against mycelial growth and mycelial weight of three plant pathogenic fungi Botrytis cinerea, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Colletotrichum miyabeanus, showing good inhibitory effect (Imtiaj and Taesoo, 2007).
Polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of P. cinnabarinus and administered intraperitoneally into white mice at a dosage of 300 mg/kg inhibited the growth of Sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich solid cancers by 90% (Ohtsuka et al., 1973).
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus Taxonomy and Etymology
The bracket fungus known as Pycnoporus cinnabarinus was first described by Dutch naturalist Nicolaus Joseph von Jacquin in 1776 under the name Boletus cinnabarinus. However, it was later transferred to the genus Pycnoporus by Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten in 1881, making Pycnoporus cinnabarinus its currently accepted scientific name.
The genus name, Pycnoporus, is derived from the Greek prefix 'pycn-' meaning thick or dense, and '-porus' meaning with pores, which accurately describes the thick, densely packed pores of this fungus. The specific epithet 'cinnabarinus' refers to the bright orange-red (cinnabar) color of this striking fungus.
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus Synonyms
Boletus coccineus Bull., 1791
Boletus cinnabarinus Jacq., 1776
Coriolus cinnabarinus (Jacq.) G. Cunn., Bulletin of the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Plant Diseases Division 75: 8 (1948)
Fabisporus cinnabarinus (Jacq.) Zmitr., Mycena 1 (1): 93 (2001)
Hapalopilus cinnabarinus (Jacq.) P. Karst., Finlands Basidsvampar (11): 133 (1899)
Leptoporus cinnabarinus (Jacq.) Quél., Enchiridion Fungorum in Europa media et praesertim in Gallia Vigentium: 176 (1886)
Phellinus cinnabarinus (Jacq.) Quél., Flore mycologique de la France et des pays limitrophes: 395 (1888)
Polyporus cinnabarinus (Jacq.) Fr., Systema Mycologicum 1: 371 (1821)
Polystictus cinnabarinus (Jacq.) Cooke, Grevillea 14 (71): 82 (1886)
Pycnoporus coccineus (Bull. : Fr.) Bondarzew & Singer
Trametes cinnabarina (Jacq.) Fr., Summa vegetabilium Scandinaviae 2: 323 (1849)
Trametes cinnabarinus (Jacq.) Fr., Summa vegetabilium Scandinaviae 2: 323 (1849)
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