Pycnoporus cinnabarinus: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Pycnoporus cinnabarinus Mushroom
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus is a saprophytic, white-rot decomposer. Its fruit body is a bright orange shelf fungus. It is common in many areas and is widely distributed throughout the world. It is inedible. It produces cinnabarinic acid to protect itself from bacteria.
This species is generally regarded as inedible, but in any case because of its rarity it should not be collected.
Other names: Cinnabar Polypore, Zinnoberschwamm (German).
Pycnoporus cinnabarinus Identification
Saprobic on the deadwood of hardwoods (usually with the bark still adnate) and rarely on the wood of conifers; causing a white rot; annual; spring through fall, or overwinter in warm climates; widely distributed in North America.
Semicircular to kidney-shaped; planoconvex; 2-13 cm across; up to 2 cm thick; upper surface finely hairy to suedelike, becoming roughened or nearly smooth (often pocked in age), bright reddish-orange to dull orangish with age; undersurface bright reddish-orange, with 2-4 round to angular (or sometimes slot-like) pores per mm, occasionally extending onto the substrate below the cap; tubes to 5 mm deep; stem absent; flesh tough, reddish to pale orange.
Spore Print: White.
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 & Etymology
When Dutch naturalist Nicolaus Joseph von Jacquin (1727 - 1817) described this bracket fungus in 1776 he gave it the binomial scientific name Boletus cinnabarinus.
It was Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten (1834 - 1917) who, in 1881, transferred this species to the genus Pycnoporus, thus establishing its currently-accepted scientific name Pycnoporus cinnabarinus.
Synonyms of Pycnoporus cinnabarinus include Boletus cinnabarinus Jacq., Polyporus cinnabarinus (Jacq.) Fr., and Trametes cinnabarina (Jacq.) Fr.
Pycnoporus, the genus name, comes from the prefix pycn- meaning thick or dense, and -porus meaning with pores. Fungi in this genus are thick and they do indeed have densely-packed pores.
Just as it sounds, the specific epithet cinnabarinus is a reference to the bright orange-red (cinnabar) colour of this strikingly beautiful bracket fungus.
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