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Leccinum monticola Halling & G. M. Mueller

Photographs by R. E. Halling ©, 2001

Taxa in sect. Aurantiacum are characterized by a conspicuous and distinctive flap of sterile tissue at the margin of the pileus. Further, they frequently have a pileus that is colored some shade of orange or orange brown to red brown and a context that changes to pink and/or fuscous when exposed. Mycorrhizal associates in the Northern Hemisphere are typically members of the Betulaceae. However, associations with Fagaceae, Pinaceae, and Ericaceae are known, but less common. Since taxa of Leccinum are obligately ectomycorrhizal, and the above mentioned plant families are of north temperate origin, we would conclude that this Leccinum is of north temperate stock. Many names have been used for "species" in this section, and the taxonomy is in disarray for taxa outside of Europe. Rolf Singer, who was familiar with the Leccina of Europe, and who saw this bolete in Costa Rica, came to the conclusion that it was Leccinum quercinum Pilát. Until late 2001, we concurred. However, this Costa Rican entity has been found above timberline in the bamboo páramo on Cerro del la Muerte (3491 m elevation) associated solely with Ericaceae (Comarostaphylis arbutoides). Previously, we had encountered the fungus commonly at slightly lower elevations (2800-3000 m) in the Cordillera Talamanca where C. arbutoides occurs with Quercus costaricensis. We now know that it forms arbutoid ectomycorrhizae with C. arbutoides. It has also been collected on Volcan Irazu.

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