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Allotropa Virgata

Allotropa, candy cane, is a parasite which indicates Matsutake mycelia. It feeds on the mycelia, taking the nutrients it needs. The mycelia must be present if the "plant" is. Allotropa has been noted with all host trees wherever Matsutake grows in the Pacific Northwest.

It is rare to find mushrooms among allotropa. Fruiting area associated is within 5 to 15 Ft.

Allotropa growth begins in early spring as temperatures warm. Young Allotropa resembles asparagus with no color, or a pink tint.

The maturing plant is red and white striped. This stage is reached in mid June to early September. A mature plant has tiny white flowers with a red center. Height is 3 inches to 3 feet. 

The bright color and size allow them to be detected at a distance. It is common to find only stalks due to animal browsing.


Dead allotrope is dark brown. It may stand in place for up to 3 years. Winter rains beat them down making them difficult to see at times.

Dead or alive they indicate Matsutake.

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Allotropa can also introduce new harvesters to the smell of Matsutake. Directly under allotropa is Matsutake mycelia. It will be white or have a bluish tint. (Tint due to active mycelia breaking down soils into available nutrients.)  Remove a small portion and smell. The smell may vary slightly depending on moisture and time of year. The mushroom body is composed of the same material as the mycelia. Thus the same smell. Gills are the only specialized portion.

Allotropa is not an indicator of fall fruiting

Thanks to commercial harvester John Getz. First generally known to associate Allotropa with Matsutake.


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