A disjunct bird’s nest fungus Cyathus gayanus newly recorded from Asia

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Botanical survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong, Meghalaya, India.
ashishprabhugaonkar@yahoo.co.in; sksbsinc@rediffmail.com
Corresponding address: Ashish Prabhugaonkar; email: ashishprabhugaonkar@yahoo.co.in


Cyathus gayanus Tul. & C. Tul. – a rare disjunct bird’s nest fungus is recorded for the first time in Asia from India (Khasi hills, Meghalaya), previously reported only from South America. A brief taxonomic description and a colour photo-plate are provided for its easier identification.

Keywords Bird’s nest fungus, new record, Asia, Khasi hills.


Cyathus Haller commonly known as bird’s nest fungus belonging to wood rotting fungus family Agaricaceae of Basidiomycetes. Members of the genus are characterized by vase-like inverted bell-shaped peridium which is plicate or smooth often covered with shaggy or tomentose hairs on the outside; lens-shaped peridiole (gleba) attached to the peridium with a thread-like cord (funiculus) and smooth hyaline thick-walled basidiospores (Brodie, 1975). The genus is represented by c. 119 species in the world (Index fungorum, 2016) and 15 in India (Das et al., 2015).

During field exploration to Ri-Bhoi district (Khasi hills) of Meghalaya, Northeast India the authors collected an interesting specimen of bird’s nest fungus from semidecomposed and soil laden bamboo litter at Kbet Nongbri village, Nongpoh. A careful study of specimen and literature scrutiny reveals its identity Cyathus gayanus Tul. & C.Tul. – a species hitherto unrecorded from India as well as Asia. The same has been recorded and described in present context.

Taxonomic description

Cyathus gayanus Tul. & C. Tul., Ann. Sci. Nat. Ser. iii, 1: 76-77. 1844.(Figure 1)

Basidiomata (Peridium) 1 – 1.3 cm high, 5 – 7 mm across, slender, conic, dark brown. Exterior wall of the peridium strigose, hirsute brown, shaggy, hairy, velvety. Epiphragm membranous, disappears with maturity, bright white. Interior wall of the peridium faintly striate, smooth, shiny, dark brown. Peridioles attached to the peridium with a thread-like cord (funiculus), black, large, globose, 2.0 – 2.5 mm with thick outer wall, shiny. Basidiospores ellipsoid – subglobose, hyaline, smooth, 23 – 33 × 20 – 22 \mum.

Specimen examined: India, Meghalaya, Ri-Bhoi district, Kbet Nongbri village near Nongpoh, on semi-decomposed and soil laden bamboo litter, 02.07.16, longitude 25°54’34″N, latitude 92°0’35″ E, 850 m asl, A. Prabhugaonkar et al. AVP-97 (ASSAM).

Distribution: India (Meghalaya- present study), Chile (Tulsane & Tulsane, 1844), Costa Rica, Jamaica (Brodie, 1967).

Notes: C. gayanuswas originally described from Chile by Tulsane & Tulsane (1844), from Costa Rica and Jamaica (Brodie, 1967). This species probably could not be collected thereafter from any other part of world, hence the present one constitutes a significant record and extends range of distribution range from South America to Asia. It is distinct from the other species under the genus in having unusually tall slender, dark brown slightly plicate peridia and large peridioles possessing subglobose spores (Brodie, 1975). Our specimen slightly differs from protologue in having comparatively smaller peridioles which is 2-2.5 mm (3 mm in protologue; see Tulsane & Tulsane, 1844). Though, C. ellipsoideus, C. intermedius and C. striatus, known from India belonging to ‘striatum group’ share some common characters such as longer basidiospores (15 \mu m\geq) and brown or reddish – dark brown fruiting body (Zhao et al., 2007; Das et al., 2015), but are quite different from the species in discussion; C. ellipsoideus differs in having ellipsoidal peridiole; C. striatus possesses strongly plicate interior surface of peridium, while C. intermedius bear comparatively smaller (12-18 \mum long) basidiospores (Brodie, 1975). The lone species of Cyathus known from Meghalaya is C. olla (Lyngdoh & Dkhar, 2014) is quite different from the species in discussion, as it possesses smaller basidiospores (\leq 15 \mum) a characteristic of ‘ollum group’.


Authors are thankful to The Director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata and Head of Office BSI, ERC, Shillong for facilities and encouragement. Authors are also thankful to Mr Arul, DCF Wildlife Meghalaya and Villagers of the Kbet Nongbri for their help and support during field exploration.


Brodie, H.J. 1967. Cyathus bulleri, a hitherto undescribed fungus of the Nidulariaceae from the West Indies. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 94: 68–71.

Brodie, H.J. 1975. The bird’s nest fungi. University of Toronto Press, Toronto,Canada.

Das, K., Hembrom, M.E., Parihar, A. and Zhao, R.L. 2015 A new species of Cyathus (Agaricaeae) from India. Turkish Journal of Botany 39: 1–7.

Index fungorum, 2016. http://www.indexfungorum.org, date of access 10 July 2016.

Lyngdoh, A. and Dkhar, M.S. 2014. Wood-rotting fungi in East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, Northeast India, with special reference to Heterobasidion perplexa (a rare species ? new to India). Current Research in Environmental and Applied Mycology 4(1): 117–124.

Tulasne, L.R. and Tulasne, C. 1844. Recherches sur l’organisation et le mode de fructification des champignons de la tribu des Nidulariées, suivies d’un essai monographique. Annales des Sciences Naturelles Botanique, 3rd Ser. 1: 41–107.

Zhao, R.L, Jeewon, R., Desjardin, D.E., Soytong, K. and Hyde, K.D. 2007. Ribosomal DNA phylogenies of Cyathus: Is the current infrageneric classification appropriate? Mycologia 99: 385–395.

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