Arcyria versicolor of western mountains, U.S.A. (Myxomycetes: Trichiales: Trichiaceae): a morphological and taxonomic study with observations of nivicolous species


  • Harold W. Keller Botanical Research Institute of Texas
  • Relf L. Price Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Billy G. Stone Botanical Research Institute of Texas
  • Edward D. Forrester Botanical Research Institute of Texas



capillitium, computer stacking, fruiting bodies, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico, scanning electron microscopy, snowbank slime molds, sporangia, Valles Caldera National Preserve


Arcyria versicolor (Trichiales: Trichiaceae) is a distinct myxomycete species described by William Phillips in 1877. The genus Arcyria dates back to Linnaeus in 1753 through the species A. denudata. Arcyria sporangia are brightly colored red, yellow, grey or white, mostly stalked, often in large groups easily seen with the naked eye. Approximately 54 species are known, many are common, and distributed worldwide. Collectors often encounter these colorful species on decaying logs as clusters of many sporangia often covering extensive areas. Arcyria versicolor, collected in the Valles Caldera National Preserve located in the Jemez Mountains of north central New Mexico, is a new record for the state. The nomenclatural history of this species is reviewed and the justification for selection of the species name versicolor is discussed. Arcyria versicolor is accepted as the valid species name and A. vitellina a synonym after examination of type specimens. Environmental parameters for coloration are discussed in general for fruiting bodies of Arcyria and more specifically for nivicolous snowbank species. Transitional stages of plasmodial color to mature fruiting body formation are described for Arcyria versicolor. More than 140 specimens of Arcyria versicolor fruiting bodies were examined with light microscopy and in part illustrated with multifocal computer stacked imaging. Higher magnifications were highlighted using scanning electron microscopy. A more complete and accurate species description is provided for Arcyria versicolor. Differences of fruiting body morphology including habit, color, dehiscence, peridial inner and outer surface features, capillitial ornamentation and size, spore color, size, and ornamentation, and stalk spore-like bodies are described and illustrated. Observation of type specimens from the type locality is illustrated, discussed, and nomenclatural evaluation given for the name selected. Mountain myxomycetes are reviewed based on the observations of T.H. Macbride and his early 1914 paper published in Mycologia. Collection data is presented that compares the dark-spored and light spored nivicolous myxomycetes in the French Alps. The history of renown collectors of nivicolous myxomycetes in western mountains of U.S.A. documents the discovery and study of this special ecological group of myxomycetes. This current paper is the first in a series from an ongoing research project entitled Myxomycetes of New Mexico.


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How to Cite

Keller, H. W. ., Price, R. L. ., Stone, B. G. ., & Forrester, E. D. . (2020). Arcyria versicolor of western mountains, U.S.A. (Myxomycetes: Trichiales: Trichiaceae): a morphological and taxonomic study with observations of nivicolous species. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 14(2), 435–459.

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