The genus Ramariopsis traditionally contains species in the Clavariaceae with ornamented spores (Corner 1950). The genus was gradually refined by Petersen (eg., 1964, 1969) to exclude some species of Clavaria with ornamented spores and include some smooth spored species that otherwise match the genus. He correctly recognized the importance of spores size, hysterochroic coloration (gradually discoloring from the base upward, akin to, but not quite the same as, bruising), and the small basidial size as characters over just spore ornamentation. His later reorganization of the family which merged Clavulinopsis subgenera Acularia and Donkella into Ramariopsis (Petersen 1978) was not supported by phylogenetic investigation (Birkebak et al., 2013).
Ramariopsis can be distinguished from branched members of Clavaria by the presence of clamp connections on the narrower and non-secondarily septate contextual hyphae. In the field, this leads to a rather pliable to even almost tough consistency compared to the very fragile quality of the Clavaria species. Branched species of Clavulinopsis in subgenus Donkella can be distinguish microscopically by the round, large (relatively), conically apiculate spores and very long narrowly clavate basidia with very large sterigmata. Macroscopically, the differences are a bit more subtle and have to do with the branching pattern, stature, and relatively more obtuse to rounded apices but this is more of a vibe than a discrete difference and occasionally specimens cannot be confidentially placed in the field.
Phylogeny Reconstructed using the ITS Region
Note that (with all the phylogenies at this point) refinement could change some of the fine scale topology and hopefully future versions will be a little bit tidier when possible. There are also some very long branches in this clade imply either that further sampling will fill these out, there are some aberrant or erroneous sequences, there is some accelerated nucleotide substitution rates in this subgenus, or all of the above.
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