Conservation Status: Not of concern
Traditionally, Chroogomphus vinicolor, C. rutilus, and C. ochraceus have comprised the pine spikes, a common fungal element of pine forests throughout North America. They are quite similar to each other, having ochraceous to wine-red, viscid caps, that are convex or umbonate in age. C. vinicolor has been differentiated from the other two species primarily on the basis of having thick-walled (up to 5--7.5 µm at widest part) cystidia, whereas the other two species have been separated on the basis of color, with C. ochraceus characterized by brighter colors (yellowish orange to ochraceous) than C. rutilus (grayish, ochraceous, vinaceous to dingy vinaceous brown). Molecular analyses by the late Orson Miller and his former student, Cathy Aime, support recognition of the three species, but suggest that C. rutilus occurs only in Europe, C. ochraceus only in North America, and that all three species vary too widely in color for it to be useful in species determination. Thus our PNW pine spikes belong to C. vinicolor and C. ochraceus. However, deciding to which species a particular collection belongs can be problematic, as cystidia often are intermediate in thickness, perhaps as a result of thickening that occurs as the mushroom ages.