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Armillarea mellea


Common name: Honey mushroom
Spore Print: White or faintly yellow
Habitat: This is one of the few mushrooms that is actually parasitic and able to grow on living trees (and can kill them). It also grows on dead and decaying wood. It occurs in small or large clusters.
Edibility: Edible. It doesn't taste like honey, rather the common name 'Honey Mushroom' refers to the color of the mushroom. The stalks are tough, so usually only the caps are eaten. As with any mushroom, be sure to cook it well. The raw mushroom can taste bitter.
Comments: The Honey Mushroom (Armillarea mellea) is one of the few mushrooms that is difficult to identify by the beginner. This is because the physical characteristics of the mushroom can vary widely, especially conerning the color, shape, manner of growth, and sliminess (vicidity). Because of this, the species is often considered as a 'group' in itself. However, there are a few characteristics that distinguish this mushroom:
  • Usually has small dark hairs on the cap.
  • This mushroom will always have a cotton-like veil.
  • It has a tough stalk.
  • It always grows on wood (although the wood may be buried).
  • The presence of white or faintly yellow spores, as can usually be seen deposited on the tops of the lower mushrooms.
  • It usually has a bitter taste when raw.
Another interesting feature of this mushroom is that the mycelium can phosphoresce at night! This mushroom is said to be the largest living organism on earth, with underground mycelium from a single organism spanning hundreds of miles and killing trees as it spreads! It is a very good edible and often used in stir fries. However, be sure of your identification. Galerina autumnalis is a deadly look-alike that grows in clumps on wood and has a veil on the stalk, but is smaller and has brown spores. There are other look-alikes including various Pholiota which have brown spores, and Gymnopilus species that have rusty orange spores.

Click on 'My Species List' above for more detailed descriptions of individual mushrooms!




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Mushroom Identification