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Honey Fungus - Armillaria mellea

Honey Fungus

Main features

  • Fruits Summer to Autumn

  • Grows on living and dead wood

  • Forms bootlaces-like rhizomorphs

  • Smells acidic

  • Cap honey-coloured often with fine hairy scales near the centre

  • Cap starts off convex and flattens with width of 5-15cm

  • Mature caps can have a wavy edge

  • Brown-yellow stem up to 10cm tall and 1.5cm wide

  • Persistent thick ring with yellow rim

  • Flesh is white to honey-coloured

  • Crowded gills are adnate to slightly decurrent

  • Gills start off white a turn cream with age

  • Rusty spots found on the gills of older specimens

  • Spore print is pale cream

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Honey Fungus - Armillaria mellea

Edible with caution mushroom - novice identification

Other common names: Bootlaces, Bootlace Fungus, Honey Mushroom


Scientific name meaning: Armillaria is from the New Latin Armillaris, meaning a bracelet or collar. Mellea comes from the Latin Melleus, meaning belonging to honey

Season - when will I find it? From Summer to Autumn

Habitat - where will I find it? Honey Fungus can be found on living broadleaf trees as well as dead wood

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: Honey Fungs is parasitic. It forms thick bundles of hyphae called rhizomorphs, which can be found underneath the bark of affected or dead trees. These rhizomorphs resemble shoelaces. When it fruits, mushrooms are seen in dense clumps

Cap: Starts off brown and convex, with fine yellow hairy scales, ,concentrated at the centre. The cp flattens with age and develops a wavy edge. It can reach 5-15cm and becomes more of a pale honey-colour as it ages. Sometimes the hairy scales can still be noted

Gills: Starting off white, the gills become pale yellow and have rusty spots in older specimens. 

They are adnate (broadly attached to the stem) or slightly decurrent gills and crowded

Flesh: white to honey coloured

Stem: Starting off white, the stem eventually turns brown-yellow. It has a woolly scales and is 0.5-1.5cm in diameter and up to 15cm tall.

There is a persistent and thick ring, which has a yellow colour along its edge

Smell: Acid-like

Spore colour: Pale cream

Possible lookalikes Could be confused with any of the other Armellaria species, which carry the same Hazards (see Hazards). Also could be mistaken for Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasiculare), but this has sulphur-yellow gills, turning olivaceous green with age, or the Shaggy Scaly Cap (Pholiota squarrosa), but this has scales across its cap and stem and smells of radish

Use as a food Must be cooked, it will cause severe gastric problems otherwise. Even if thoroughly cooked, this mushroom causes severe gastric distress in some people. Because of this, some sources class it as poisonous. It is not recommended for consumption

Use in herbal medicine Some research has been undertaken into potential anticancer activity of this mushroom

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards This mushroom is considered poisonous by some sources, and does cause severe gastric distress in some people. It is not a recommended edible

Importance to other species Provides food for a the larvae of a number of fly species

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

Honey Fungus - Armillaria mellea - gills
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