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Honey Fungus

Edible Edible
Autumn Autumn

This tasty and very common mushroom can give a small amount of people gastric upsets so should be tried in small amounts the first time it is eaten. It should always be cooked before consumption.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Honey Fungus, Bootlace Fungus
Scientific Name Armillaria mellea
Season Start Sep
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM) 14
Average Cap width (CM) 15
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Cap

Conical when young, then convex, then flattening and even having upturned edges. Honey coloured, ochre or brown with a darker slight umbo and sometimes concentric circles of darker scales..

Gills

Gills start white turning yellow to brown and often darker. Crowded. Joined to the stem.

Stem

The chunky Honey fungus has a fairly thick, scaly, white to yellow brown stem which is usually bulbous at the base. The slender fungus is thinner, generally smoother and tapers towards the base and can be white to yellow to red/brown.

Skirt

The ring is usually very high on the stem and can appear as a double ring with chrome yellow edges.

Flesh

White.

Habitat

Growing in large clusters on trunks, stumps or dead wood of many different trees but can also be found in grass as the rhizomorphs spread looking for more trees to infect.

Possible Confusion

Galerina marginata, pictured, can look similar but is darker and has a distinct smell which is not mushroomy. Care should be taken with the identification of this fungi as Galerina marginata is also called The Funeral Bell.

Spore Print

White to pale cream. Ellipsoid.

Taste / Smell

Good and found in large numbers. Must be cooked before consumption but can still cause slight gastric upsets in a small number of people.

Frequency

Very common.

Other Facts

This mushroom is responsible for killing many trees and the rhizomorphs or ‘bootlaces’ can usually be found under the clusters of fungi and surrounding bark. Unlike most mushrooms this fungi can live on its host tree alive or dead and can spread under ground easily and ends up killing its host.
Armillaria do not grow from spores very easily.
An  Armillaria has formed what is thought to be the largest living single organism on the planet and has been reported at 3.4 square miles in size and thousands of years old.

COMMENTS

22 comments for Honey Fungus

  1. Andy Wilson says:

    In Norway, they call a certain mushroom a ‘Melksopp’ . Is this the same as our word ‘ Milksop ‘ ?
    I believe it was a type of Boletus, the type which which occasionally sprang up on the back lawn of our former
    house, near Watch hill, Aspatria, Cumbria.
    Can you shed any light on which mushroom is in fact called in English, ‘Milksop’ ?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I can’t find a reference to milksop and mushrooms in the UK, only that it means ‘a person who is indecisive and lacks courage’ but in Lithuania they call the Leccinum branch of the Boletes the milksops so there might be something there.

      1. Katri Paakkari says:

        Milksop might refer to milk cap.

    2. max sølv says:

      there is not a mushroom called melksopp in norsk… melksopp is a direct english translation of the english name for milkmushroom i.e. lactarius the mushrooms that create milk from the gills. in norsk they are called riske for example matriske [trans. food milk cap]. from the information you have given i can tell you sopp is the word for mushroom and boletes are called skrubb. so you may mean myrskrubben, leccinum niveum the direct translation of this is the moor bolete].

      1. Eugen S Konyardi says:

        We do eat them in east Europe (Romania,Bucovina ,Ukraine, Bulgaria)
        We do call them Ghebe in general and people preserve them in jars over the winter months

  2. Alex says:

    I found some really early honey fungus on a dead tree, 2nd Aug 2020, which is a month earlier than the season start described.

    1. Sam says:

      Likewise! At least, I think that’s what I’ve found. Perhaps this year’s climate has been conducive to it.

  3. Dinah says:

    My wooded garden is a honey coloured fantasy grotto at the moment, with clumps on each and every bit of wood sticking up, or horizontal on the ground. It must have been a very good year for it. Doesn’t seem to have killed anything off this year though, maybe that will happen toward winter. Has anyone else had a really bumper crop this year?

    1. Karen Bailey says:

      Huge crop of honey fungus on an ivy root. Should I leave it or remove it?. The ivy root is not required, I cut down and removed the greenery but was unable to dig out the root.

  4. John Way (Isle of Wight) says:

    Had Honey Fungus on toast for lunch today,yummy.! Boiled the caps for 5 minutes,then saute in a little olive oil,butter,garlic and dried herbs.
    All growing around the trunk of an old oak in my garden.
    Many Boletes in my lawn too,but not positively identified,so not eaten.!!

  5. chhukun pun says:

    i found at august 5th in bulford salisbury. it is very good and tasty. i ate with whisky its really really yummy . i saute in little bit olive oil,garlic,black powder,green chilli salt and butter. so nice!!!

  6. Stephen Lambert says:

    Made a delicious chicken and mushroom pie today with the healthiest looking honey fungus I have ever seen.

  7. Liz says:

    I’ve found a cluster of what I think might be honey fungus round a tree in the local park. I’m not sure enough to actually eat them though!

  8. Neil says:

    Honey fungus gone mad this year! Harvested 50 litres of mushrooms squashed into buckets. I think there will be a good amount of mushroom ketchup before too long. Amazingly no casualties to the fungus this year but judging from the way they have sprouted in new territory I expect plenty of plants to die next spring. At least I will have some ketchup so all is not lost.

  9. Mark Wild says:

    Got loads of these in my garden, picked cooked and eaten some this morning. Very nice. Does anyone know if they can be picked and stored? (Dried, frozen etc.) If so, how?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      They can be dried if sliced very thinly and placed on a fine mesh rack somewhere warm with a breeze or in a dehydrator, if stored right they will last for years. They can also be cooked and then frozen.

  10. kathy cox says:

    Just followed recipes and made a thick mushroom soup with caps by boiling for 5 mins then sauté with butter, home grown garlic and fresh herbs with olive oil and black pepper. Put in mixer with some cooked potato and boiling water and ‘voila’, a thick grainy wild mushroom soup. No tummy pains either!!

    1. David Gunton says:

      Yes, but are they yummy or not really worth the effort

  11. Duncan says:

    I’ve seen a source recently which references that this is considered poisonous by some and may cause severe gastric upsets even when cooked, is this true? Also just to clarify, are there any other potentially poisonous mushrooms that look similar and have white spores? I know the funeral bell and sulphur tuft have darker pores.. but is there anything else to consider? Just want to be sure as I think I have found a good crop. Thanks

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Honey Fungus can cause some gastric upset in about one in twenty five people but are not considered poisonous. The Shaggy Pholiota can look similar but has brown spores. See http://www.wildfooduk.com/mushroom-guide/shaggy-pholiota/

  12. Maggie Smith says:

    How do you remove honey fungus from tree and soil?

  13. Joakim Dominic says:

    Could you mean Melsopp, that is Norwegian for both the genus “Clitopilus” and the species “Clitopilus prunulus.” Melksopp (melk = milk, sopp = mushroom) is not a Norwegian words. Milk caps are caller “risker” in Norway.

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