What You Should Know
Suillus bovinus is a widespread small, orange-rusty brown bolete, with a convex to flat cap and short, ringless stem. This edible mushroom often appears in large groups.
The genus Suillus belongs to the order Boletales and has distinctive features that are shared by many of the different Suillus species. These middle-sized fungi have a firm, cylindrical stem that often has a ring resulting from the remains from the partial vail (the membrane that protects the spore-producing pores under the cap as the mushroom develops).
Gray-olive pores age to dull yellow or tan, DNS, & come in many sizes & shapes. Yellow-tan stem stains reddish-brown from age and/or handling. Yellow stem flesh darkens toward the base. Likes Scots Pine. There are a rare type with bluing flesh, var. viridocaerulescens. Might be confused with Suillus variegatus, but easily distinguished on the account of the not blueing flesh and viscid cap surface.
It is said that European medieval knights considered this mushroom of inferior quality preferring the Tricholoma species (now considered poisonous) that grew in Pine forests, leaving this mushroom for cattle-drovers, and this was the origin for its name.
Other names: Jersey Cow Mushroom, Bovine Bolete, Euro Cow Bolete.
Suillus bovinus Mushroom Identification
3 to 10cm across and often irregular and wavy at the margin, the caps of Suillus bovinus vary from pale yellow to deep orange, usually somewhat paler at the margin. When cut, the white to clay pink flesh of the cap does not change color.
Tubes and Pores
The tubes terminate in large compound pores (divided into usually two compartments). The pores are yellow, becoming gray-green and turning darker when bruised.
Nearer to the stem the pores are progressively more elongated, and at the point of attachment, the tubes are sometimes slightly decurrent to the stem.
Club-shaped in young specimens, the clay-colored stipe of Suillus bovinus soon becomes more or less parallel-sided; it is typically 6 to 10mm in diameter and 5 to 8cm tall and, unlike many members of the Suillus genus, it does not have a stem ring.
The whitish stem flesh has a pink tinge near the base of the stem.
Subfusiform, smooth, 8-10 x 3-4μm.
Olive-green or brown.
Slightly fruity odor and a faintly sweet taste.
Habitat & Ecological role
Ectomycorrhizal, usually beneath Scots Pine but also with other many other kinds of pines and sometimes with other conifers; often beside woodland paths and in small clearings rather than in deep forest shade.
Suillus bovinus Taxonomy and Etymology
When Carl Linnaeus described the mushroom in 1755, he named it Boletus bovinus. In 1796 French physician and naturalist Henri François Anne de Roussel (1748 - 1812) transferred this species to the Suillus genus and so its accepted scientific name became Suillus bovinus.
The Bovine Bolete gets its common name and its specific epithet from its similarity (in color only!) to a Jersey Cow. The generic name Suillus means of pigs (swine) and is a reference to the greasy nature of the caps of fungi in this genus.
Suillus bovinus is a gregarious bolete, often crowding together in tufts - a most un-bolete-like behavior - so that caps become lopsided and distorted from pressing against one another, as in the picture above which was taken in late December under pine trees in the hills near Picota in the Algarve region of southern Portugal.
Suillus bovinus Cooking Notes
Suillus is not the best mushrooms when used fresh but is improved by slicing, drying, and then re-hydrating. When cooked the Bovine Bolete flesh becomes violet.
Suillus bovinus tastes mild, although it is not highly regarded. When cooked, it releases a lot of fluid, which can be collected and reduced or strained to make a sauce. Its flavor is made more intense by drying.
The soft and rubbery consistency of older specimens—as well as their proneness to maggot infestation—renders them almost inedible.
Fruit bodies are part of the later summer diet of the red squirrel in Eurasia, which collects the mushrooms and stores them in tree forks for a ready food supply after the onset of frost.
Several fly species often use S. bovinus fruit bodies to rear their young, including Bolitophila rossica, Exechia separata, Exechiopsis indecisa, Pegomya deprimata, and Pegohylemyia silvatica.
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