Armillaria tabescens: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Armillaria tabescens Mushroom
Armillaria tabescens, commonly known as the ringless honey mushroom, is one of the most prolific edible wild mushrooms of early fall.
There are many forms of Honey Fungus or Honey Mushrooms as some call them, and in the past they all shared the scientific name Armillaria mellea. Nowadays it is generally accepted that there are several distinct species, one of which, Armillaria tabescens, does not have a stem ring. This mushroom is on average a little smaller and usually darker than Armillaria mellea.
This mushroom has many lookalikes, some of which are deadly, others will make you very sick.
Synonyms: DesArmillaria tabescens (Scop.) R. A., Armillariella tabescens (Scop.) Singer.
Other names: Ringless Honey Mushroom, Honey Mushroom.
Armillaria tabescens Identification
Look for a cap that ranges in color from straw-yellow to tan to maroon-brown and is covered with tiny scales. The scales tend to flake off with age leaving a slightly pitted bumpy texture. The gills are close to distant, will run a short way down the stem, and be white or pinkish with age. The gills will slowly bruise brown when damaged and will leave a pure white spore deposit. The stems of this fungus will taper and seemingly fuse together at their base in a cepitose growth pattern.
3–6 cm across at maturity; convex at first, becoming broadly convex, flat, or shallowly depressed in age; dry; when young covered with darker brown scales, but at maturity the scales are often concentrated near the center and vaguely radially arranged; tan to tawny brown or cinnamon brown—or sometimes yellow to yellowish; the margin often becoming slightly lined.
Running down the stem or nearly so; close or nearly distant; short-gills frequent; whitish with pinkish hints; sometimes bruising or discoloring slightly pinkish to brownish.
5–8 cm long; 0.5–1 cm thick; tapering to base; bald and pale grayish to brownish near apex, darker brown and nearly hairy below; without a ring.
Flesh: Whitish to watery tan; not changing when sliced.
Odor and Taste: Odor not distinctive; taste bitter, or not distinctive.
Spore Print: White.
Armillaria tabescens Habitat
The Ringless Honey Mushroom is a parasite and saprobe on the wood of hardwood trees. It seems to prefer for oaks but can attack any type of hardwood tree. Unlike most other honey mushrooms, Armillaria tabescens usually fruits terrestrially. The mushrooms can and do grow directly from tree stumps or right at the base of living trees, but I more often find them over 50cm from the host tree’s base and they may appear as far out as the outermost branches of the tree.
These fungi are Native to the east coast of the United States, from the Mid-Atlantic states south, and west to mid-Texas and Oklahoma. You can find them in parts of New England, like CT and MA, but I am not sure about Northern New England. Be very careful of your identification there.
Ringless honey mushrooms grow exclusively on root wood. They are primarily saprobes, aka decomposers, but may also act as parasites and/or symbiotes with living trees. These fungi may appear nestled at the base of a living tree, on or between tree roots (either exposed roots, or ones just under the soil), or near dead stumps.
Armillaria tabescens Taxonomy
This species was described in 1772 by Joannes Antonius Scopoli (1723 - 1788), who named it Agaricus tabescens. (In those days most gilled fungi were initially placed in a giant Agaricus genus, now redistributed to many other genera.) Ringless Honey Fungus was moved into its present genus in 1921 by the French mycologist Louis Emel (dates unknown).
Synonyms of Armillaria tabescens include Agaricus tabescens Scop., Lentinus caespitosus Berk., Pleurotus caespitosus (Berk.) Sacc., Clitocybe tabescens (Scop.) Bres., Armillaria mellea var. tabescens (Scop.) Rea & Ramsb., and Armillariella tabescens (Scop.) Singer.
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