Hydnellum peckii: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Hydnellum peckii Mushroom
Hydnellum peckii is not a poisonous mushroom but tastes so bitter as to be inedible.
A member of the genus Hydnellum of the family Bankeraceae. It is a widespread (North America to Europe) hydnoid species, producing spores on the surface of vertical spines or tooth-like projections that hang from the undersurface of the fruit bodies.
The fruit bodies of Hydnellum peckii are found growing solitary, scattered, or clustered together on the ground under conifers, often among mosses and pine needle litter. They typically have a funnel-shaped cap with a white edge, although the shape can be highly variable.
Young, moist fruit bodies can "bleed" bright red guttation droplets that contain a pigment known to have anticoagulant properties similar to heparin.
Some Hydnellum species produce yellow drops while some produce coffee-colored drops.
Strawberries & Cream
The Bleeding Hydnellum
The bleeding Tooth Fungus
The Red-juice Tooth
Hydnellum peckii Identification
3 to 8cm across when fully developed, sometimes round but often oval or multi-lobed; initially shallowly domed or flat topped but with a bumpy surface, becoming slightly funnel-shaped with a thin margin; white or very pale pink, palest near the margin, becoming deeper pink or buff and eventually turning brown from the centre before blackening and decaying. Young caps often exude red liquid droplets; cap flesh is tough and fibrous. Above-ground height 3 to 10cm.
1 to 5mm long (shortest near to the cap margin) and less than 1mm in diameter; crowded, decurrent; pinkish, becoming buff later as the spores mature.
The stem of the Devil's Tooth fungus is very variable in size, sometimes as squat as just 0.5cm in height; occasionally as tall as 5 or 6cm but with most of the stem below ground; diameter ranges from 0.5 to 2cm; usually more or less cylindrical but sometimes tapering in towards the base. Pinkish buff like the outer region of a mature cap; coarsely velvety in texture.
Spore print: Dull brown. Almost spheroidal but with a sharp point at one end; 5-5.5 x 4-4.5µm; tuberculate (covered with small, wart-like nodules); inamyloid.
Habitat & Ecological role
On soil in coniferous woodland; nearly always with pine trees, with which it is ectomycorrhizal.
Late summer and autumn.
How grows Hydnellum peckii mushroom?
Unlike most mushrooms and toadstools where the pileus (cap) and stipe are differentiated at an early stage and the edge of the cap has limited capacity to expand, Hydnellum peckii and its relatives, grow differently.
The fruit body starts as a vertical column of hyphae, which eventually expands at the apex to produce a cap. The edge of this cap can continue growing as conditions throughout the season dictate and caps will often incorporate surrounding vegetation and grow into one another forming a large mass of fertile ‘cap’ sitting on several separate stems.
It is not unusual to see dead fruiting bodies producing new, fertile growth as conditions become suitable again later in the season. The flesh thus develops slowly and is relatively tough – this species can remain recognizable for several months – a great help when trying to record it.
Hydnellum peckii Uses
This mushroom is valued by natural dyers, who dry it and use it alone to create a beige dye or combine it with mordants (substances, such as allum or iron, that cause a dye to set into fabric and other surfaces) to create blue-green hues.
Hydnellum peckii Medicinal Properties
In the medical realm, the fungus is known to contain atromentin, which is similar to heparin, a widely known and used anticoagulant. Atromentin may also have anti-bacterial properties.
Thelephoric acid is another chemical contained in the mushroom, which may have uses in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. So don’t let the creepy nature of the young fungus scare you away. Bleeding tooth fungus may be the answer to some of our scarier medical riddles.
Hydenllum Peckii Lifecycle
Hydnellum peckii Taxonomy & Etymology
This mushroom was first described in 1912 by American mycologist Howard James Banker (1866-1940), who gave this species its present name Hydnellum peckii.
Synonyms of Hydnellum peckii include Hydnum diabolus, reflecting the common name Devil's Tooth, Calodon peckii, and Hydnum peckii.
Hydnellum, the generic name, is derived from the ancient Greek word hudnon, meaning an edible mushroom; this term was applied particularly to edible truffles.
The specific epithet peckii honours American mycologist Charles Horton Peck (1833-1917) who described nearly 3000 fungi species of North America. The standard abbreviation Peck is used to identify Charles Horton Peck as the author when citing a botanical/mycological name.
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