What You Should Know
Sarcodon imbricatus is a species of tooth fungus in the order Thelephorales. The mushroom has a large, brownish cap with large brown scales and may reach 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. On the underside, it sports grayish, brittle teeth instead of gills, and has white flesh. It is associated with spruce (Picea), appearing in autumn. It ranges throughout North America and Europe, although collections from the British Isles are now assigned to the similar species Sarcodon squamosus.
Old mushrooms of Sarcodon imbricatus and related species contain blue-green pigments, which are used for dyeing wool in Norway.
Other names: Shingled Hedgehog, Scaly Hedgehog.
Sarcodon imbricatus Mushroom Identification
Mycorrhizal with conifers and, reportedly, hardwoods; growing alone or gregariously; widely distributed in North America.
5-30 cm wide; convex to broadly convex with a central depression (the depression is sometimes perforated in age); dry; conspicuously covered with coarse, raised, dark brown to blackish scales; pale to dark brown underneath the scales; the margin inrolled.
Running down the stem; covered with spines or "teeth" that are .5-1.5 cm long; pale brown at first, becoming darker with age.
4-10 cm long; 1.5-3.5 cm thick; dry; fairly smooth, except where punctuated by aborted spines; pale or brownish; becoming hollow; base with white mycelium.
Whitish to pale brownish; soft.
Odor and Taste
Taste mild or bitter; odor not distinctive.
Flesh slightly olive or negative with KOH.
Spores 5-8.5 x 5-7.5 µ; irregularly globose; nodulose. Clamp connections are present.
Sarcodon imbricatus Look-Alikes
Has a similar shaggy cap.
The bitter and inedible can be distinguished by its bluish-black stipe.
Distinguished by a coarse, dark-scaled cap and brown-toothed fertile surface.
Similar but is less scaly, very bitter, and its context turns blue-green in KOH.
Sarcodon imbricatus Taxonomy
The Swedish botanist Olof Celsius reported in 1732 that Sarcodon imbricatus occurred in the vicinity of Uppsala, and Carl Linnaeus wrote of it in his 1737 work Flora lapponica. It was one of the species initially described by Linnaeus, as Hydnum imbricatum, in the second volume of his Species Plantarum in 1753. The specific epithet is the Latin imbricatus meaning "tiled" or "with overlapping tiles". It was then placed in the genus Sarcodon by Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten in 1881.
For many years, Sarcodon imbricatus was described as associated with both spruce and pine, although the latter forms were smaller and noted to be more palatable by mushroom hunters in Norway. Furthermore, the mushroom has been used as a source of pigment and collectors noted that fresh specimens collected under pine yielded pigment, but only old ones collected under spruce. Molecular analysis of the DNA revealed the two forms to be distinct genetically, and thus populations of what had been described as S. imbricatus were now assigned to Sarcodon squamosus, which includes collections in the British Isles and the Netherlands.
Photo 1 - Author: Chase G. Mayers (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International)
Photo 2 - Author: Holger Krisp (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Photo 3 - Author: Jerzy Opioła (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 4 - Author: Andreas Kunze (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)