What You Should Know
Phellodon niger is a tough leathery mushroom that belongs to a group that has spines forming the spore-bearing layer on the underside of the cap. It is common in karri and the wetter regions of jarrah forest fruiting in groups in deep leaf litter. It is well disguised as its color blends in with wet well-decayed leaves.
This inedible mushroom often has twigs and conifer needles embedded in its caps. Even the woodland bugs seem to find this fungus hard to get their teeth into.
Other names: Black Tooth.
Phellodon niger Mushroom Identification
Caps grow to about 5 cm diameter, often with several fused together to form multi-stemmed structures. It has a felt-like radially patterned surface that is generally black with concentric zones of dark brown and a white margin. The crowded spines on the underside are dark gray-black to purple, and about 2-3mm long. They do not extend on to the margin of the underside but may extend a short distance down the upper stem. Stems are tough, black or very dark brown-black and often flattened and grooved along their length. When the fruit bodies dry out, they have a strong odor of fenugreek.
Phellodon niger Taxonomy and Etymology
In 1815 the great Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries described this species, giving it the name Hydnum nigrum. In 1881 Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten (1834 - 1917) transferred the Black Tooth fungus to the genus Phellodon, renaming it as Phellodon niger.
Common synonyms of Phellodon niger include Hydnum nigrum Fr., and Hydnellum nigrum (Fr.) P. Karst.
Phellodon niger is the type species of the genus Phellodon, in which there are currently only five species recorded in Britain.
In 1881 the genus Phellodon was circumscribed by Finnish mycologist Petter Karsten; the generic name comes from phell-meaning cork, and -don meaning tooth. This is indeed a tough, cork-like tooth fungus.
The specific epithet niger means black.
Phellodon niger Chemistry
Phellodon niger has been a source for several bioactive compounds: the cyathane-type diterpenoids, nigernin A and B; a terphenyl derivative called phellodonin (2',3'-diacetoxy-3,4,5',6',4''-pentahydroxy-p-terphenyl); grifolin; and 4-O-methylgrifolic acid. Additional nigernins (C through F) were reported in 2011.
Fruitbodies are used to make a gray-blue or green dye.
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