What You Should Know
Hydnellum cyanopodium is an inedible fungus in the family Bankeraceae. It is recognized by its bluish to bluish-purple color of the sporocarps, bluish flesh interior flesh and droplets on the margin when young, and mycorrhizal association Sitka spruce. It occurs in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It is perhaps best known for its stunning guttation display - bright red "juice" droplets that adorn the periphery and upper surface of fresh specimens.
It is a very rare mushroom, known only from a handful of sites from central Humboldt County coast in California to Clatsop County on the northern Oregon coast.
Other names: Blue Foot, Bleeding Blue Tooth.
Hydnellum cyanopodium Mushroom Identification
The fruit bodies have irregularly shaped caps measuring 4–8 cm (1.6–3.1 in) in diameter. The cap surface is rough with small hardpoints, has ridges, and is a dark blue-wine red color that changes later to lavender. The outer cap edge turns whitish with age. Young fruit bodies are covered with drops of red juice.
The flesh has a woody or cork-like texture, and a strong, "disagreeable" odor and taste.
The spines on the underside of the caps are up to 3 mm long with a color ranging from initially grayish violet-blue to wine-blue with brownish tints, to dull grayish-green.
The stipe measures 2–5 cm (0.8–2.0 in) long by 1–2 cm (0.4–0.8 in) thick, and tends to root into the ground. Its color is deep bluish-black (with similarly colored flesh within) with a whitish mycelium at the base. Staining the spines or the cap or stipe flesh with potassium hydroxide turns it blue-green.
Angular, cross-shaped with four to six thick points, and measure 4–5 by 3.5–4.5 µm. The spore shape has been likened to jacks.
Hydnellum cyanopodium Look-Alikes
Can be readily distinguished from H. cyanopodium by its lack of a medicinal odor, the absence of red juice drops, and the orange to the rusty-brown color of its stipe. H. caeruleum can be further distinguished microscopically by its roughly spherical spores. H. scleropodium has a smoother texture and more pallid colors.
Found in Nova Scotia, Canada, has an odor that has been described as "medicinal".
Similar, but lacks the bluish hues and has a much broader distribution.
Hydnellum cyanopodium Taxonomy
The fungus was described as new to science to Canadian mycologist Kenneth A. Harrison in 1964. The type was collected by Alexander H. Smith in Crescent City, California, on November 1937. It is kept at the University of Michigan Herbarium. Harrison considered this species — in addition to H. cruentum and H. scleropodium — to be members of the stirps (species thought to be descendants of a common ancestor) he called "cruentum". This stirps is characterized by the presence of red juice drops on young fruit bodies, bluish spines, and similar spore morphology.
Photo 1 - Author: Ron Pastorino (Ronpast) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)
Photo 2 - Author: Ron Pastorino (Ronpast) (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)