Armillaria mellea

Armillaria mellea
Image Courtesy of Peter Katsaros
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Group of Fungi: Agarics

Family: Physalacriaceae

Latin Name: Armillaria mellea (Vahl) P. Kumm.

Synonym(s): Armillariella mellea (Vahl) P. Karst.

Common Name: Honey Mushroom or Shoestring Fungus

Description: Total height 2–6 in (5–15 cm); cap 1 5/8–4 in (4–10 cm) wide, with a distinct umbo, yellow to honey yellow; upper surface with small, hairlike scales; gills closely spaced, white; stalk 1 5/8–5.5 in (4–14 cm) long, 1/4–3/4 in (0.5–2 cm) in diameter, white at first but becoming rust-brown to cinnamon-pink; annulus present near top of stalk, cottony, white but often with a yellow margin; spores white in mass.

Biological Role: Both a decomposer of wood and a pathogen that is capable of killing some trees.

Habitat: Commonly occurring in large clusters around the base of living or dead trees, stumps, or on the ground from buried wood.

Geographical Distribution: Found throughout eastern North America.

Comments: The mushroom known as Armillaria mellea is actually a complex of several species, several of which undoubted occur in NCR parks. This mushroom is considered edible, but only after it has been well cooked. One of the common names of Armillaria mellea relates to the dark, stringlike ("shoestring") rhizomorphs that can be found beneath the bark of trees on which it occurs. Interestingly, the vegetative body (mycelium) of Armillaria mellea is bioluminescent (produces biological light), commonly referred to as "foxfire" when observed in the forest at night.

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