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Hericium abietis

[ Basidiomycota > Russulales > Hericiaceae > Hericium . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

This western species of Hericium grows on the wood of conifers in fall and winter from northern California to Alaska. While enormous specimens are often recorded, Hericium abietis is usually about the size of a softball or a soccer ball. It features tightly packed branches that are hung with many thin spines, creating a cascading appearance. When fresh and young the mushroom is creamy white, or sometimes pinkish—but it discolors yellowish to brownish in old age. Young specimens that are scarcely branched might be confused with Hericium erinaceus, but the latter species grows on the wood of hardwoods and has longer teeth.

Thanks to Laurence Boomer for collecting, documenting, and preserving Hericium abietis for study; his collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Saprobic and parasitic on the wood of conifers (including firs, Douglas-fir, and hemlock); growing alone; fall and winter; distributed from northern California to Idaho and Alaska. The illustrated and described collection is from Oregon.

Fruiting Body: 10–30+ cm across; consisting of tightly packed branches arising from a hidden, knob-like mass that is attached to the wood; branches 2-3 cm thick, smooth, adorned with fleshy spines; spines 0.5–1 cm long, up to 1 mm wide, white when fresh and young, bruising faintly brownish and eventually discoloring yellowish to brownish overall.

Flesh: White; not changing when sliced.

Odor and Taste: Not distinctive.

Spore Print: White.

Microscopic Features: Spores 4–5 x 4–4.5 µm; subglobose; smooth or minutely roughened; uniguttulate in KOH; amyloid. Hymenial cystidia 30–45 x 3–4 µm; cylindric; flexuous; apices rounded or subclavate; smooth; thin-walled; hyaline in KOH. Hyphal system dimitic; gloeoplerous hyphae present; clamp connections present.

REFERENCES: (Weir ex Hubert, 1931) K. A. Harrison, 1964. (Hall & Stuntz, 1971; Harrison, 1973; Smith, 1975; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Ginns, 1985; Stalpers, 1996; Trudell & Ammirati, 2009; Desjardin, Wood & Stevens, 2015.) Herb. Kuo 10171302.

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Hericium abietis

Hericium abietis

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Kuo, M. (2016, September). Hericium abietis. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: