Honey Fungus - Armillaria mellea, click for a larger image
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Honey Fungus - Armillaria mellea, click for a larger image

Honey Fungus - Armillaria mellea

Family - Physalacriaceae

A distinctive large fleshy parasitic fungi found on and around stumps of both broad leaved and coniferous trees, and occasionally on dying trees themselves.  It can be found over most of the UK usually from around June to November.  The cap is a light to chocolate brown colour, convex when young gradually flattening, 4-15cm (1.6-6in) on a 6-15cm (2.4-6in) tall slightly tapering stem with a ring approx one quarter the way down from the top, gills are white when young gradually turning brown with age.  The cap splits and tears as it ages.  Honey fungus spreads by spores in the air germinating on damaged or dead wood.  It has a second growth regime where it spreads by black / brown roots called rhizomorphs consisting of a bunch of thread like filaments that infect other plants by latching onto their roots and taking away water and nutrients.  It apparently is especially partial to Oak.

Its name is derived from the Latin "Armillaria" meaning "scaly" and "mellea" from "mel" for Honey.  Honey fungus can spread many meters from the original infected plant.  One species in America, A. ostoyae is believed to be the largest living organism on earth, growing in the Malheur National Forest in East Oregon, it is reputed to be 3.5 miles across.

FBCP do not advise or recommend that Honey Mushroom - Armillaria mellea is eaten or used as a herbal remedy.

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