Armillaria mellea

Scientific name:  Armillaria mellea (Vahl) P. Kumm.
Derivation of nameArmillaria means "with bracelets,"
referring to the ring on the stipe of many species. Melle-
means "honey" or "honey-colored" referring to the honey
color of the cap of this mushroom.
Synonyms:  Armillariella mellea (Vahl) P. Karst.
Common name(s):  Honey mushroom; Bootlace fungus.
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Agaricales
Family:   Physalacriaceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Parasitic/saprophytic; in
cespitose clusters at the base of living or dead trees (mostly
deciduous), stumps, or arising from buried wood; June
through fall.  
Dimensions:  Caps are 4-10 cm wide; stalks are 5-15 cm
long and 0.5-2 cm thick.   
Cap:  Sticky to dry yellow-brown cap with erect black
hairs over the center.      
Gills: Attached to subdecurrent, whitish.
Spore print: White.
White above the ring, white to buff to brown below
the ring.
Membranous and persistent; whitish, sometimes with
a yellow margin.
Choice with caution. Some individuals are
intolerant and will experience GI distress after
eating this species.
Studies have revealed that what was once
regarded as a species complex under the name
Armillaria mellea is now understood to be a group of
10 or more closely related species. Species determination
based solely on field characters is difficult. See the web
site below for additional information and a key to 9
North American Armillaria species.

More information at

More information about Armillaria mellea and
related species can be found at the following sites:
More information at   

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More information at

Figure 1. Cespitose clusters of the honey mushroom at the
base of a tree. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 2. Close up view of one of the clusters in Figure 1.
Note the darker centers of the caps. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 3. "Honeys" have persistent membranous partial
veils. Photo © Pam Kaminski.

Figure 4. The lower stalks are fibrous and brownish
compared to the whitish portion of the stalk above the
ring. Photo © William Roody.

Figure 5. A decaying oak killed by a species of
Armillaria (see Figure 6). The hyphae of Armillaria
are bioluminescent and wood colonized by this
fungus is referred to as "foxfire." Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 6. Examination of the log in Figure 5 reveals black,
flattened rhizomorphs resembling shoestrings or bootlaces.
These fungal structures occur uderneath the sloughing bark
of trees killed by pathogenic Armillaria species, including
A. mellea. The rhizomorphs spread out from infected trees
and are able to infect additional trees. As a result, A.
mellea and other pathogenic Armillaria spp. are
important forest pathogens.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 7. These strange misshapen structures are also an
Armillaria sp. Read the description of Entoloma
to understand the connection between
structures such as these, Entoloma abortivum, and
spp. Photo © Gary Emberger.


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