Submitted by Gary Hunt
In spite of the extreme heat we have been experiencing, mushrooms continue to appear in our surrounding forested areas. North-facing slopes and moist gullies can yield fun surprises even during extreme heat waves.
One striking example I encountered yesterday at McConnell Lake is Sarcodon imbricatus, aka the Shingled Hedgehog. The mushroom has a large, brown cap, up to 30 cm in diameter, covered with large brown scales. The cap is depressed in the middle. The underside reveals grey, brittle teeth instead of gills. The spore print is brown.
Sarcodon imbricatus is a species of tooth fungus which means it produces spores on tooth-like projections on the underside of the cap.
The species was first named by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 as Hydnum imbricatum which remains a valid synonym to this day. The specific epithet, imbricatus, is the Latin meaning “tiled” or “with overlapping tiles” in reference to the prominent scales. It was placed in the genus Sarcodon in 1881, the name taken from the Greek “flesh” (sarco) “tooth” (odon).
The tooth-like morphology of the spore-bearing surface (called the hymenium) is just one way some fungi have to efficiently increase surface area for massive spore production. Gills and pores are the other two most common ways to accomplish this. There are about 12 genera of North American mushrooms with teeth.
Sarcodon is mycorrhizal and lives in an obligate symbiotic association with conifers.
The mushroom is edible but most older specimens have a bitter taste. In Korea, it used to make a mushroom tea.