Honey Mushroom
(Armillaria mellea)


Honey Mushrooms drawing

Honey Mushrooms

pen-and-ink drawing

This is a yellow or brown mushroom with a moist cap that is 1 to 4 inches across, tightly convex at first, with distinct scales resembling tiny, stubble-like hairs toward the cap's center.

Honey Mushrooms

Honey Mushroom Caps, brown variety

Note the stubble-covered, convex caps.

Honey Mushrooms, Yellow Variety

Honey Mushrooms, yellow variety

Note the tightly clustered yellow-capped mushrooms.

Under the cap are white gills that run down the stem slightly. The spore print is white.

The fibrous stalk, which tapers toward the base, is 3 to 8 inches long and 1/4 to 5/8 inch thick. Unlike the similar, edible ringless honey mushroom, there's a white or yellowish ring on the upper stalk.

Yellow Honey Mushroom, side view

Honey Mushroom, yellow variety

Note the gills running down the stalk, above the ring.

In the fall, large clusters of this mushroom, connected at their bases, can be found growing at the foot of living or dead trees or stumps, especially oaks, throughout eastern North America
Brown Honey Mushrooms

Clustered Brown Honey Mushrooms

Note the stubbly hairs toward the cap centers, and white deposits of spores on some caps dropped from other caps' gills above them.

Actually a complex of species from a microscopic perspective, the honey mushroom is abundant and widespread, but not easy for beginners to identify.

Honey Mushrooms on Stump

Brown Honey Mushrooms Covering a Stump

The fungus which killed the tree is still feeding off the stump.

A parasite and saprophyte (meaning it lives off dead trees after killing them), the fungus can decimate an entire forest and fill it with mushroom clusters.

The honey mushroom is one of my favorite fall mushrooms. Moist, rich, and meaty, it also adds a slight silkiness to soups, stews, and sauces, the way okra does.

Use it as a meat substitute with those seasonings traditionally used for meat, or sauté it, add it to noodle recipes, grain dishes, burgers, loaves, or stuffings.

Yellow Honey Mushroom Cap

Yellow Honey Mushroom Cap, close-up

The stems are somewhat gritty, so some people discard them, but they're fine in soups and sauces if you puree them after cooking.

Cook honey mushrooms for at least 15 minutes or you may become sick, and eat a small amount the first time; they don't agree with everyone.

If you can't find honey mushrooms, the closest commercial substitute is the shiitake mushroom.