Honey mushroom (Armillaria mellea; Armillaria borealis) photo and description

Honey mushroom (Armillaria mellea; Armillaria borealis)

  • Department: Basidiomycota (Basidiomycetes)
  • Subdivision: Agaricomycotina (Agaricomycetes)
  • Class: Agaricomycetes (Agaricomycetes)
  • Subclass: Agaricomycetidae (Agaricomycetes)
  • Order: Agaricales (Agaric or Lamellar)
  • Family: Physalacriaceae (Physalacriaceae)
  • Genus: Armillaria (Honey)
  • Species: Armillaria mellea; Armillaria borealis (Honey mushroom)
    Other names for the mushroom:

  • Autumn honey fungus
  • Honey honey
  • Honey honey fungus
  • Northern honey mushroom

Synonyms for both types at the same time :

  • Honey honey

Autumn mushroom

Autumn honey fungus includes two species that are practically indistinguishable in appearance, this autumn honey honey (Armillaria mellea), and northern autumn honey (Armillaria borealis). This article describes both of these at the same time.

Synonyms for Autumn honey mushroom :

  • Honey honey fungus

  • Honey honey fungus
  • Agaricus melleus
  • Armillariella mellea
  • Omphalia mellea
  • Omphalia var. mellea
  • Agaricites melleus
  • Lepiota mellea
  • Clitocybe mellea
  • Armillariella olivacea
  • Agaricus sulphureus
  • Agaricus versicolor
  • Stropharia versicolor
  • Geophila versicolor
  • Fungus versicolor

Synonyms for northern autumn mushroom (Armillaria borealis) :

  • Northern honey mushroom

  • Northern autumn mushroom


A cap with a diameter of 2-9 cm (up to 12 in O. northern, up to 15 in O. honey) cm, very variable, convex, then flat-spread with curved edges, with a flat depression in the center, then the edges of the cap can bend upwards. The color gamut is extremely wide, on average, yellowish-brownish, sepia colors, with different shades of yellow, orange, olive and gray tones, of very different strength. The center of the cap is usually darker in color than the edge, however, this is not because of the color of the cuticle, but because of the denser scales. The scales are small, brown, brown or one-color with the color of the cap, disappearing with age. The private veil is dense, thick, felt, whitish, yellowish, or cream, with white, yellow, greenish-sulfur-yellow, ocher scales that turn brown with age, brownish.

Honey mushroom

The pulp is whitish, thin, fibrous. The smell is pleasant, mushroom. According to various sources, the taste is either not pronounced usual, mushroom, or slightly astringent, or reminiscent of the taste of Camembert cheese.

The plates are weakly descending on the stem, white, then yellowish or buffy-cream, then spotty-brown or rusty-brown. In the plates, from damage by insects, brown spots are characteristic, caps protruding upward, which can create a characteristic pattern of brown radial rays.

Autumn mushroom

Spore powder is white.

Spores are relatively elongated, 7-9 x 4.5-6 μm.

The leg is 6-10 cm high (up to 15 in honey), up to 1.5 cm in diameter, cylindrical, may have a spindle-shaped thickening at the bottom, or simply thicken at the bottom up to 2 cm, the colors and shades of the cap are somewhat paler. The leg is slightly scaly, the scales are felt-fluffy, disappearing over time. There are powerful, up to 3-5 mm, black, dichotomously branching rhizomorphs that can create a whole network of enormous sizes, and spread from one tree, stump or dead wood to another.

Interspecific differences between O. northern and O. honey - Honey honey is more confined to the southern regions, and northern O., respectively, to the northern regions. Both species can occur in temperate latitudes. The only clear difference between these two species is a microscopic feature - the presence of a buckle at the base of basidia in O. northern, and its absence in O. honey. This feature is not available for verification by the overwhelming majority of mushroom pickers, therefore, both of these species are described in our article.


Fruiting from the second half of July until the end of autumn on wood of any kind, including those under the ground, in growths and families, up to very significant ones. The main layer, as a rule, lasts from the end of August to the third decade of September, does not last long, 5-7 days. The rest of the time, fruiting is local, however, a fairly significant number of fruiting bodies can be found in such local points. The fungus is an extremely serious parasite of forests, it moves to living trees, and quickly kills them.

Similar species

  • Dark honey fungus (Armillaria ostoyae) - The fungus is yellow in color. Its scales are large, dark brown or dark, which is not the case with the Autumn Openak. The ring is also dense and thick.
  • Thick-legged honey agaric (Armillaria gallica) - This species has a thin ring, tearing, disappearing over time, and the cap is approximately evenly covered with rather large scales. The species grows on damaged, dead wood.
  • Onion-footed honey fungus (Armillaria cepistipes) - In this species, the ring is thin, torn, disappearing over time, like in A. gallica, but the cap is covered with small scales, concentrated closer to the center, and the cap is always naked at the edge. The species grows on damaged, dead wood. Also, this species can grow on the ground with the roots of herbaceous plants, such as strawberries, strawberries, peonies, daylilies, etc., which is excluded for other similar species that have a ring on the leg, they require wood.
  • Drying honey fungus (Armillaria tabescens), Social honey fungus (Armillaria socialis) - Mushrooms do not have a ring. According to modern data, according to the results of phylogenetic analysis, this is one and the same species (and even a new genus - Desarmillaria tabescens), but, at the moment (2018), this is not a generally accepted opinion. For the time being, it is believed that drying up occurs on the American continent, and social oxygen in Europe and Asia.

Some sources indicate that mushrooms can be confused with certain species of Scale (Pholiota spp.), As well as with representatives of the genus Hypholoma (Hypholoma spp.) - sulfur-yellow, seropastinous and brick-red, and even with some Galerina (Galerina spp.). In my opinion, this is almost impossible to do. The only similarities between these mushrooms is that they grow in the same places.


Edible mushroom. According to various opinions, from mediocre taste to almost delicacy. The pulp of this mushroom is dense, poorly digestible, so the mushroom requires a long heat treatment, at least 20-25 minutes. In this case, the mushroom can be cooked immediately, without preliminary boiling and draining the broth. Also, the mushroom can be dried. The legs of young mushrooms are as edible as the caps, but with age they become woody, and when collecting age mushrooms, the legs should not be taken.

Video about mushroom Openok:

Author's notes

In my personal opinion, this is one of the best mushrooms, and I always wait for the layer of mushrooms to go, and try to collect those whose ring has not yet come off the cap. At the same time, nothing else is needed, even white ones! I love to eat this mushroom in absolutely any form, both fried and in soup, and pickled is just a song! True, the collection of these mushrooms is routine, in the case when there is not particularly abundant fruiting, when with one movement of the knife you can throw a dozen or more fruit bodies into the basket, but this is more than pays off for their excellent (for me) taste, and excellent, hard and crunchy texture , which many other mushrooms will envy.


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2. Phllips, R. Mushrooms and other fungi of Great Britain and Europe. London, 1981.

3. Hansen, L., Knudsen, H. Nordic Macromycetes. Vol. 2 (Polyporales, Boletales, Agaricales, Russulales). Nordsvamp-Copenhgagen, 1992

4. Koch, Rachel & Wilson, Andrew & Séné, Olivier & Henkel, Terry & Aime, Mary. (2017). Resolved phylogeny and biogeography of the root pathogen Armillaria and its gasteroid relative, Guyanagaster. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 17.10.1186 / s12862-017-0877-3.

5. Antonín V, Jankovsky L, Lochman J, Tomšovsky M. (2006). Armillaria socialis - morphological-anatomical and ecological characteristics, pathology, distribution in the Czech Republic and Europe (PDF). Czech Mycology 58 (3-4): 209-24.