Honey Mushroom

Armillariella mellea

Thomas Pruss

Honey Mushrooms are very common in our area. They are usually found at the base of deciduous trees (loses leaves in Fall) or pine trees. They are also found on stumps and old wood, and sometimes they are parasites on live trees or shrubs.

The cap of this mushroom can grow up to four inches across. The cap is oval and becomes convex (dented) when it gets older. It is usually yellow or rusty-brown, sometimes with small black hairs.

The cap can be dry or sticky to the touch.

Under the cap, the gills of this mushroom are whitish, turning yellow and then reddish as it gets older.

The stalk of a Honey Mushroom is up to six inches high and 3/4 inch wide.

Copyright, Hiroshi Takahashi

Honey Mushrooms, like all mushrooms are only a small part of the fungus. The main body of the mushroom is called mycelium and is hard to see. Mycelium can spread for miles, and therefore are the world's largest organisms. Some Honey Mushrooms are estimated to be over 400 years old.

The mushroom part of the fungus is like the flower on a larger plant. Its purpose is to create spores (like seeds) which will help the fungus spread to new areas.

Copyright, Fred Stevens

Honey Mushrooms "bloom" in late Summer and early Fall.

These mushrooms are edible, but there are many dangerous mushrooms which are not Honey Mushrooms, even though they look just like them. Even Honey Mushrooms cause upset stomachs in some people.

Many animals that eat mushrooms, such as Eastern Box Turtles, Eastern Gray Squirrels, and Leopard Slugs, eat these mushrooms too.

Sometimes Honey Mushrooms can have a mutualistic relationship with trees and shrubs, helping share nutrients from the soil. Other times, especially if there are too many, Honey Mushrooms become parasites.

Horned Fungus Beetles and Fungus Gnats use Honey Mushrooms as shelter as well as food.

Honey Mushrooms can act as decomposers when they break down old stumps and logs.


Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Plants


Eastern Box Turtle

Horned Fungus Beetle

Black Oak

Flowering Dogwood H

Leopard Slug

Fungus Gnat

White Oak

Witch Hazel H

Horned Fungus Beetle

Snow Flea

Flowering Dogwood

American Elm H

Fungus Gnat

Soil Mite

Mockernut Hickory

American Beech H

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Witch Hazel

Black Cherry H

Eastern Chipmunk

Virginia Pine

Eastern White Pine H

White-tailed Deer

American Elm

White Oak H

Snow Flea

Yellow Poplar

Eastern Chipmunk D

Soil Mite

American Beech

Eastern Gray Squirrel D

White-footed Mouse

Black Cherry

Willow Oak H

Eastern White Pine

White-footed Mouse D

Willow Oak

Relationship to Humans:

As mentioned above, this mushroom is edible, but can be a problem for some people. There are also many poisonous mushrrom which look just like the ones you can eat. You should never eat a wild mushroom unless an expert has told you its safe. Honey Mushrooms can also be a problem on trees which people want to keep around, if there are too many mushrooms on it. Honey Mushrooms can be helpful as decomposers of old wood.


Armillariella mellea


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