E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Hericium abietis (Weir ex Hubert) K.A. Harrison
bear's-head
Hericiaceae

Species account author: Ian Gibson.
Extracted from Matchmaker: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Introduction to the Macrofungi
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Distribution of Hericium abietis
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Species Information

Summary:
Hericium abietis forms clusters of white to salmon buff, soft, icicle-like spines on dead conifers, with spores 4.8-5.3 x 4.3-4.9 microns. It is distinguished from H. americanum and H. coralloides by habitat and spore size, and differs somewhat in form as well. Arora discusses nomenclatural intricacies in this genus, and the approach of Ginns(5) from 1993 is used here, in which H. ramosum as referred to by Arora is called H. coralloides (Scop.: Fr.) Pers. and H. coralloides as referred to by Arora, the hardwood lover similar to H. abietis with pure white color when fresh, slightly longer spines up to 4cm, and slightly larger spores, is called H. americanum Ginns. H. abietis has the distribution BC, WA, OR, ID, AK, CA, CO, and MT, (Ginns).
Cap:
10-75cm or more wide and high, with "an open to compact branched framework from which tufts of icicle-like spines hang", the branches arising from a tough rooting base; "white to creamy, yellowish-buff, pale ochraceous, or salmon-buff", (Arora), bald pliable fleshy-fibrous branches up to 3cm thick, rebranching and ending in bundles of spines, some spines in interior of fruitbody on short knobs arising from the main branch; white to cream, bruising to yellowish gray and finally light ochraceous orange, on drying dark ochraceous orange, (Hall)
Teeth:
up to 2.5cm long, usually 0.5-1cm long, soft but brittle, "arranged in tufts or clusters that are mainly grouped at the branch tips", (Arora), up to 1cm long and 0.1cm wide, fleshy, awl-shaped, round in cross-section, (Hall)
Stem:
base is thick, tough, and rooting (Arora), knob-like and inserted into cracks in the wood (Hall)
Microscopic:
spores 4.5-5.5 x 4-5 microns, round or nearly round, smooth or minutely roughened, amyloid, (Arora), spores 4.8-5.3 x 4.3-4.9 microns, round to nearly round, smooth or finely punctate-roughened, amyloid, not cyanophilous; basidia 4-spored, 30-40 x 6.7 microns, clavate; cystidia 4.7-5.5 microns wide, elongate, "extending into and becoming part of the interwoven tramal hyphae of the spine, thick-walled, distributed sparsely throughout the hymenium except at the spine tip where their occurrence is more frequent, encrusted, with granular contents"; hyphae system dimitic, hyphae 2.7-13 microns wide, "with abundant thick-walled elements leading to cystidia in the spine trama, clamps present", (Hall)
Spore Deposit:
white (Arora, Hall)

Habitat / Range

single or sometimes several together on dead conifers, especially fir and Douglas-fir, mainly in the fall, (Arora), Abies amabilis, A. concolor, A. grandis, A. lasiocarpa, A. procera, (all true fir), Picea engelmannii (Engelmann spruce), Picea sitchensis (Sitka spruce), Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir), Tsuga heterophylla (western hemlock), Tsuga mertensiana (mountain hemlock), (Ginns), on conifer logs, especially fir and hemlock, (Trudell)

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Edibility

delicious (Arora)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Hall(1), Arora(1)*, Ginns(5), Trudell(4)*, AroraPocket*

References for the fungi

General References