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

Sarcodon imbricatus (L.: Fr.) P. Karst.
scaly tooth

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

Introduction to the Macrofungi

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #66564)

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Distribution of Sarcodon imbricatus
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Species Information

Features of this commonly reported fungus include a brown to reddish brown cap with large, coarse, truncate, darker scales, white to gray-brown teeth, a white to brown stem that widens at base, a mild to bitter taste, and microscopic characters including clamp connections. Sarcodon imbricatus is used for wool-dyeing in many countries, (Johannesson 1999). Johannesson(1) have separated the variant under pine (as opposed to spruce) by molecular and macroscopic (but not microscopic characters) as Sarcodon squamosus (Schaeff.) Quel. The habitat given by Hall is under pine, implying that Sarcodon squamosus occurs in the Pacific Northwest, but the description does not fit perfectly and more observations are needed in the Pacific Northwest. Spruce is frequently mentioned in the habitat of herbarium collections from the Pacific Northwest, implying the presence of the spruce variant. Johannesson(1) states, "The pine form has a yellow brown to vinaceous brown pileus with blackish brown scales, the margin of the pileus remains for a long time incurved, and the centre is not or only slightly depressed. When old or dried the pileus of the pine form is distinctly darker than the pileus of the spruce form. The scales are usually smaller than in the spruce form, especially near the margin of the pileus. The broad scales in the centre are not or only slightly pointed upwards. The spines are slightly decurrent, rather short and crowded, greyish and when fresh often with a tint of greyish blue. The stipe is short, usually of about the same length as the diameter of the pileus or shorter, attenuated at the base, and normally distinctly paler at the apex. The context is whitish but sometimes blackish brown in the stipe base. The smell is aromatic, spicy."..."The spruce form has a brown pileus with brown scales, the margin of the pileus does not remain incurved for a long time, and the centre is always depressed, often even infundibuliform or hollow. The pileus of the spruce form is distinctly paler and the broad scales in the centre are usually pointed almost straight upwards. The spines are not decurrent, quite long and brown. The stipe is long, normally longer than the diameter of the pileus, cylindrical or often slightly bulbous at the base, and not paler at the apex. The context is dirty whitish-brownish, not darker in the base of the stipe. The smell is somewhat disagreeable, sour". (Johannesson(1), with Latin names in italics). Var. monticola K.A. Harrison var. prov. has cap color "vinaceous-russet" to "vinaceous-tawny" (as opposed to "light ochraceous buff" to "warm buff" for var. imbricatus, using Ridgway(1) colors) (Hall). Sarcodon imbricatus reported from BC (collections at Pacific Forestry Centre include one determined by K.A. Harrison), WA (Hall, both varieties), WA, OR, CA, (Castellano), ID (Andrew Parker, pers. comm.), AK (collections at the University of Washington), NC, TN, VA, Italy, (Coker), Europe, Asia, (Breitenbach). It is probably the most common Sarcodon in North America (Arora).
5-20cm, convex to flat or centrally depressed; buff to pale brown or dull reddish brown, darker brown when old; cap surface dry, "covered with large, coarse, broad, raised or shingle-like, darker brown to nearly black scales" that are often upturned when old and sometimes wear off except in center, cap surface sometime cracking when old, and sometimes perforating through into stem interior, (Arora), up to 12cm across (fruitbody up to 12cm tall), convex when young, becoming depressed and finally the depression extending into stem, margin wavy, uneven; 'brownish gray' to 'chocolate brown' or 'negro', no bruising reaction recorded, scales 'chocolate brown' to 'negro', the flesh between the scales in all cases "light ochraceous buff" to "warm buff" ("vinaceous-russet" to "vinaceous-tawny" in var. monticola), margin 'yellowish brown'; imbricate-scaly [with shingled scales], scales up to 1.5cm x 1.2cm, irregularly truncate and upturned, (Hall), 10-20(30)cm, convex when young, to funnel-shaped when old with perforate center, irregularly round in outline from above, large erect scales more or less concentric and dark brown to black-brown with reddish gleam on lighter tomentose ground, margin lighter to whitish, the scales fleshy and thick in center, thinner and less erect toward margin, (Breitenbach), from the first conspicuously scaly and remaining so until maturity, when old or weathered becoming almost smooth except in central hollow, (Coker), dark reddish to purplish brown against paler pink flesh, (Phillips)
thick, firm but brittle; pallid to grayish, tan, or brownish, (Arora), up to 3cm thick, homogeneous, fleshy-fibrous; pallid, drying with a yellowish cast, (Hall), white, even in base of stem, (Breitenbach)
0.2-1.5cm long, "soft, brittle, often slightly decurrent"; "pale brown or grayish or pallid" becoming dark brown when old, (Arora), up to 0.7cm long, 1-2 per square mm, irregularly decurrent, fleshy, round in cross-section, subulate [awl-shaped], extendin
4-10cm x 1.5-3.5(5)cm, central or off-center, often enlarged in lower part, often hollow toward top when old; some shade of brown; "usually more or less smooth", (Arora), up to 6cm x 3cm, central to slightly off-center, not tapered, base bulbous; "cinnamon-buff" to "pinkish buff", bruising "warm sepia" or "snuff brown", base the same color, (Hall), whitish when young, then brownish, base lighter to whitish; velvety, (Breitenbach), white to purplish brown (Phillips)
Chemical Reactions:
flesh not blackening in KOH (Harrison(8))
mild or when dry somewhat smoky or chocolate-like (Arora), faint (Hall), weakly and pleasantly spicy (Breitenbach), slightly iodized, sometimes horse-like, (Lincoff(1))
mild to bitter (Arora), mild (Hall), astringent or slightly bitter (Lincoff(1)), slightly bitter (Harrison(8))
spores 6-8 x 5-7 microns, "nearly round but prominently warted (angular-nodulose or shaped like a Maltese cross)", (Arora), spores 6.3-7.5 x 5.3-6.3 microns, nearly round to elliptic, "angular-nodulose, appearing as a Maltese cross in outline, coronate", inamyloid; basidia 4-spored, 40-45 x 4-7 microns, clavate; cystidia absent; hyphae 4-14 microns wide, thin-walled, with clamp connections, (Hall), spores 6.5-8 x 5-6 microns (including tubercles), tubercles coarse, flat to concave; all septa with clamp connections, (Breitenbach), hyphae of cap flesh septate, occasionally branched and with clamp connections, (Coker)
Spore Deposit:
brown (Arora, Hall), fawn color in light deposits, buffy brown in heavy ones, (Coker)

Habitat / Range

single to gregarious on ground under conifers or hardwoods, late spring, summer, or fall, (Arora), single on ground in duff and moss, under pine, (Hall), single to clustered, often in fairy rings, (McKnight)

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Hydnum imbricatum L. ex Fr.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links


yes, but often bitter, causes indigestion in some people, (Arora)

Additional Photo Sources

Related Databases

Species References

Hall(2) (as Hydnum imbricatum with colors in single quotation marks from Kornerup(2), colors in double quotation marks from Ridgway(1)), Arora(1)* (as Hydnum imbricatum), Ammirati(1)*, Miller(14)*, Coker(1), Castellano(2)*, Breitenbach(2)*, Phillips(1)*,

References for the fungi

General References