Honey mushroom

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Honey mushroom
Honey yellow honey fungus (Armillaria mellea s. Str.)

Honey yellow honey fungus
( Armillaria mellea  s. Str.)

Subdivision : Agaricomycotina
Class : Agaricomycetes
Subclass : Agaricomycetidae
Order : Mushroom-like (Agaricales)
Family : Physalacriaceae
Genre : Honey mushroom
Scientific name
( Fr. ) Perennial

The honey mushrooms or honey mushrooms ( Armillaria ) are a genus of fungi from the Physalacriaceae family with several species or small species that are difficult to distinguish. One speaks here of an aggregate, the Hallimasch complex. Many species have a wady ring on the stem ( annulus , see species name: Latin armilla = bracelet), but this can be lost as the fruiting body matures due to the weather and snail damage. Some species also attack living trees, causing them to die and are therefore considered forest pests .

The type species is the honey yellow honey fungus ( Armillaria mellea ).


The brownish to honey-yellow hat is covered with dark, tufted and hairy scales, which decrease in number towards the edge, and with age they can be completely absent. The hat remains rolled up on the edge for a long time during growth. The two bright beetles Cychramus luteus and C. variegatus like to stay in this protected cavity . These cause brownish spots on the slats . Later on, the hat flattens and can sometimes take a depressed shape with age. The lamellas are close and run down a little on the handle. They are white to reddish yellow in color. The spores are colorless, which is why the tops of the hats of deep-seated specimens are dusted white by the abundant spore powder and can appear moldy. The stem, which is up to 20 centimeters long, is often curved due to its tufted protrusion. It is yellowish-brown in color and becomes darker towards the bottom. Below the cuff (annulus) the stalk is often covered with flaky scales. Except for the honey yellow honey mushroom, the base of the stem is initially clearly thickened. The flesh of the hat, and at the beginning also inside the handle, is tender, the handle later, soon after the hats are completely exposed, tough and fibrous. A clear distinguishing feature of the honey mushroom is the scratchy sensation in the throat, which begins after about a minute with a chewing test.

Generic delimitation

The white spore powder makes it easy to distinguish the honey mushrooms from the similar looking Schüpplingen ( Pholiota ), which have brown spore powder.


The white fan mycelium of a Hallimasch destroys the cambium under the bark.
Rhizomorphs of a honey fungus
White rot and mycelium in an infected trunk

With their black-brown barked rhizomorphs and white fan mycelia, the honey fungus infects both living and dead wood. Inside, they cause white rot . First, the parasitic fungi remove so many nutrients from the host plants that they quickly die. After that, the fungi can continue to feed saprotrophically on dead wood for many years .

In contrast to most other mushrooms, honey mushrooms form rhizomorphs that can grow up to three meters a year. With the help of these shoelace- like hyphae bundles , they attack even healthy trees within their reach and thereby spread strongly. Some honey mushrooms are among the most dangerous forest pests because they are very flexible in their choice of hosts. You can colonize the vast majority of woody plants (hardwood and coniferous wood, all kinds of tropical plantation trees up to oil palms, even vines, blackberries and even potatoes). In Europe only silver fir and yew are among the few exceptions that are not infested. For example, trees that have been damaged by drought or bark beetles are often preferred.

The plants of two myko-heterotrophic, i.e. leaf-greenless orchid genera in Asia and Australia ( Galeola , Gastrodia ) are considered epiparasites on honey fungus, which means that they can supply nutrients which they in turn have withdrawn from their host plants.


The hallima species are found in temperate to tropical zones worldwide. Their fruiting bodies can be found here from September to December on living or dead hardwood or coniferous wood, sometimes apparently on bare ground because they sprout from infested roots running below the surface.


Of the currently over 30 known species, 5 are found in Europe.

Honey mushrooms ( Armillaria ) in Europe
German name Scientific name Author quote
Northern honey fungus Armillaria borealis Marxm. & Korhonen 1982
Onion-footed honey mushroom Armillaria cepistipes Velen. 1920, 'cepaestipes'
False onion-foot honey mushroom Armillaria cepistipes f. pseudobulbosa Romagn. & Marxm. 1983
Flesh-colored honey mushroom Armillaria gallica Marxm. & Romagn. 1987
Honey yellow honey mushroom Armillaria mellea ( Vahl 1790: Fr. 1821) P. Kummer 1871
Dark honey mushroom Armillaria ostoyae ( Romagn.  1970) Herink  1973 nom. cons.

Former Hallimasch species

Some species that were previously assigned to the genus Armillaria have now been separated into a separate genus Desarmillaria . Their species have no ring (annulus, armilla) on the stem.

German name Scientific name Author quote
Bog honey fungus Desarmillaria ectypa ( Fr.  1821) Attorney Koch  & Aime  2017
Ringless honey mushroom Desarmillaria tabescens ( Scop.  1772) RA Koch & Aime 2017



“A remarkably unclear name for a mushroom,” writes the Duden newsletter. On the origin of the German name there is conflicting information: Once he is because of his allegedly curative in effect piles of healing in the ass come. Another etymological interpretation derives it from hal (smooth, slippery) in the ass , since the Halli meat in the raw or insufficiently cooked state has a strong laxative effect, it is also assumed an onomatopoeic derivation from the reverb caused by flatulence .

Food value

A bucket full of collected honey mushrooms

Honey mushrooms are generally known as edible mushrooms . In many areas, for example the northeastern Italian Veneto , in the areas of the former Czechoslovakia and the USSR , they are very popular edible mushrooms, which are collected and marketed in hundreds of thousands. After the hats have been shown up, the then tough handle is usually removed.

The mushrooms are indigestible and nausea when raw, so they must be sufficiently cooked before consumption (at least eight minutes). Occasionally, despite correct preparation, intolerance reactions can occur, as with many other foods. The information on the food value applies to all species.


A special feature of the honey mesh is the ability of its mycelia to produce bioluminescence , which means that the fungus mycelium and, in particular, wood that has recently been overgrown by the mycelium can produce a cold glow through chemical processes - in total darkness with the naked eye -: Luminous wood . The reason for this is - similar to the fireflies ( fireflies ) - the reaction of luciferin with the enzyme luciferase with the help of oxygen , which emits light.

Growth, age and size of honey mushrooms

In 2000, due to an initially puzzling forest dieback in the Malheur National Forest (Oregon, USA), a huge mycelium of the honey fungus Armillaria ostoyae (dark honey fungus) was discovered. It extends over an area of ​​around nine square kilometers (900 hectares), making it the largest known creature in the world in terms of area. Its age is estimated to be 2,400 years and its weight to be around 600 tons. The largest Hallima clone in Europe - also A. ostoyae  - was discovered in 2004 in Switzerland near the Ofen Pass . It is 500 to 800 meters in diameter, covers an area of ​​35 hectares and is around 1000 years old.


  • Heinz Butin : Diseases of the forest and park trees. Diagnosis, biology, control. 2 spore boards . 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Thieme, Stuttgart and New York 1996, ISBN 3-13-639003-2
  • Schwarze / Engels / Matteck: "Holzzersetzende Pilze in Trees", 1st edition 1999, Rombach Verlag, ISBN 3-7930-9194-5 , pp. 158-164
  • Helga Marxmüller, Ottmar Holdenrieder: Morphology and population structure of the ringed species of Armillaria mellea  sl In: Mycologia Bavarica 4. 2000. Pages 9–32.
  • Dagmar Nierhaus-Wunderwald: The Hallimasch species. In: Leaflet for practice 21. Federal Research Institute for Forests, Snow and Landscape (WSL), Birmensdorf (Switzerland), 1994.

Individual evidence

  1. Andrew W. Wilson, Dennis E. Desjardin: Phylogenetic relationships in the gymnopoid and marasmioid fungi (Basidiomycetes, euagarics clade) . In: Mycologia 97 (3). 2005. The Mycological Society of America. Pages 667-679. doi : 10.3852 / mycologia.97.3.667 . (PDF; 206 kB)
  2. ^ Andreas Kunze, (Frank Köhler): Hallimasch beetle . In: Discussion forum on Fungiworld.com . September 12, 2006. Retrieved June 24, 2011
  3. a b c Ettore Bielli: Mushrooms. A comprehensive guide to identifying and collecting mushrooms . Ital. Original title: Funghi . Kaiser Verlag, Klagenfurt. 2002. p. 76. ISBN 3-7043-2179-6
  4. a b Ewald Gerhardt: BLV determination book mushrooms . Weltbild Verlag, Augsburg. 2003. p. 108. ISBN 3-8289-1673-2
  5. M. Bidartondo: The evolutionary ecology of myco-hetero trophy . In: New Phytologist 167. 2005. pp. 335-352
  6. Thomas J. Volk, Harold H. Burdsall, Jr .: Species accepted in Armillaria. In: A Nomenclatural Study of Armillaria and Armillariella species (Basidiomycotina, Tricholomataceae). Synopsis Fungorum 8. Fungiflora, Oslo (Norway). 1995. ISBN 8290724144
  7. ^ Scott A. Redhead, Jean Bérubé, Michelle R. Cleary, Ottmar Holdenrieder, Richard S. Hunt, Kari Korhonen, Helga Marxmüller, Duncan J. Morrison: (2033) Proposal to conserve Armillariella ostoyae (Armillaria ostoyae) against Agaricus obscurus, Agaricus occultans, and Armillaria solidipes (Basidiomycota) . In: International Association for Plant Taxonomy (Ed.): Taxon . tape 60 , no. 6 , December 2011, p. 1770-1771 .
  8. Tom W. May: Report of the Nomenclature Committee for Fungi - 201 . In: IMA Fungus . tape 8 , no. 1 , June 1, 2017, p. 189–203 , doi : 10.5598 / imafungus.2017.08.01.12 , PMID 28824847 .
  9. Rachel A. Koch, Andrew W. Wilson, Olivier Séné, Terry W. Henkel, M. Catherine Aime: Resolved phylogeny and biogeography of the root pathogen Armillaria and its gasteroid relative, Guyanagaster . In: BMC Evolutionary Biology . tape 17 , no. 33 , January 25, 2017, p. 1-16 , doi : 10.1186 / s12862-017-0877-3 .
  10. a b Duden Newsletter of October 14, 2011
  11. Duden . 7th edition. 1963. page 245
  12. ^ Friedrich Kluge : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 22nd edition. 1989. page 289. ISBN 3-11-006800-1
  13. ^ Andreas Gminder : Manual for mushroom collectors. Identify 340 species of Central Europe with certainty . Kosmos, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-440-11472-8 . Page 120
  14. Atlant Bieri: Why the Hallimasch glows in the dark. DerBund.ch/Newsnetz, August 7, 2011, accessed on August 7, 2011 .
  15. Craig L. Schmitt, Michael L. Tatum: The Malheur National Forest. Location of the World's Largest Living Organism. The humongous fungus . United States Department of Agriculture. 2008. (PDF; 1.14 MB)
  16. Biggest mushroom in Switzerland discovered . On: Neue Zürcher Zeitung Online . September 24, 2004. Retrieved February 21, 2019

Web links

Commons : Hallimasche ( Armillaria )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files