Boletus pulverulentus is found under beech, lime Sweet Chestnut and oak trees, mainly in deciduous and mixed woodland but also occasionally in parkland and even in gardens. What makes this species relatively easy to identify is the instant and intense colour change of all parts of the fruitbody if handled or cut.
In Britain this bolete is rather rare; it also occurs throughout Europe and in parts North America.
For many years in Britain this mushroom was referred to as the Blackening Bolete. In North America and latterly in Britai this edible mushroom is now referred to as the Inkstain Bolete and has this name in the BMS list of English Names of Fungi.
Boletus pulverulentus was first described in 1836 by the German mycologist Wilhelm Opatowski (1810 - 1838). Its synonyms include Xerocomus pulverulentus (Opat.) E.-J. Gilbert.
The generic name Boletus comes from the Greek bolos, meaning 'lump of clay', while the specific epithet pulverulentus means 'covered in powder' - a reference to the dry, finely velvety or slightly powdery surface of the caps and stems of young specimens.
Immature specimens are finely velvety and convex, expanding to between 4 and 10cm across and becoming smooth and broadly convex but not flattening completely. The dry cap surface is a dirty dark brown, sometimes cracking and turning reddish in and around the cracks; cap surface turning black when bruised.
The yellow cap flesh of Boletus pulverulentus turns blue-black if it is cut and exposed to air.
Tubes and Pores
Beneath the cap, yellow spore tubes terminate in large angular pores that are at first yellow (occasionally pale orange) but turn blue-black if touched. When cut or broken open, the tubes also turn blue-black.
1 to 2.5cm in diameter and 4 to 8cm tall, the stem of a Blackening Bolete is cylindrical or slightly tapering towards the base. A brilliant yellow at the apex, the stem surface is reddish brown towards the base, and like the rest of this scruffy-looking mushroom it turns blue-black wherever it is bruised in handling.
The yellow stem flesh turns rapidly blue-black when cut and exposed to air.
Subfusiform to broadly ellipsoid, smooth, 11-14 x 4.5-6µm.
Habitat & Ecological role
Boletus pulverulentus is most commonly found under beech or oak trees, but this ectomycorrhizal species is also sometimes found under other kinds of hardwoods. Less commonly the Blackening Bolete is recorded as occurring under conifers.
July to late October in Britain and Ireland.
Neoboletus luridiformis, the Scarletina Bolete, is equally sensitive to handling and its cap, pores and red-dotted stem turn dark blue when bruised; however, its pores are red rather than yellow.
You are unlikely to find enough of these often solitary boletes to justify gathering them to eat, and certainly the name Boletus pulverulentus does not appear in any of our mushroom recipe books.
Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd Edition, Pat O'Reilly 2016, reprinted by Coch-y-bonddu Books in 2022.
BMS List of English Names for Fungi
British Boletes, with keys to species, Geoffrey Kibby (self published) 3rd Edition 2012
Roy Watling & Hills, A.E. 2005. Boletes and their allies (revised and enlarged edition), - in: Henderson, D.M., Orton, P.D. & Watling, R. [eds]. British Fungus Flora. Agarics and boleti. Vol. 1. Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Galli, R. 1998. I Boleti. Atlante pratico-monographico per la determinazione dei boleti. Edinatura, Milano.
Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008
Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi.
This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding.
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