Hydnum rufescens Pers. - Terracotta Hedgehog

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes (insertae sedis) - Order: Cantharellales - Family: Hydnaceae

Hydnum rufescens - Terracotta Hedgehog

This mushroom grows in all kinds of woodland. Its cap colour that is perfectly described by the common name Terracotta Hedgehog. Other names given to this mushroom include Terracotta Wood Urchin and Rufous Hedgehog.


Fairly common in Britain and Ireland, Hydnum rufescens is found throughout mainland Europe. This species has also been reported from the eastern side of North America.

Hydnum rufescens - Terracotta Hedgehog in mixed woodland, Portugal

Both the Terracotta Hedgehog and its close relative the Wood Hedgehog Hydnum repandum tend to be gregarious, forming small clumps and occasionally fairy circles.

Taxonomic history

In 1801, when Christiaan Hendrick Persoon described this mushroom, he gave it the binomial name Hydnum rufescens, which still is its generally accepted scientific name.

Synonyms of Hydnum rufescens include Dentinum rufescens (Pers.) Gray, and Hydnum repandum var. rufescens (Pers.) Barla.


Hydnum, the genus name, comes from the Greek noun udnon or hudnon, a truffle. The specific epithet rufescens means becoming rufous (reddish-brown).

Identification guide

Cap of Hydnum rufescens


The cap is 2 to 6cm in diameter orange-red or pale tan, smooth and slightly felty to the touch; it is often perched eccentrically upon the stipe. The flesh is pink.


Fertile spines on the underside of a Hydnum rufescens cap


Hanging down like stalactites, soft spines cover the fertile surface beneath the cap. Unlike those of its close relative, Hydnum repandum, the pink spines of this species are adnexed or almost free rather than decurrent to the stem. When fully developed, the spines are 2 to 4mm long.


Pinkish white and solid with white flesh, stems of the Terracotta Hedgehog are 2 to 4cm tall and typically 1.5 to 3cm in diameter.

Spores of Hydnum rufescens


Ellipsoidal, smooth, 6.5-8 x 5.5-7μm.

Spore print



Odour not distinctive; taste is initially mild but turns bitter in the mouth after a few moments delay.

Habitat & Ecological role

Ectomycorrhizal with conifers and probably also with broadleaf trees; often forming rings or arcs among the moss and leaf litter of the forest floor.


August to December in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Hydnum repandum is larger and cream coloured; its spines are decurrent to the stem rather than adnexed.

Hydnum rufescens - Terracotta Hedgehog, southern England

Culinary Notes

Hydnum rufescens is a popular edible species, but it should be picked while young and free from worms and grubs. The Terracotta Hedgehog is delicious in all sorts of dishes from soups and risottos to our own favourite invention which we call 'Hedgehogs on Toast'.

Reference Sources

Pat O'Reilly (2016) ; First Nature

British Mycological Society English Names for Fungi

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 David Kelly.

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