Suillus bovinus occurs beneath pine trees, often beside forest paths, in clearings and at the edges of woods. This edible bolete often appears in large groups. When you find Bovine Boletes under pine trees, look closely and you may also find Gomphidius roseus, the Rosy Spike. This gilled member of the order Boletales forms a three-way relationship involving the Bovine Bolete and the roots of pine trees. (Boletus bovinus is mycorrhizal with pines; the Rosy Spike's role in this relationship is thought to be parasitic.)
Common throughout Britain and Ireland, Suillus bovinus also occurs in pine forested areas throughout mainland Europe. It is often found together with Gomphidius roseus, the Rosy Spike.
When Carl Linnaeus described the mushroom in 1755, he named it Boletus bovinus. In 1796 French physician and naturalist Henri François Anne de Roussel (1748 - 1812) transferred this species to the Suillus genus and so its accepted scientific name became Suillus bovinus.
The Bovine Bolete gets its common name and its specific epithet from its similarity (in colour only!) to a Jersey Cow. The generic name Suillus means of pigs (swine) and is a reference to the greasy nature of the caps of fungi in this genus.
Suillus bovinus is a gregarious bolete, often crowding togeter in tufts - a most un-bolete-like behaviour - so that caps become lopsided and distorted from pressing against one another, as in the picture above which was taken in late December under pine trees in the hills near Picota in the Algarve region of southern Portugal.
3 to 10cm across and often irregular and wavy at the margin, the caps of Suillus bovinus vary from pale yellow to deep orange, usually somewhat paler at the margin. Many specimens have clay brown caps, from which characteristic the former common name Jersey Cow Bolete derives.
When cut, the white to clay pink flesh of the cap does not change colour.
Tubes and Pores
The tubes terminate in large compound pores (divided into usually two compartments). The pores are yellow, becoming grey-green and turning darker when bruised.
Nearer to the stem the pores are progressively more elongated, and at the point of attachment the tubes are sometimes slightly decurrent to the stem.
Club-shaped in young specimens, the clay-coloured stipe of Suillus bovinus soon becomes more or less parallel sided; it is typically 6 to 10mm in diameter and 5 to 8cm tall and, unlike many members of the Suillus genus, it does not have a stem ring.
The whitish stem flesh has a pink tinge near the base of the stem.
Subfusiform, smooth, 8-10 x 3-4μm.
Olive-green or brown.
Slightly fruity odour and a faintly sweet taste.
Habitat & Ecological role
Ectoycorrhizal, usually beneath Scots Pine but also with other many other kinds of pines and sometimes with other conifers; often beside woodland paths and in small clearings rather than in deep forest shade.
August to November in Britain and Ireland; an extended season in countries further south in Europe.
Suillus granulatus has milky droplets beneath its cap and it has simple rather than compound pores.
Although not generally rated very highly, the Bovine Bolete is reported to be edible when thoroughly cooked (but then so are most parts of a Jersey Cow!).
This common mushroom could possibly be confused with some other members of the genus Suillus - Suillus grevillei, for example - but this is not a great problem because all members of the Suillus genus that occur in Britain and Ireland, at least, are reported as being edible.
Bovine Boletes could therefore be used in any recipe calling for Slippery Jack boletes (Suillus luteus), noting that to reduce the risk of a reaction to these mushrooms some people have found it advisable to discard the cap skin of all species from the Suillus genus.
This page incl;udes pictures kindly contributed by David Kelly
Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd Edition, Pat O'Reilly 2016, reprinted by Coch-y-bonddu Books in 2022.
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.
BMS List of 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.
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