Orange spruce bolete | Leccinum piceinum

by gone71 N

swe.: Aspsopp | nor.: Ospeskrubb | fin.: Haavanpunikkitatti | dt.: Espenrotkappe, Weißstielige Rotkappe, Pappelrotkappe

Orange boletes were anchored in the minds of several generations by the children’s book author Otfried Preussler (The Robber Hotzenplotz) as a particularly tasty dish. A good choice in our opinion!

The orange spruce bolete also known as spruce scaber stalk is one member of the orange boletes and a close relative to the more common orange birch bolete.

In general, this mushroom is rather rare and not as common as other representatives of the orange boletes.

height: 6 – 20 cm
cap diameter: 4 – 18 cm
trunk diameter: 1 – 4 cm
months: June – October
colours: orange cap | white trunk (black scales)
cap: brown-red, orange-brown, cap-skin protruding at the edge
habitat: spruce, bilberry
smell: mild, pleasant
consumption: cooked

Appearance & habitat of the orange spruce bolete

The orange spruce bolete is a close relative to the brown birch bolete featuring a striking orange-red cap. There are several different species of orange boletes in the Leccinum family like the very common orange birch bolete (Leccinum versipelle) and the foxy bolete (Leccinum vulpinum). Orange boletes are considered much tastier than their brown relatives.

It can be easily recognized by the orange cap, the white stalk with black scales and the grey-yellowish pores. As the name suggests it  is found in the company of spruce trees but forms also a symbiosis with billberries. Like all red caps, it is an excellent edible mushroom when properly cooked.

Older specimens can have a cap diameter up to 20 cm, in rare cases even more. Like with all orange boletes, the white, firm flesh of young mushrooms becomes softer with age, which means that large specimens are usually no longer suitable for consumption.

Discoloring and toxicity

After cutting the flesh turns reddish or gray-violet. The mushroom turns black upon cooking. Like all members of the Leccinum family it is considered slightly toxic if consumed raw so proper cooking (15 minutes plus) is required. However, they make for a tasty meal. Like all orange boletes they are very mild in taste and can be used along with other mushrooms like chantarelles in sauces, soups or fried.

Types of orange boletes

  • Oak bolete (Leccinum quercinum): stalk scales reddish, reddish brown, flesh: white, turning pink-grey-violet when cut. (Oaks, rarely beeches and other deciduous trees). In appearance very similar to the Red-capped scaber stalk and often described as the same species.
  • Red-capped scaber stalk (Leccinum aurantiacum): scales on stalks orange-brown, flesh: white, turning grey-purple to grey-black when cut. (aspens, poplars)
  • Orange spruce bolete (Leccinum piceinum): stalk scales black | Flesh: White, turning bluish-purple when cut. (spruce, blueberries)
  • Foxy bolete (Leccinum vulpinum): stalk scales reddish brown, flesh: turning pink to brown when cut. (pines, pines)
  • Orange birch bolete (Leccinum versipelle): scales on stalk are grey or black | white flesh turning black when cut. probably the most common orange bolete, especially in Scandinavia.
Spruce scaber stalk (Leccinum piceinum) | photo © www.gone71.com
Foxy bolete (Leccinum vulpinum) | photo © www.gone71.com
Red-capped scaber stalk (Leccinum aurantiacum)) | photo © www.gone71.com
Orange birch bolete (Leccinum versipelle) | photo © www.gone71.com

The different types of orange boletes are considered equal in taste. Depending on where you live in the world, one or the other species might be dominant.

As the name suggests, these are species whose symbiotic partnerships are attributed to different trees and plants. Visually, the species differ quite a bit from each other and individual specimens are best identified by the color of the scales and the overall appearance.

Lookalikes

Orange spruce boletes are easily identifiable fungi that are most likely to be confused with other orange boletes (edible) or scabber stalks such as the common birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum) or the orange birch bolete (Leccinum versipelle).

Orange birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum) | photo © www.gone71.com
Birch bolete (Leccinum versipelle) | photo © www.gone71.com

Orange boletes in the kitchen

Their firm consistency and mild flavor make them an excellent mushroom to use in the kitchen. We love them fried, but their firm flesh is also great in soups or sauces.

All orange boletes are excellent edible mushrooms. For recipes and further information on kitchen use and cleaning see the recipe section @ Orange birch bolete | Leccinum versipelle

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If you are cooking orange boletes for the first time, don’t be alarmed if the fresh mushrooms in the pot or pan suddenly turn dark – some orange boletes turn very dark or even black while cooking. However, this does not affect the taste.

Like all mushrooms from the genus Leccinum they are not suitable for consumption raw and are slightly poisonous. Many mushroom books give a minimum cooking time of 15 minutes.

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We have compiled this overview with the best of knowledge and belief, but do not claim to be complete and reserve the right to make errors.
Learn more about poisonous mushrooms and mushroom poisons here

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