Hydnum repandum L. - Wood Hedgehog

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

Hydnum repandum, Wood Hedgehog, Wales UK

These large and fleshy fungi grow in all kinds of damp woodland. In France this prized esculent goes by the charming name of Pied de Mouton. Further evidence of the reputation of these 'tooth fungi' is hidden in the generic name Hydnum, which is derived from the Greek name for a truffle.

Distribution

Common in Britain and Ireland, Hydnum repandum occurs throughout mainland Europe and is also recorded from many parts of North America.

Hydnum repandum - Wood Hedgehog

Both the Wood Hedgehog and its close relative the Terracotta Hedgehog Hydnum rufescens tend to be gregarious, forming small clumps and occasionally fairy circles. The picture below shows Wood Hedgehogs in mixed woodland, where they have produced an almost complete fairy ring about four metres across.

Fairy Ring of Wood Hedgehog fungi, Hydnum repandum

Taxonomic history

In 1753 when Carl Linnaeus described this woodland mushroom he gave it the binomial scientific name Hydnum repandum, which was subsequently sanctioned (retained rather than being changed) by Elias Magnus Fries and remains its currently accepted scientific name.

Synonyms of Hydnum repandum include Dentinum repandum (L.) Gray.

Hydnum repandum - Wood Hedgehog, in a partial  fairy circle

Etymology

Hydnum, the genus name, comes from the Greek noun udnon or hudnon, a truffle. The specific epithet repandum is Latin and means bent back or turned up, and often part of edge of the cap of a Wood Hedgehog mushroom is indeed upturned.

Identification guide

Cap of Hydnum repandum

Cap

The cap is creamy white, with irregular undulations and pits on its upper surface, which has a fine velvety feel and tends to redden slightly when handled. The firm, crunchy flesh of this large edible fungus is slightly spicy and not dissimilar to that of the Chanterelle, Cantharellus cibarius.

Caps of the Wood Hedgehog are irregularly shaped and typically 4 to 15cm across.

Spines of Hydnum repandum

Spines

Hanging down like stalactites, soft spines cover the fertile surface of the Wood Hedgehog. The spines are 2 to 6mm long and decurrent to the stem.

Stem

White; cylindrical, 5 to 10cm tall and typically 1.5 to 3cm in diameter; solid, with white flesh.

Spores of Hydnum repandum

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 6.5-9 x 5.5-7μm.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Odour not distinctive; turns bitter in the mouth after a few moments delay.

Habitat

Ectomycorrhizal; forming rings among the moss and leaf litter of forest floors.

Season

August to December in Britain and Ireland.

Similar species

Hydnum rufescens is smaller and tan coloured; its spines are adnate to (or occasionally free of) the stem rather than decurrent.

Hydnum repandum - Wood Hedgehog, southern England

Culinary Notes

Hydnum repandum is a popular edible species, but it should be picked while young and free from worms and grubs. The Wood 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) Fascinated by Fungi; 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 and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgements

One of the pictures on this page is shown with the kind permission of David Kelly.

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