Sarcodon scabrosus (Fr.) P. Karst. - Bitter Tooth

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Thelephorales - Family: Bankeraceae

Sarcodon squamosus - Scaly Tooth

Distinguishing between Sarcodon scabrosus and Sarcodon squamosus (both known to occur in Britain) has taxed mycologists for years. Although macroscopically similar, molecular analysis supports the view that these fungi, which produce somewhat different colour dyes, are indeed separate species.

Sarcodon scabrosus, Portugal

The stem of Scaly Tooth is pale throughout its length, whereas Sarcodon scabrosus has a blue-grey stem base (and the cut flesh inside the stem base is also blue-grey).

Identification guide

Cap of Sarcodoc scabrosus


A brown background covered with darker brown overlapping scales (often recurved), larger near centre; convex then irregularly flattish with an undulating margin, usually developing a shallow central depression; 6 to 15cm across.

Spines on the fertile surface of a Sarcodon fruitbody


The fertile undersurface of the cap of a Sarcodon mushroom is covered with spines 4 to 10mm long, white or pale buff, turning purple-brown with age.

Just as with most boletes, the fertile layer of Sarcodon fungi can be separated easily from the rest of the cap flesh, which is said to be edible but very bitter in taste.

Stem base of Sarcodon scabrosus


Upper part white; progressively more blue-grey towards the stem base; centrally positioned; 4 to 8cm long, 1 to 3cm dia. The stem flesh is white in the upper section and blue-grey nearer to the base (see left).

Spore print



Odour not significant; taste very bitter.

Habitat & Ecological role

Mycorhizal with hardwood trees including Beech, Sweet Chestnut and oaks; also occasionally found with conifers including pines.


June to October.



Similar species

Sarcodon squamosus has a whitish base and its cap spines are more or less straight rather than recurved.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd Edition, Pat O'Reilly 2016, reprinted by Coch-y-bonddu Books in 2022.

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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