Sarcodon squamosus (Schaeff.) Quél. - Scaly Tooth

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

Sarcodon squamosus - Scaly Tooth

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

Sarcodon squamosus Culbin Forest, Scotland

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).

Sarcodon squamosus, Scotland

Identification guide

Cap of Sarcodon squamosus


A pale brown background covered with dark purple-brown overlapping scales (erect but not recurved), larger near centre; convex then irregularly flattish with an undulating margin, usually developing a shallow central depression; 6 to 18cm across.

Spines on the fertile surface of Sarcodon squamosus


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 rather bitter in taste.


White, becoming brown at maturity; centrally positioned; 4 to 8cm long, 1 to 3cm dia. The stem flesh is white throughout.

Spores of Sarcodon imbricatus


Irregularly sperical or sub-globose, 6.5-8 x 5-6µm; ornamented with prominent warts. (The image on the left is of spores from the very closely-related mainland Europe species Sarcodon imbricatus, with which British specimens of Sarcodon squamosus were confused for many years.)

Spore print



Odour not significant; taste slightly bitter.

Habitat & Ecological role

Mycorhizal with pines.


June to October.


Frequent in parts of northern Scotland; rarely seen anywhere else in Britain.

Similar species

Sarcodon scabrosus has a steely blue-grey stem base and its cap spines are often noticeably recurved.

Sarcodon squamosus, central Scotland

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

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.

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