Leccinum aurantiacum, is a species of fungus in the genus Leccinum. It is found in forests of Europe, North America and Asia and has a large, characteristically red-capped fruiting body. In North America, it is sometimes referred to by the common name red-capped scaber stalk. There are some uncertainties regarding the taxonomic classification of this species in Europe as well as in North America. It is considered edible.
The cap is orange-red and measures up to 8 in (20 cm) across. Its flesh is white, bruising at first burgundy, then grayish or purple-black. The underside of the cap has very small whitish pores that bruise olive-brown. The stem measures 4-7 in (10-18 cm) tall and to a ¾-1¼ in (2-3 cm) thick and can bruise blue-green. It is whitish, with short, rigid projections or scabers that turn to brown to black with age.
Leccinum aurantiacum can be found fruiting during summer and autumn in forests throughout Europe and North America. The association between fungus and host tree is mycorrhizal.
In Europe, Leccinum aurantiacum has been traditionally known to be associated with poplars (Populus). There exists some debate about the classification of L. aurantiacum and L. quercinum as separate species. According to authors who do not recognise the distinction, L. aurantiacum is also found with oak (Quercus). Additionally, L. aurantiacum has been recorded with various other deciduous trees including beech (Fagus), birch (Betula), chestnut (Castanea), willow (Salix), and Tilia. L. aurantiacum is not known to associate with conifers in Europe.
North American populations have been recorded in coniferous as well as deciduous forests, though it remains uncertain whether collections from coniferous forests are not L. vulpinum instead. In addition, L. aurantiacum may be absent altogether from North America, with collections from deciduous forests being attributed to other North American species L. insigne, and L. brunneum.
This is a favorite species for eating and can be prepared as other edible boletes. Its flesh turns very dark on cooking. Like most members of the Boletaceae, these mushrooms are popular with maggots. See reference below. Due to a number of poisonings and the difficulty identifying species, Leccinum species are considered by some as possibly not safe to eat. This species also needs to be cooked well (not parboiled) or else it may cause vomiting or other negative effects. It is commonly believed that this species can cause problems with digestion if not cooked properly. Portable kitchens and other simple solutions are therefore not recommended for cooking.
In Europe, several orange-red capped species exist, which differ mainly in habitat. L. quercinum grows with oak (Quercus) and other broad-leaved trees and bears red-brown stem scabers. In coniferous forests, L. vulpinum occurs with pine (Pinus), and L. piceinum with spruce (Picea). Not all authors recognise these as distinct species.
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