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Old Aug 15, 2007, 10:23 pm   #1
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Name: Stan
Central, Missouri USA
Join Date: Mar 28, 2005
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Rules to Boletes

Four simple Rules for Boletes

1. Eat Only Fresh, Young Specimens

2. Avoid Boletes with Red or Orange Pore Surfaces

3. Avoid Boletes That Stain or Bruise Blue to Green

4. Avoid Orange-Capped Leccinum Species

Edibility Rules for Boletes

Source: Michael Kuo at

The boletes form a relatively safe (and decidedly tasty!) group of mushrooms, as far as edibility is concerned. However, some poisonous species exist, and a few fatalities resulting from boletes are on record. The rules below reflect what is currently known about boletes--but there is, of course, always the possibility that you may find a mushroom that is uncharacteristic or simply unknown. Always experiment with new species by eating only a bite or two the first time, and waiting 48 hours before continuing!

If you have some experience with boletes, you will notice that the rules wind up excluding some good edibles (Boletus bicolor, for example). But they will also exclude all the boletes known to be poisonous--and by the time a mushroom collector can distinguish Boletus bicolor from the poisonous Boletus miniato-olivaceus, she will be identifying mushrooms to species with enough confidence to consult edibility reports for individual mushrooms.

1. Eat Only Fresh, Young Specimens
There are two reasons for this. First, you will eliminate the possibility of simple food poisoning resulting from the consumption of rotting food (and you will avoid eating some nasty critters that tend to inhabit older specimens). Second, this will force you to consider only specimens whose macrofeatures are still easily recognizable. Pore surfaces of some boletes can eventually become brownish or blackish, regardless of the colors they manifested their prime--and bruising or staining reactions are no longer trustworthy with old mushrooms.

2. Avoid Boletes with Red or Orange Pore Surfaces
The currently documented most-poisonous boletes, like Boletus satanas, have red or orange pore surfaces, like the mushroom in the illustration (see the top arrow). Do not eat any bolete whose pore surface is red or orange, or some version of these colors.

3. Avoid Boletes That Stain or Bruise Blue to Green
Admittedly, this rule eliminates nearly half of all boletes. But it also eliminates all the boletes, besides the red- and orange-pored species, known to be poisonous, or for which edibility is suspect--particularly those in the Fraterni constellation. In the illustration, the bottom arrow indicates the flesh of a bolete turning blue on exposure to air. Also check for blue bruising by teasing the cap, stem, and (especially) the pore surface with the flat side of a knife.

4. Avoid Orange-Capped Leccinum Species
Leccinum includes some very good edibles, but the record is becoming more and more clear: some people are adversely affected by some of the orange-capped species. Marilyn Shaw has documented this in Colorado (see Bessette, 2000, 374), and some field guides will mention the possibility. I know from personal experience; I am one of the "some people" adversely affected--and I can tell you that the poisoning is not at all how you want to spend one or two days of your life!

There are many Leccinum mushrooms with orange caps. But since Leccinum species are notoriously difficult to separate, even for experts, you should avoid any orange-capped species. If you are not sure you can distinguish Leccinum species from other boletes, you should change this rule and not eat any boletes with orange or orangeish caps.

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