The Brown Birch Bolete, Leccinum scabrum
The Brown Birch Bolete is a common and easily identifiable edible mushroom found all over Europe and Asia. It occurs in mycorrhizal association with birch trees and fruits from June to October in the UK. The cap varies in colour from brown, to grey-brown, to red-brown, and is 5-15cm wide, starting out hemispherical, and later becoming flatter. The spongy pores on the underside of the cap are white when young, turning grey when mature. In older specimens, the pores can take on a bulbous appearance, indenting significantly at the stem. The slim stem tapers upwards and is 5-15 cm long and 1-4 cm wide, and covered with with black flakes, known as scabers. When cut open, the flesh is off white, or grey and does not change color when broken, bruised or damaged. In young specimens, the flesh is relatively firm, but it very soon becomes spongy, especially in wet weather.
We eat just the cap of this mushroom when young (as the stem is often very tough), mostly in mixed mushroom recipes such as soup, and although it is pleasant enough on it's own, it's certainly not a patch on more choice boletes, such as the Cep. When cooked, the meat turns black, and takes on a bit of a slimy appearance. If we don't use it as part of a mixed mushroom recipe, the texture of the mushroom often leads to Arthur leaving his Birch Bolete for the dog after a little nibble. She doesn't mind one way or another - being an overweight Labrador, she'll eat absolutely anything, except salad! We also dry Birch Bolete slices and grind them up for use as a flavouring in cooking.
The Orange Birch Bolete, on the other hand, is a very close relative of the Brown Birch Bolete, and is certainly more tasty, and is more of less identical, bar an orange cap.
Brown Birch Bolete Checklist
🌳 Deciduous or Mixed Woodland.
🔗 Always under Birch trees.
🌞🍂 Between June and October
📈 Grows singly, or in small clusters at the base of Birch trees.
🍄 Brown. Circular and domed 5-15 cm wide.
⚛️ No gills. This mushroom has spongy pores on the underside of the cap. They are whitish to begin with, turning grey-brown with age. They have a tendency to take on a bulbous appearance.
♊️ Brown, slim, tapering upwards. 5-15 cm long with distinctive black flakes, known as scabers.
⚪️ Off-white or grey, not changing colour when cut. Firm in young specimens, but turning spongy with age and wet weather.
Aroma / Taste
👃 Smells pleasantly mushroomy.
👅 Has a mild taste, but turns black and slimy when cooked.
🟩 ID Difficulty - Beginner
👀 The characteristic black flecks on the stem are a key identifier of this mushroom.
👀 It's lack of staining when cut is also a key identifier.
🔗 It always fruits under, or in the vicinity of Birch trees.
🍄 Fungi - Used in mushroom recipes.