On one of my ramblings in the woods in early October I came across some mushrooms commonly called “boletes”. The boletes (more properly known as the order Boletales,) are a large group of fungi distinguished by tubular pores in the spongy lower surface of the fruiting bodies and not gills. At one time Boletales was easily separated by these simple physical characteristics but if molecular phylogenetic analysis is to be believed then Boletales now includes a disparate amount of decidedly un-bolete-like fungi such as Coniophora, a dry rot fungus once included in the Thelephoraceae, and the family Sclerodermataceae, the thick-skinned puffballs (Scleroderma).
Using dichotomous keys and a strictly morphological analysis (because, sadly, not everyone owns an electrophoresis lab) I have identified with a good measure of confidence three species of boletes I found growing in the sphagnum covered soil around the tamaracks and black spruce in my woods. They are Suillus cavipes, Suillus grevelei, and Fuscoboletinus paluster (syn. Boletinus paluster). The last one is my favorite because I have been looking for this genus for a long time so finding this Fuscoboletinus elevated my mood for several days. Some species of Fuscoboletinus are rare hence my euphoria at finally discovering one.
Suillus and Fuscoboletinus are ectomycorrhizal fungi as is the case with so many forest mushrooms. The three species shown here associate with eastern larch (Larix laricina) and black spruce (Picea mariana) and other Larix and Picea species.
My primary source for identifying these mushrooms were The Boletes of Michigan (Smith and Thiers) and the works of W. A. Murril. To learn more about boletes you should visit boletales.com which is full of information on this fascinating group of mushrooms. Also, check the “References Consulted” at the end of this post. All are available online for free.
There are other boletes in the sphagnum that I have not identified. Some I saw for the first time this year. And there is the mystery Suillus shown below which I saw once eight years ago and have never found again.
Binder, M. and Hibbett, D. S. (2006). Molecular systematics and biological diversification of Boletales. Mycologia, 98(6): 971–981.
Finlay, R. D. (1989). Functional aspects of phosphorus uptake and carbon translocation in incompatible ectomycorrhizal associations between Pinus sylvestris and Suillus grevillei and Boletinus cavipes. New Phytologist, 112. 185-192.
Kuafmann, C. H. (1914). The Fungi of North Elba. New York Slate Museum Bulletin 179, Report of the State Botanist. Published by The University of the State of New York, Albany.
Murril, W. A. (1909). The Boletaceae of North America I. Mycologia, Volume 1: 4-18.
Murril, W. A. (1909). The Boletaceae of North America II. Mycologia, Volume 1: 140-160.
Murril, W. A. (1914). The Boletes of America. Published by the author. 40 pages.
Smith, A. H. and Thiers, H. D. (1971). The Boletes of Michigan. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 428 pages.