This section is from the book "Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc.", by George Francis Atkinson. Also available from Amazon: Studies of American Fungi: Mushrooms, Edible, Poisonous, Etc..
This plant grows on the ground in woods, and was collected in the Blue Ridge mountains at Blowing Rock, N. C, at an elevation of about 4000 feet. It is remarkable for its peculiar odor, resembling, when fresh, that of an Ethiopian; for its tough, zonate pileus with a prominent white edge, and the stout irregular stem, resembling the stem of Hydnum velutinum. The plants are 8-12 cm. high, the cap 8-12 cm. broad, and the stem 2-4 cm. in thickness. The plants grow singly, or sometimes a few close together, and then two or more may be conjoined.
The pileus is first umbilicate or depressed, becoming depressed or infundibuliform, irregular, eccentric, the margin repand, and sometimes lobed, and lobes appearing at times on the upper surface of the cap. The surface is first tomentose or pubescent, becoming smooth, with prominent concentric zones probably marked off by periodical growth; the color is first white, so that the edge is white, becoming cream color to buff, and in age dull brown and sometimes blackish brown in the center of the old plants. The pubescence disappears from the old portions of the cap, so that it is smooth. The pubescence or tomentum is more prominent on the intermediate zones. The margin is rather thick, somewhat acute or blunt, the upper portion of the flesh is spongy and the middle portion tough and coriaceous, and darker in color. The pileus is somewhat pliant when moist or wet, and firm when dry, the dark inner stratum hard.
The spines are first white or cream color, in age changing through salmon color, or directly into grayish or grayish brown. The spines when mature are long, slender, crowded, and decurrent on the upper part of the stem. The spores are white, globose, echinulate, 3-4 The stem is stout and irregular, very closely resembling the stem of Hydnum velutinum, with a thick, spongy, outer layer and a central hard core.
The odor, which resembles that of a perspiring darkey, before the plant is dry, disappears after drying, and then the plant has the same agreeable odor presented by several different species of Hydnum. The odor suggests H. graveolens, but the characters of the stem and surface of the pileus separate it from that species, while the tough and pliant character of the cap separates it from H. fragile. Figure 199 is from plants (No. 4334, C. U. herbarium) collected at Blowing Rock, N. C, during September, 1899.