This section is from the book "Our Edible Toadstools and Mushrooms and How to Distinguish Them", by W. Hamilton Gibson. Also available from Amazon: Our Edible Toadstools And Mushrooms And How To Distinguish Them.
Another allied species, not especially famous for its esculent qualities, but which is, nevertheless, not to be despised, is here introduced on account of its especially pronounced character (Plate 23) - the cone-like Boletus, or, more properly, Strobilomyces. It is of a brownish gray color, its shaggy surface more or less studded with deep brown or black woolly points, each at the centre of a scalelike segment. The tubes beneath are covered by the veil in the younger specimens, but this at length breaks, leaving ragged fragments hanging from the rim of the pileus. The pore surface thus exposed is at first a grayish white, ultimately becoming brown. The substance of the fungus turns red when broken or cut.
This very striking mushroom is found in woods, especially under evergreens. It frequently attains a diameter of four inches. Its spores are a deep brown, and a specimen selected at the stage when the under surface is flat will yield a most beautiful spore print if laid upon white paper and protected from the atmosphere, as described in a later chapter.
Botanical characters. Strobilomyces strobilaceus
Pileus: From two to four inches in diameter, covered with a soft gray wool drawn into regular cone-like points tipped with dark brown. Flesh grayish white, turning red when bruised.
Pore surface: Grayish white in young specimen, and then usually covered with the veil; dark brown or almost black at maturity. Plate 38 shows a spore-print of this species.
Spores: Very dark brown.
Taste: Negatively pleasant.
Odor: Sweet and mild.
Habitat: Woods; singly or in small clusters.
Plate XXIII The Cone-Like Boletus
A reproduction of one of these prints is shown in Plate 38, the white reticulation representing the contact of the tube orifices with the paper, each tube depositing its dot composed of spores, the depth of color increasing in proportion to the time involved in the deposit. A single mushroom will yield a half-dozen or more prints. This fungus dries readily, and may be kept indefinitely.
In Plate 24 are shown two examples of the Boleti which have commonly been accounted poisonous - Boletus felleus and Boletus alveolatus - and, in the absence of absolutely satisfactory assurance to the contrary, it is safer from our present point of view to consider them still as suspicious and to give them a wide berth. There can be no doubt but that the popular condemnation of the Boleti has been altogether too sweeping. The gradual accession of many questionable species to the edible list of Messrs. Mcllvaine and Palmer and other daring mycophagists is a sufficient attestation of this fact. Thus subtomento-sus and cyanescens, already described, always heretofore branded as reprobates, are now redeemed from obloquy, and even the universal ill-repute of the Boletus satanas, with its pale pileus and blood-red pores, has not frightened the indefatigable Captain Mcll-vaine from a personal challenge and encounter with this lurid specimen, with the result that the formidable "Satanas" has proved anything but deserving of its name - not half so lurid as it has been painted; indeed, it has been even pronounced "the best of them all." Of course there's no telling to what extent the considerations of contrast, through surprise and the consequent demoralization on the contingents of the personal equation, may have influenced the captain's discrimination, but it certainly would appear, to put it negatively, that even the ill-favored world-renowned Boletus satanas has apparently been freed from aspersion as an enemy of mankind. But it is well for the amateur to avoid these notorious species absolutely until their edibility becomes universally accepted by the "professionals."
The Boletus felleus (Plate 24, fig. 1) is a very common species. The pinkish substance of this Boletus is so extremely bitter when raw as to make it sufficiently repellent as food. The color of its smooth cap varies from creamy yellow to reddish brown. Substance white in young specimens, flesh color or pinkish in older individuals. Tube surface white at first, becoming pinkish. Opening of tubes, angled. Stem usually more or less netted with raised lines towards cap. Spores pinkish or "flesh colored." Common in rich soil in woods.
Boletus alveolatus. - Pileus smooth and polished, usually rich crimson or maroon, sometimes varied with paler yellowish tints. Substance very solid, changing to blue on fracture or bruise. Tube sur-face deep dull crimson or maroon, this color not extending the full length of the pores, which are yellow a short distance above their mouths. The stem is quite stout and tall for the size of the cap as compared with other Boleti. It is mottled in yellow and bright red or crimson, and conspicuously meshed with a net-work of firm ridges. The spores are yellowish brown. A conspicuous and easily identified species.
A daring pioneer mycophagist. The bitter Boletus