Shroom Discovery Spotlight: Suillelus queletii

Let me tell you about one of my favorite mushroom finds from last year – Suillelus queletii, also known as the Deceiving Bolete!

Location spotted: on a grass island in the middle of a road in a residential area of Epping. On the same island were lime trees (Tillia x europaea).

When: September 2022

In my experience, grassy verges and roundabout islands are excellent places to go mushroom spotting. These pockets of nature are usually overlooked, but their low profile means that any mushrooms can grow in peace without the usual risk of being kicked over.

Before I noticed the first one, all I could see were autumn leaves dotted around on the grass. Then I saw one unmistakeable velvety, russet coloured cap, which led to another and another…in fact, I was completely surrounded. Seasoned mushroom hunters will be very familiar with the phenomenon. Fungi are masters of disguise and even if they seem obvious in hindsight, you’re likely to completely oblivious to their existence and have accidentally trampled on several dozen of them before you get your shrooming eye in. Admittedly, I think it only caught my eye because this one looked a bit like a little bum.

Younger, smaller specimens had a cap that was a striking reddish-orange that was softened by its buff downy texture. The underside of the pores were a stunning red, fading to an apricot colour at the rim of the cap and the stems were bright yellow. Upon handling, the flesh bruised dark blue, creating a dramatic contrast of colours. The mushrooms felt pleasingly firm, which meant they made a satisfying drumming sound when tapped (no footage of the mushroom drumming unfortunately!)

At first glance, I guessed that it could be a Scarletina Bolete (Neoboletus praestigiator), but I took a specimen home to study further. According to Wild Food UK, the Scarletina Bolete has several lookalikes – the Lurid Bolete (Suillellus luridus), the Devil’s Bolete (Rubroboletus satanas), and the Deceiving bolete (Suillellus queletii). The biggest giveaway that it’s not the first two is that they have a red mesh pattern or reticulation on the stem, whereas the Scarletina Bolete has a red-dotted stem. The Deceiving Bolete on the other hand, has the same red-dotted pattern.

The mushroom I’d picked up certainly did have a reddish colouration on the otherwise yellow stem, but I couldn’t distinguish anything that looked particularly dotty. There’s natural variation to account for, as well as the different ways of interpreting descriptors, which is why it’s so important to use a few different identifying features. So I moved on to the next step – cutting the mushroom open!

The purpose of this fungi dissection is to see what internal structures, textures, and colours appear in the cross section. Boletes are famous for staining various degrees of blue in different areas, which can be helpful for identification purposes. I was also looking for a deep “vinaceous red” or beetroot red at the base of the stem, which would show me that it’s likely candidate for Deceiving Bolete.

Would you look at that? A textbook example of vinaceous red staining at the stem root!

During my research on this mushroom species, I also learned the following:

  • By many accounts, there is a lot of variability in the appearance of the Deceiving Bolete (perhaps that is how it earned that nickname.) According to, due to its variability and rarity, it’s likely to be misidentified. I can agree with that – many people online identified it for me as Scarletina Bolete despite the distinct red staining. You can see many photos of the Deceiving Bolete on iNaturalist, which demonstrate its variability.
  • It is an ectomycorrhizal fungus and is usually found growing beneath hardwood trees, notably oaks but also beech, limes and birches. According to a few sources, it prefers alkaline soil.
  • Wild Food UK lists this species as edible, but other sites say the taste is not distinctive or even acrid, so probably not worth the trouble. I didn’t give it a try, so I can’t confirm these tasting notes. Since it’s quite a rare find, it’s better to leave it be.
  • The epithet queletii is in honour of the famous nineteenth-century French mycologist Lucien Quélet.

Very chuffed to have found this unusual mushroom! I’ve since logged it as an observation in iNaturalist so it’s awaiting confirmation from fellow fungi enthusiasts. PS this is a very cool app – it reminds me of a real life Pokédex – and I encourage anyone who enjoys capturing photos of flora and  to check it out. 


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