In This Article
In this article, you will learn everything about Ringless Honey Mushrooms, otherwise known as Armillaria Tabascens.
The very first time I thought I saw a Ringless Honey Mushroom was roughly eight years ago, in November, on my neighbor’s lawn.
The only problem was this mushroom species grows on wood such as stumps or decomposing roots and not mulch, so I was mistaken. I had lived in the neighborhood for 14 years, and I remembered every tree on the lawn, though maybe there was a stump there when I first moved in.
The next time I thought I saw it was a couple of hundred miles away in West Palm Beach, growing on an Eastern Cedar stump, but I was mistaken again because they usually do not grow on those stumps.
The third time was the charm – about a mile from my house growing on an oak stump in an area that had been cleared a couple of years earlier. This was a mushroom mine, so to speak – with mushrooms flourishing. When I later took a Mushroom Certification class in late August in North Carolina, they were everywhere.
Ringless Honey Mushroom Description
The ringless honey mushroom, a part of the Physalacriaceae family, is the most easily identified as Armillaria, an American specimen. This mushroom grows in clusters on hardwoods in eastern North America, from the Great Lakes southward and west to Texas and Oklahoma. It has no ring or ring zone on its stem(hence the name), and it is usually a dull, tawny brown, though yellowish collections are not uncommon.
The cap surface bears small brownish scales (at least when young), and the stem bases are fused and somewhat pointed.
As a quick description, the Ringless Honey Mushroom is Honey-colored, with a dry, scaly cap, lacking a ring on the stalk(hence the name) that grows from September to November. It grows in clusters on wood.
The cap is convex and is yellow-brown to honey brown, with reddish-brown cottony scales; texture dry, scaly. The gills are narrow and broad and are white to brownish. The spores magnified are elliptical, smooth, and colorless.
Now, Ringless Honey Mushrooms are prolific late summer and early fall mushrooms. This mushroom grows in large clusters on lawns, usually following heavy rains. It pops up quickly—seemingly overnight—and typically appears terrestrial, though it is actually growing from buried roots.
Now let’s talk a little about its ecology. The Ringless Honey Mushroom is parasitic and saprobic, usually on tree stumps, especially silver maple and oak trees. These can grow directly from roots, attached to them with white fuzz.
The mushrooms typically appear in large clusters at the trees’ bases in late summer and fall, east of the Rocky Mountains. Something you should know it when the clusters appear to be terrestrial, they are actually growing from underground wood.
The cap is 1-4 inches across at maturity; convex at first, becoming broadly convex, flat, or shallowly depressed in age, dry, and maybe covered with darker brown scales, but the scales are often concentrated near maturity the center hard to see. The cap is tanto tawny brown to cinnamon brown—or sometimes yellow to yellowish; the margin is often becoming slightly lined.
The gills run down the stem, close together, with many short-gills and a whitish with pinkish colors.
The stem is 5–8 cm long; 0.5–1 cm thick; tapering to base; bald and pale grayish to brownish near apex, darker brown and nearly hairy below; without a ring.
The flesh is Whitish to a watery tan; not changing when sliced. Finally, the odor is not distinctive, and this can taste bitter or not distinctive.
Ringless Honey Mushroom Benefits
The Ringless Honey Mushroom has many benefits. With my sources cited right below, this section show I’m not making any of this up.
The ringless honey mushroom was not originally used for medical purposes. However, it does contain α-(1→6)-D-glucan, which is known for its anti-cancer properties. Furthermore, this has also been shown to be effective against several types of bacteria known to cause disease in humans. Finally, the ringless honey mushroom is also one of several mushroom species found to have cleansing antioxidant properties.
A close relative of the ringless honey mushroom, the Armillaria mellea, has had more thorough research on it. Its potential medicinal benefits are much more known than the Armillaria tabescens (Ringless Honey Mushroom). But, even closely related mushrooms can be very different from each other biochemically.
Honey mushrooms are traditionally used in China for several complaints. An in-vitro study examined the mushroom’s chemical constituents and identified several that have antioxidant and anti-edema effects. Another similar study identified both antioxidant substances and substances capable of lowering blood sugar.
A series of tests show that an extract of honey mushroom killed both human lymphoma cells and two different kinds of human liver cancer cells. Of course, for a substance to kill cancer in a dish is no proof that it can fight cancer in a person. However, it does indicate a worthwhile lane of research.
A study involving mice who had been experimentally given a degenerative condition similar to our Alzheimer’s Disease found that an extract of this honey mushroom improved the subjects’ performance on mazes, along with reduced characteristic signs of degeneration in their brains.
Now, there are four antibiotics, and anti-fungal substances were originally isolated from honey mushroom tissue. However, whether the whole mushroom can deliver a therapeutic dose of any of the four when eaten seems unclear.
Where to Find Ringless Honey Mushrooms
Now that you know what health benefits Ringless Honey Mushrooms give you, where do you find them? Ringless Honey Mushrooms are Native to the United States’ east coast, from the Mid-Atlantic states south and west to mid-Texas and Oklahoma. You can find them in New England, like CT and MA. As a precaution, be very careful of your identification in New England.
Ringless Honey Mushrooms will fruit abundantly in an area, generally for a short time: only about a week or two. In the North, the timeframe is shorter, while in the South, it’s slightly longer. It also seems like this mushroom will send up clusters of mushrooms every day or two if there is enough rain.
They are ready to harvest around mid-fall, but what is considered mid-fall varies from location to location. In New Jersey, I found them most often in mid-September and in Texas, I found them in early November!
Ringless honey mushrooms grow exclusively on root wood. However, they can also grow in other parts of the wood. They are primarily decomposers but may also act as parasites or symbiote with living trees. Ringless Honey Mushrooms usually show up nestled at the base of a living tree, typically on top of or between tree roots or near dead tree stumps.
They should not be found growing on the raised trunk of a fallen tree. Regular honey mushrooms may grow that way, but not the ringless mushrooms. If you find what you think is ringless honey growing like this, it’s most likely another mushroom.
Ringless honey mushrooms are nearly 100% found growing in clusters of many mushrooms, which is found just below the ground. If you wiggle this cluster, you should be able to pull it up as one and view this at the fungus base. If all your items are not coming together at one point, you probably do not have ringless honey and should not eat it without proper identification.
How to Pick and Store Ringless Honey Mushrooms
Note that removing this mycelial mass may hurt the organism that grows the mushrooms, or it may not. It’s essential for identification until one is very familiar with the fungus, so it’s something you should definitely do. Once removed and confirmed, you can cut it free from the stems and nestle it back down where it was.
This may mitigate some of the effects of your removing it. If you feel strongly about not pulling the mass up, use a knife to cut through all the stems, only leaving on the cap. Directly after, check for a spores print.
You can do that by laying it face-down on a black or dark plate than putting a glass on top of the mushroom. After about half a day or so, you should check up on the mushroom and lift it. If it has a white spore print, then it is a ringless honey mushroom.
Now, wash the ringless honey mushrooms in a tub with lukewarm water. You can wash it, like you wash oysters, making a circular motion. Then, you should boil them all for at least 20 minutes. It is normal for them to shrink – a lot.
Right after that, you can put them in the freezer or continue cooking them if you want. You can now cook them like you would cook a regular mushroom – you could add salt and butter to it, mix it in with onions, or whatever you prefer.
Thank you. I hope you enjoyed this article about the Armillaria Tabescens! Be sure to get a plant verification app to ensure you are eating the Ringless Honey Mushroom!