Hydnellum peckii is an inedible fungus, and a member of the genus Hydnellum of the family Bankeraceae. It is a hydnoid species, producing spores on the surface of vertical spines or tooth-like projections that hang from the undersurface of the fruit bodies. It is found in North America, Europe, and was recently discovered in Iran (2008) and Korea (2010). Hydnellum peckii is a mycorrhizal species, and forms mutually beneficial relationships with a variety of coniferous trees, growing on the ground singly, scattered, or in fused masses.
The fruit bodies typically have a funnel-shaped cap with a white edge, although the shape can be highly variable. Young, moist fruit bodies can “bleed” a bright red juice that contains a pigment known to have anticoagulant properties similar to heparin. The unusual appearance of the young fruit bodies has earned the species several descriptive common names, including strawberries and cream, the bleeding Hydnellum, the bleeding tooth fungus, the red-juice tooth, and the Devil’s tooth. Although Hydnellum peckii fruit bodies are readily identifiable when young, they become brown and nondescript when they age.
The species was first described scientifically by American mycologist Howard James Banker in 1913. Italian Pier Andrea Saccardo placed the species in the genus Hydnum in 1925, while Walter Henry Snell and Esther Amelia Dick placed it in Calodon in 1956; Hydnum peckii (Banker) Sacc. and Calodon peckii Snell & E.A. Dick are synonyms of Hydnellum peckii.
The fungus is classified in the stirps (species thought to be descendants of a common ancestor) Diabolum of the genus Hydnellum, a grouping of similar species with the following shared characteristics: flesh that is marked with concentric lines that form alternating pale and darker zones (zonate); an extremely peppery taste; a sweetish odor; spores that are ellipsoid, and not amyloid (that is, not absorbing iodine when stained with Melzer’s reagent), acyanophilous (not staining with the reagent Cotton Blue), and covered with tubercules; the presence of clamp connections in the hyphae. Molecular analysis based on the sequences of the internal transcribed spacer DNA of several Hydnellum species placed H. peckii as most closely related to H. ferrugineum and H. spongiosipes.
The specific epithet honors mycologist Charles Horton Peck. The fungus is known in the vernacular by several names, including “strawberries and cream”, the “bleeding Hydnellum”, the “red-juice tooth”, “Peck’s hydnum”, the “bleeding tooth fungus”, and the “devil’s tooth”.
"Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely."
Some heather fading into autumn, with Old Man of Storr and Needle rock fading into clouds behind.
Isle of Skye, Scotland