Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea
Honey Fungus is a very common mushroom parasite in woodland, parks and gardens . It is found on a range of trees, especially birch in woods and horse chestnut and ornamental trees and shrubs in parks and gardens.
The mushrooms usually appear in mid-october sprouting in dense clumps from the base of trees and on stumps. The mushrooms have tall slender stems becoming black and velvety up to the ring and white or buff above it. the ring is often tinged yellow. The gills are white staining brown in old specimens. The cap is honey coloured from yellow through to golden brown and has dark scales in the centre.
There is a another form of the fungus that is usually found on the ground away from the host tree. This has a short chunky stem and is usually brown or tan in colour. It grows singly or in small clumps.
Only the caps of Honey Fungus are edible, the stems being tough and woody. The young closed caps are best for eating, known as chiodini or little nails by Italians, but open caps can also be used. Snap the caps off the stems, they will break where they are tender.
Most authors recommend blanching in boiling water to remove any bitterness in the mushroom before adding to your dish. They have a good crunchy texture and a rich savoury taste.