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Gomphidius glutinosus, commonly known as the slimy spike-cap, is a gilled mushroom found in Europe & North America. Although it has gills, it is a member of the order Boletales, along with the boletes. The fruiting bodies sprout in pine, fir and spruce woodland in Europe in autumn. Initially, are completely covered with a slimy veil, breaking through to reveal a greyish or brownish-capped mushroom with decurrent greyish gills which sometimes resembles a child's top. Opinions differ on the suitability of this mushroom for the table, some guides hold it in high regard, while others view it with caution.

Gomphidius glutinosus
Gomphidius glutinosus 131007.jpg
Scientific classification
G. glutinosus
Binomial name
Gomphidius glutinosus
Gomphidius glutinosus
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Mycological characteristics
gills on hymenium
cap is flat or convex
hymenium is decurrent
stipe has a ring
spore print is blackish-brown
ecology is mycorrhizal
edibility: edible



Gomphidius glutinosus was initially described by German mycologist Jacob Christian Schäffer as Agaricus glutinosus in 1774, before the father of mycology Elias Magnus Fries gave it its current genus and binomial name in 1838. The genus name is derived from the Greek 'γομφος' gomphos meaning "plug" or "large wedge-shaped nail".[1] The specific epithet glutinosus is the Latin adjective "sticky".[2]

Alternate common names in Germany are Kuhmaul "cow snout",[2] and Rotzer.[3]


young mushroom

Said to resemble a child's top, the mushroom has a dark brownish or greyish cap up to 12 cm (4.5 in) in diameter; it has a central boss and an inrolled margin, and is initially convex and later flattens and may develop blackish markings.[2] As with other members of the genus, the whole mushroom is often covered with slimy or sticky veil when young. The fungus tears free of the veil as it grows, leaving some strands and an indistinct ring.[3] The stipe is 3.5–10 cm (1.4–4 in) high and 1–2 cm wide, and is white with a greyish tint and often flushed yellow at the base. The whitish flesh may have a wine-coloured tinge and has little taste or smell. The widely spaced decurrent gills are waxy in texture, with a hairy surface from the cystidia.[3] Sometimes branched, they are initially whitish, then grey and later blackening with spores, and the spore print is brownish-black. The large spores are spindle-shaped and measure 17–20 μm long by 5.5–6 μm wide.[4]

Brownish specimens may be mistaken at a glance for Suillus luteus, but a quick look under the cap will see there are gills rather than pores.[5] Another similar-looking species is Hygrophorus hypothejus, found in similar habitat though with yellow gills which do not separate from the cap.[4][6]

Distribution and habitatEdit

Gomphidius glutinosus is found in Europe & North America where it occurs in autumn under pine and fir trees, both in natural woods and plantations, generally singularly or scattered.[5] Fruiting bodies sprout in the autumn.[4]


Like other members of the family Gomphidiaceae, Gomphidius glutinosus has been thought to be ectomycorrhizal, forming symbiotic relationship with their host trees.[7] However, there is now evidence that many (and perhaps all) species in this group are parasitic upon ectomycorrhizal boletes, in relationships that are often highly species-specific, such as Gomphidius roseus upon Suillus bovinus.[7]

Two specimens of Gomphidius glutinosus were found in Brechfa Forest on the 25th Of July 2009. The only boletus to be found in the vicinity was Suillus grevillei.

G. glutinosus is a "hyper-accumulating" fungus that absorbs and concentrates elements such as cesium more than 10,000-fold over background levels. This property can be used to decontaminate sites contaminated with radioactive cesium-137.[8]


Opinions differ on the suitability of this mushroom for the table, some guides hold it in high regard,[6] while others view it with caution.[4] Gomphidius glutinosus has a mild flavour well-suited for cooking with other mushrooms, and in soups and stews.[3] It is not suited for drying. Removing the slime and skin of the cap is recommended as soon as possible after picking. Maggots only rarely attack this species.[3]


  1. ^ Liddell HJ, Scott R (1980). Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 978-0-19-910207-5.
  2. ^ a b c Nilson S & Persson O (1977). Fungi of Northern Europe 1: Larger Fungi (Excluding Gill-Fungi). Penguin. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-14-063005-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e Zeitlmayr L (1976). Wild Mushrooms:An Illustrated Handbook. Garden City Press, Hertfordshire. pp. 93–94. ISBN 978-0-584-10324-3.
  4. ^ a b c d Roger Phillips (2006). Mushrooms. Pan MacMillan. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-330-44237-4.
  5. ^ a b Haas, Hans (1969). The Young Specialist looks at Fungi. Burke. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-222-79409-3.
  6. ^ a b Lamaison, Jean-Louis; Polese, Jean-Marie (2005). The Great Encyclopedia of Mushrooms. Könemann. p. 34. ISBN 978-3-8331-1239-3.
  7. ^ a b Olsson, Pal Axel; Münzenberger, Babette; Mahmood, Shahid; Erland, Susanne (November 2000). "Molecular and anatomical evidence for a three-way association between Pinus sylvestris and the ectomycorrhizal fungi Suillus bovinus and Gomphidius roseus". Mycological Research. 104 (11): 1372–1378. doi:10.1017/S0953756200002823.
  8. ^ Stamets, Paul (2011-04-16). "How Mushrooms Can Clean Up Radioactive Contamination - An 8 Step Plan". Permaculture - Practical Solutions for Self-reliance. Permanent Publications. Retrieved 2013-10-24.

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