Host trees

Hosts reported for Hericium species
(a rudimentary compilation)

The Hericium species are often considered to be uncommon. Hericium erinaceus is particular is regarded to be threatened or endangered. It is legally protected as a red-listed organism in some countries such as England. Disappearance of intact old-growth forests is often blamed for their rare occurrence but a major culprit everywhere is the eagerness of humans to cut down trees inhabited by lion’s mane due to shedding large limbs and often their upper portion. This is sometimes done out of a perception that the tree is therefore dangerous but firewood harvesting is commonly involved. If wanting to encourage more Hericium fruitings in the world, aggressive removal of their host and habitat should be replaced by leaving the trees standing and respecting what falls to rot into the ground as important habitat, especially when substantial in size. The usual pattern is for fruiting to repeat itself until the wood is exhausted. People frequently think them a rarity or somehow limited to expanses of old-growth forests but when their preferred habitats (injured, dying and dead trees) are left intact they can be rather commonly encountered even inside of major urban areas.  

They are often overlooked due to fruiting best in mild but damp periods rather than excessively wet periods that can easily damage the carpophores. Fruiting on standing trees or inside of hollows and on the undersides of large fallen debris can also cause them to be missed even when they are abundantly present in the forest. This author has found that looking for suitable hosts any time of year then returning during appropriate weather is a reliable method for finding these fungi.

A listing of reported host tree species was assembled in hopes of assisting a better understanding. Hericium species are opportunistic colonizers of injuries (such as branch scars, fire scars, pruning wounds or damage from logging activity, insects or other animals) so there is no reason to think that they can’t associate with far more host species than are indicated herein. These lists were intended to be representative rather than exhaustive.  

Confused or unclear entries & discussions encountered in the literature have been omitted.  Or at least efforts have been made to identify and omit confused or unclear entries. Notes, and some questions about obvious or potential errors in herbarium records, have been added where pertinent.

A number of reported occurrences for Hericium coralloides in North America have been changed to Hericium americanum (this is noted when it occurs) and in some instances other synonyms (or questions) were also included where appropriate in hopes of preventing confusion for readers wanting to consult the references used. 

One suggestion might be for someone to look closer at the Hericium coralloides/laciniatum/ramosum collections from conifers and include those in a single molecular study with additional examples of the same taxa reported to have found occurring on hardwoods, along with herbarium specimens of H. alpestre and H. abietis. It is also suggested that workers consider intercontinental synonymities with caution pending further work.

Corrections or suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.

Hericium abietis

Hericium alpestre

Hericium americanum

Hericium bharengense

Hericium botryoides

Hericium cirrhatum

Hericium clathroides

Hericium coralloides

Hericium erinaceus

Hericium “erinaceum”

Hericium erinaceum ssp erinaceo abietis 

Hericium fimbriatum

Hericium ptychogasteroides

Hericium rajchenbergii

Hericium schestunovii

Hericium yumthangense