Phlebopus marginatus

Phlebopus marginatus has the largest fruiting body of any mushroom in Australia.  It is a truly spectacular mushroom.  I am including it here as it is recorded as being edible, but the sheer joy of the whole growth event may surpass any pleasure from eating it.

In Western Australia it is known as the Salmon gum bolete, and  Roger Hilton has recorded it as being edible.  The indigenous people did not eat this mushroom however, according to a report by James Drummond in the 1850s.   The pictures below, however, are from Victoria  (thanks lizza)

It grows in rings.  These might be described as circles of giants.

The actual size of an individual mushroom can be up to a metre in diameter.  This picture shows one in comparison with a block splitter that is 800 mm in length.

Whereas in Western Australia this species grows mainly in the wheat-belt which has a relatively low rainfall (300 -600 mm/a), similar mushrooms in the eastern states can grow in quite different locations where it is much wetter (+600 mm/a). Information on the distribution likely to be somewhat influenced by the fact that there are other large un-named boletes that could easily be mistaken for this species.

It is notable that specimens in the eastern states often display a blue colouration in the flesh whereas those from Western Australia do not display this feature. There has been no systematic study of the variation in this genus across the country, but it is notable that there are 5 species listed in the Queensland Mycological Society list of boletes. Given the significant difference in the rainfall patterns between the areas it occurs in Western Australia and on the east coast, it is quite possible that the species in WA is in fact different from those in the east.

My friend Jsun Lau reports finding this species in northern NSW and comments on it’s edibility. The specimens he shows however differ somewhat from those shown above.

It is unclear how it got the name Salmon Gum Bolete, but it is probably because it was thought be in mycorrhizal association with that tree, Eucalyptus salmonophloia which occurs across the range where this mushroom is normally found in Western Australia. This tree does not occur naturally in the east coast however, so the terminology is really not really appropriate to the vast majority of recorded occurrences. It is a pretty tree however and I include a picture of it here just for interest.

Eucalyptus salmonophila

Because of its size, this mushroom has always been an item of curiosity. This image, from the State Library of Western Australia, George Henry Riches collection of glass negatives ; BA2751/137, shows a young Harry Ferries sitting on what can only be one of these mushrooms, probably in the Wyalkatchem area in the central wheatbelt area around 1905.

The genus Phlebopus has a wide distribution usually described as pan-tropical. In this regard the species from Western Australia is very much an outlier. It is consumed in various countries such as China, Thailand and Reunion. Given the poor reports regarding the taste of specimens found in Australia, it seems that the species found in other countries may have a more appealing taste. Studies are somewhat hampered by the fact that the mushroom is often infested with insect larvae and it is not easy to preserve specimens.

Although this mushroom was originally assumed to be mycorrhizal, the situation is much more interesting than that. It has been grown in culture without any host tree but more interesting still is that it has been found to be in a three-way relationship with tree roots and mealybugs. This is described in a fascinating paper by Fang et al in 2020. The fungus participates in the formation of a gall on the roots of the tree which provides the mealybug with protection. The galls are lined with the mycelium of the fungus. The mealybugs have mouth parts that are able to penetrate through the mycelium layer and into the roots from which they draw sustenance. The mealybugs in turn exude ‘honeydew’ which provides food for the fungus.

This is not the only mushroom that forms such an association. The Ash bolete Boletinellus merulioides also enters into such an arrangement with an aphid. There are many mealy bugs that are associated with this type of symbiosis as well. I had not been aware of the diversity of root mealybugs until they raided my tomato plants this year. Below are some images of the ones that have invaded my tomatoes. It seems that they might be associated with some kind of fungus too as there seems to be quite a lot of white material in association with their location on the plant root. I have not established the genus of these guys yet.

Root Mealybugs

23 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Le Loup said,


  2. 2

    Richard said,

    Can you call me Re these Boletes I am very interested in getting some specimens,
    happy to pay for time and postage.

    0413 049 333

    The intent is to try and propogate it and get a good australian product going.

  3. 3

    Hi, We would love to contact you as we are beginning to find lots in our preschool. we have been taking photos and recording where we find them with children, and have even been on walking excursions to seek out unusual fungi! We are located on the mid north coast, 20 mins south of port macquarie.

  4. 4

    Roberto Flores said,

    Please, could you send me the original description of the species because in Guatemala we have found a very similar one but as huge as yours! however the fruitbodies come out in the same amount! it’s fabulous to see that!
    Thanks a lot!

    • 5

      morrie2 said,

      Hi Roberto,

      I am fascinated to hear that you have a similar one in Guatemala. I am sorry but I don’t have an original description of the species. How much information to you require? I see that you have one giant mushroom there, Macrocybe titans, but that is a gilled fungus. Phlebopus is a bolete, so it has pores, not gills.

  5. 6

    Kris said,

    Yesterday I found a field with large salmon gum bolete . I took some photos and picked a couple. I cleaned and prepared one, removed the stem and spores. I cut the cap into 5 ml slices and fried them in butter. They crisped nicely and retained an interesting soft texture. The flavour was subtle and delicious ! Today I might try them with some sage and a little Pinot Gris! Anyway, I had no ill side effects and I’m still here! Kris Fun Guy.

  6. 8

    Richard Clark said,

    Hi Kris or Andrew,
    Would you mind emailing me so that we can organise to get some to me so I can try and propogate it? Happy to pay postage and a bit of time to be fair.

    My phone number is same as above.


    • 9

      morrie2 said,

      Hello Richard,

      I thought that I had replied to you before, but I see that I didn’t. My apologies.

      Because it is a bolete, cultivation of this fungus would require innoculation of a host tree. You cannot simply clone it and grow in on a substrate like you would with some other fungi.

      Cultivation of boletes like this is at best difficult and is generally considered to not be a commercial possibility.



  7. 10

    Richard Clark said,

    I have bought some oak trees, I guess its whether someone is willing to try at the picking end. Even just send me a print, leave some paper out during the day but a mushroom would be better or the pores scraped off from underneath.

    I am about to buy some Pines to try and innoculate as well.

    • 11

      morrie2 said,

      I am afraid that oaks are unlikely to be suitable host trees, Richard, nor pines. As the name suggests, these mushrooms are associated with Salmon Gums. They are likely to be associated with other Eucalypts too as they occur all over Australia. But not in northern hemisphere deciduous woodlands.

      The simplest strategy would probably be to plant suitable host tree seedlings in the area where they grow.

      If bolete cultivation was simple and economical, we might expect to see more plantings of trees to grow Boletus edulis, but I am not aware of any such plantations.

      Perhaps someone can supply you with a spore print, but I don’t have access to these fungi and they are fleeting, like all fungi.

      • 12

        Speedy said,

        It would be worth having a go at inoculating Eucalypts with the spores.

        Don’t be put off by what people or books etc say about not being able to grow mycorrhizal fungi.

        It’s only by trying that you’ll really find out.
        …won’t be reliable enough to try as a business proposition for growing them which is one of the reasons why you dont see big forests planted just for mushrooms.

        But I’ve seen and heard of examples of where they have been grown successfully.
        Truffles are a good example of a more widely ‘cultivated’ mycorrhizal fungi.

        The financial rewards for a ‘success’ there are a big enough carrot for people to have put in the research and effort to get the results that they now achieve.

        So…..plant a forest of pines , oaks , birches inoculated with
        Boletus edulis, B.aestivalis, B.aereus , Amanita caesaera, chanterelles, milk caps, Leccinum spp. etc.

        …and look forward to going mushroom hunting with your kids, or maybe your grandkids.

        It’ll be worth the wait, and what a sense of satisfaction when you get your first harvest.

      • 13

        morrie2 said,

        Sure. Neale Bougher describes innoculating Eucalypts with mycorrhizal fungi somewhere on the net.

        This fungus is not exclusively Australian however. It grows in surrounding countries.

        It sure creates a lot of interest!

      • 14

        morrie2 said,

        Seems that I am wrong about this. Phlebopus is not necessarily associated with a host plant and it can be cultivated as a saprobe. This is done in Southern China.

  8. 15

    Speedy said,

    Very impressive pics.

    My brother found one of these many years ago growing in
    the Victorian Mallee, while out on the motorbike.

    At first he thought it was a horse saddle that someone had lost.

    On closer inspection it turned out to be a giant bolete that had grown and pushed up a thin tree root which distorted it into into the shape of a saddle.

    With the same colour and texture of leather, what else could it have been?

  9. 17

    MrSpikie said,

    We call the Slippery Jacks here in Victoria, and they are very edible. Great aroma after dried out and stored away, ready for that next mushroom risotto.

    • 18

      morrie2 said,

      If you called them Slippery Jacks, then you would be quite mistaken. For someone in the food business, I find such a mistake rather startling to be honest. You can read about Slippery Jacks here.


      • 19

        MrSpikie said,

        Yes, thank you, I do stand corrected, and also later found the further post of Slippery Jack and realized my error. We do not sell mushrooms, nor do we cook products past the humble supermarket buttons, nor do we intend to. I am a novice to wild mushroom pickings and can only strengthen my knowledge from more wiser persons such as yourself, thank you.

  10. 20

    I have a large quantity of these mushrooms currently growing in Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest under a variety of different tree species and also in grassland. They don’t only grow under Salmon Gums. They appear to prefer dark conditions and grow after heavy rain.

    • 21

      morrie2 said,

      Hi Erika,

      Thanks for your comments. It is very interesting to hear that you have a lot of them growing. They are certainly not restricted to Salmon Gums; that is just an observation that has been made in Western Australia. The ones illustrated are from Victoria. Is there any chance that you could take a spore print of one?



  11. 22

    jsunlau said,

    Phelbopus are coming up on the East Coast, I tried some while young and firm, they have a nutty flavour and good texture. The mature caps I tried just cooked to mush and the flavour was lost.

  12. 23

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