Pacific Northwest Boletes – Wild Mushrooms

King Bolete - Oregon Boletes
King Bolete - Oregon Boletes
Bitter Bolete - Oregon Boletes
Slippery Jack - Oregon Boletes

The most well-known groups of wild mushrooms are boletes (Boletaceae). Edible representatives of this genus are the most delicious mushrooms that have a meaty texture, a great aroma, and delicate taste.

These fungi feature soft-fleshed caps, central stalk, and reproductive parts under the cap - pored tubes. The tube color ranges from white, yellow to red or green and may bruise to blue, green, or red. Stems are centered and can be smooth, dotted, striated or scabbed. Colors of boletus range from light brown, brown, black to pink, red or yellow.

On the Pacific Northwest, different species of Boletus mushrooms can be found in the spring, summer and the fall. If the weather conditions are favorable, these species grow up quickly and for a couple days become large and beautiful.

Most boletus is mycorrhizal fungi that mean that they build symbiotic relationships with the roots of ectomycorrhizal trees and shrubs.

  • King Bolete build the relationship with conifer trees, primarily with pine and spruce
  • Admirable bolete build symbiosis with western hemlock, fir, and red cedar
  • Aspen Bolete prefers aspen and birch.


There are roughly 300 species of boletus and just a few of them are poisonous. The good news: the result of a mistake is not life-threatening but rather can cause gastric upset and diarrhea. Some mushrooms are inedible because of their bitter or sour taste which remains after any method of cooking. There are methods allowing to identify edible and inedible boletus.

Key Identification:
•  Avoid boletus with red or orange pores and flesh that bruises blue or black
•  If you aren’t certain, avoid boletus with yellow pores and bruise blue
•  If you aren’t absolutely sure it is edible, avoid orange-capped boletus with yellow pores and bruise blue
•  Break of a small piece of mushroom, taste it (do not swallow). If it is bitter or sour, do not take it.

Attention: This technique can be used for boletus only. Absolutely, do not use it for other species of mushrooms.

Cautions: Boletes like many other mycorrhizal fungi absorb toxic heavy metals such as lead and neodymium from the soil. Avoid the polluted areas near metal mines, industrial buildings, or busy highways.

Bolete is the safest wild edible mushrooms for the novices. These mushrooms are easy to identify by their appearance and spongy-like surface underside of the cap. Bolete is a broad species of mushrooms that contain many edible species and only a few poisonous or bitter.

King Bolete aka Penny Bun, Cep, or Porcini (Excellent Edible)

King Bolete (Boletus edulis) is a highly prized on world markets and, also, the most delicious wild mushrooms. In Italian, it calls Porcini that means “little pig”. This is one of the best edible mushrooms that have a meaty texture, a great aroma, and taste. They are excellent for drying, sautéing, or frying. King Bolete is the safest wild edible mushrooms for the novices.


King Bolete | Porcini - Oregon

King Bolete | Porcini - Oregon

Cap: Large, bun-shaped becoming nearly flat when mature. Smooth surface, pale to red- or dark-brown, 3-10 inches (8-25 cm) wide.
Cap's Underside: Sponge-like, rounded pores are white when young and yellow-olive when mature, tubes are sunken around the stalk.
Spore Print: Elliptical, olive-brown.
Steam: Whitish to brownish. Thick and club-shaped, 4-10 inches (10-25 cm) long.
Flesh: Firm and solid, white.
Fruiting: Singly or in groups.
Habitat: Mycorrhizal with conifer trees: pine, western hemlock, Sitka spruce. Most likely found in the new-growth forest.
Season: Early summer to late fall.

Zeller's Bolete (Excellent Edible)

Zeller's Bolete (Xerocomellus zelleri) is a beautiful medium-sized western bolete with a colorful combination of almost black caps, yellow pores, and red-streaked stalk. The mushrooms are native to the Pacific Northwest and found in the coastal and Cascade Mountains forests under hardwoods and conifers.

Zeller's Bolete is an excellent edible mushroom with slight odor and delicious taste. Similar to Boletus Edulis, these fungi are great for drying, sautéing, frying, pickling, and freezing.

Zeller's Boletus - Wild Edible Mushroom

Zeller's Boletus - Wild Edible Mushroom

Cap: Rounded, becoming flat when mature. Often wrinkled not sticky surface, dark reddish brown to black with reddish margin, 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) wide.
Cap's Underside: Sponge-like, rounded pores, olive-yellow to dark yellow, turning to blue when bruised.
Spore Print: Elliptical, olive-brown.
Steam: Redish to yellow streaked with red, dry, white or yellowish at the base, 2-5 inches (4-12 cm) in height.
Flesh: Yellow, red when mature, sometimes staining blue when bruised.
Fruiting: Singly or in small groups.
Habitat: At edges of redwood and conifer forests on the Pacific Northwest.
Season: Fall.

Slippery Jack (Edible)

Slippery Jack (Suillus Luteus) is abundant and widely distributed throughout the state of Oregon. These mushrooms can be found on the ground under pine and spruce trees. In some countries, Slippery Jack is considered as one of low-quality mushroom, but not everywhere. These fungi are often used in Italian, Polish, and Russian cuisines to prepare gourmet meals. It is known as "maslyata" in Russian and "maslaki" in Polish that means "Butter Mushroom".

Slippery Jack mushroom is a great wild edible mushroom with a slight aroma and excellent taste. The slimy skin should be removed before cooking to avoid gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea). They are good for pickling, preserving, or sautéing. They are not used for drying because of a high water content.

Slippery Jack - Oregon Bolete

Slippery Jack - Oregon Boletes

Cap: Hemispherical to flat. Sticky when moist, yellow-brown to red-brown, 2-5 inches (5-12 cm) wide.
Cap's Underside: Sponge-like, rounded small pores. Whitish to yellow pores, darkening with age, not changing color where bruised.
Spore Print: Elliptical, brown.
Steam: Whitish to pale yellow, membranous ring, yellow to brown glandular dots above the ring, 1-5 inches (3-12 cm) long.
Flesh: White, becoming yellowish.
Fruiting: In groups.
Habitat: Coniferous forest and lawns, plentiful in pine forests.
Season: September - December.

Aspen Bolete (Edible)

Aspen Bolete - Oregon BoleteAspen Bolete (Leccinum Insigne) is a great wild edible mushroom that distinguished by having a red or orange cap and brown scales on its stalk. This fungus can be found on the ground near aspen trees, often fruiting in groups. There are other edible species of Leccinum that resemble Aspen Bolete including Red Aspen Bolete, Manzanita Bolete, and Birch Bolete.

Aspen Bolete mushrooms have an excellent texture, aroma, and taste. When cooked, it becomes darker. Due to there have been reported some negative effects including gastrointestinal upset, the species need to be cooked well. They are good for drying, pickling, freezing, frying, and sautéing.

Cap: Bun-shaped becoming nearly flat when mature. Dry surface, cap skin is overhanging, bright red to orange-brown when mature, 1.5-6 inches (4-15 cm) wide.
Cap's Underside: Sponge-like, rounded pores are whitish to grayish or olive-brown.
Spore Print: Elliptical, yellow-brown.
Steam: Tall, almost cylindrical, enlarged at based, 3-5 inches (8-15 cm) long.
Flesh: Firm and white, staining gray to black when cut.
Fruiting: Singly or a few together.
Habitat: Mycorrhizal with aspen trees.
Season: June to August.

King Bolete | Porcini - Oregon

Bitter Bolete (Inedible)

Bitter Bolete - Oregon Boletes

Bitter Bolete - Oregon Boletes

Bitter Bolete (Caloboletus calopus or Caloboletus rubripes), also known as the Red-stemmed Bitter Bolete or Scarlet-stemmed bolete is not poisonous but they have an keenly bitter taste that doesn't go away with cooking. Bitter Boletes are distinguished by partly or entirely red stalk. The cap surface is dry, smooth or with cracks. The cap color varies from tan to buff or olive-brown. The underside of the cap has a yellow spongy layer staining blue when bruised. The solid flesh is pale and staining blue when cut or bruised.

Red-stemmed Bitter Boletes can be found on the ground near conifer trees. Scarlet-stemmed boletes grow in conifer and deciduous forest.

On the Pacific Northwest, there are other bitter boletes, changing blue when damaged, including Conifer Boletus (Caloboletus conifericola) with yellow to olive-yellow stalk that enlarged and brown at the base. The cap is yellow-brown to dark-brown, cracking when mature.

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