Bay Bolete mushroom (Imleria badia)

While the Boletus genus of mushrooms are the best pored edibles to find locally, there are a few others in the same broader family that are worth seeking out. One example is the Bay bolete (Imleria badia), a symbiont of pine (Pinus) and similar in flavour to Boletus edulis.

Bay boletes form associations with coniferous trees, Pinus radiata in particular in South Africa, and, in summer rainfall areas, it fruits during spring and again in larger numbers during autumn, while in the Western Cape winter rainfall area it fruits from mid-autumn until mid-winter. What makes this fungus interesting is that it doesn’t always grow mycorrhizae with trees and can switch to have saprobic tendencies. That said, it’s less common to see fruiting bodies growing from logs and stumps but certainly possible.

A pair of Bay boletes (Imleria badia). © Justin Williams

The “bay ” in Bay bolete comes from the bay-brown colour of the cap, which is really somewhere between chestnut and chocolate brown. To help with spotting, this shade of brown is darker than the beds of pine needles it grows from, and the fairly small size of the cap are strong clues when first seeing one. It’ s not a big mushroom, at least compared to the other “boletes” mentioned here. Beneath the cap are lemon-yellow pores that bruise blue-grey – a feature that is especially noticeable after harvesting. The stipe of the Bay bolete is a lighter shade of brown compared to its cap. The flesh is white to pale yellow inside, smelling pleasantly nutty.

© All images copyrighted

Bay bolete (Imleria badia) © Beverley Klein