Spines: rather unique in the mushroom world in that this species has 'spines' rather than gills, only a handful of other species have this. Usually 2-7mm long and the same colour as the cap, they break easily when you run your finger over them.
Cap: often a wavy or irregular margin, flat though sometimes with depressions or even pits. Peach coloured though can become paler when left in dry conditions. Starts quite velvety but becomes rather dry quickly.
Stem: White, though begins to discolour slightly with age or where it has been damaged. It has white down right at the base where leaf litter is often 'fused' to the bottom of the stem. Usually slightly to one side of the cap.
Flesh: White, but begins to slowly turns a dirty cream/yellow colour once cut, the taste is bitter after a few seconds and whilst it smells 'good' and 'pleasant' it has no distinctive odour.
Overall: an iconic species which once seen is hard to mis-identify with other species. It is edible and commonly sold in Europe, even some UK super markets sell this species in the autumn (imported from the continent). The robust peach caps stand out on the woodland floor and once you find one there is usually a good number nearby.
bent back, a reference to how the cap sometimes grows
from the Greek word Hudnon meaning 'Truffle'
OVERALL: The Wood Hedgehog, or Hedgehog Mushroom, is one of the more iconic and easy to recognise mushrooms of our woodlands. The robust caps, lovely peach colour and 'spines' rather than gills (hence the name hedgehog) are really rather distinctive, and once you have found one then usually there will be a group of them nearby as they can be quite prolific in the right areas. This is one of the first species that my Grandma taught me how to identify and it is one of my favourite mushrooms to find out in my local woodlands every autumn. In recent years this species has shown some tolerance to dry, warm autumns when other species have suffered.
HABITAT: Grows with both coniferous and deciduous trees, however we generally find them growing with Beech (Fagus).
DISTRIBUTION: Common over much of the UK, Scotland, Wales, the north, south-west and south-east of England are all strongholds for this species, there are much fewer records in central and eastern England, but it is still found there.
SEASON: Late summer to late autumn.
SPORE PRINT: White.
EDIBILITY: 4/5, a wonderful edible mushroom which is up there with some of the best, it is commonly sold in markets in Europe. We find it best to get rid of the 'spines' before cooking as they can get everywhere and sometimes stuck in your teeth.
EASE OF IDENTIFICATION: This is a pretty straight forward species to identify, the fact that it has 'spines' rather than gills, its pale stem and peach coloured cap should tell you this is the Wood Hedgehog. The only real look-a-like is the Terracotta Hedgehog (also edible), described below.
SMELL: Not distinctive.
SIMILAR SPECIES: The Terracotta Hedgehog (Hydnum rufescens) is a smaller less robust mushroom with much larger 'spines' for the size of the mushroom. The 'spines' of the Wood Hedgehog are generally more decurrent where as those of the Terracotta hedgehog are adnexed. The cap of the Terracotta Hedgehog is generally much darker than that of the Wood Hedgehog, and the stipe is much thinner.
OTHER NAMES: Hedgehog Mushroom, Pied de mouton
SYNOYNMS: Dentinum repandum (L.) Gray.