Scientifically known as hydnellum peckii, the young bleeding tooth fungus’s thick red fluid oozes through its tiny pores, creating the appearance of blood.
The underside of the cap has tooth-like spines. As it matures, the mushroom’s pale pink centre becomes dark, almost black, in colour.
Spotted in Europe and North America’s Pacific Northwest, the bleeding tooth fungus mainly resides among moss and pine needle litter in coniferous forests.
The mushroom contains atromentin, a chemical with effective antibacterial and anticoagulant properties. The colourful pigments are also used to dye fabrics.
The bleeding tooth fungus is a mycorrhiza fungus, engaging in a symbiotic association with the roots of a vascular plant.
The fungus receives fixed carbon from the host and, in return, improves the host plant’s mineral absorption.
Despite its horrific appearance, the mushroom isn’t poisonous. We still wouldn’t recommend eating it – the taste has been described as very bitter pepper.
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