Sulphur-Tufts (Hypholoma fasciculare)

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poison sulphur tuft

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Hypholoma fasciculare, commonly known as the sulphur tuftsulfur tuft or clustered woodlover, is a common woodland mushroom, often in evidence when hardly any other mushrooms are to be found. This saprophytic small gill fungus grows prolifically in large clumps on stumps, dead roots or rotting trunks of broadleaved trees.

The “sulphur tuft” is bitter and poisonous; consuming it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and convulsions. The principal toxin is a steroid known as fasciculol E.

Taxonomy and naming:

The specific epithet is derived from the Latin fascicularis ‘in bundles’ or ‘clustered’, referring to its habit of growing in clumps. Its name in Japanese is Nigakuritake (苦栗茸, means “Bitter kuritake“).


The hemispherical cap can reach 6 cm (​2 13 in) diameter. It is smooth and sulphur yellow with an orange-brown centre and whitish margin. The crowded gills are initially yellow but darken to a distinctive green colour as the blackish spores develop on the yellow flesh. It has a purple brown spore print. The stipe is up to 10 cm (4 in) tall and 1 cm (​13 in) wide, light yellow, orange-brown below, often with an indistinct ring zone coloured dark by the spores. The taste is very bitter, though not bitter when cooked, but still poisonous.

Distribution and habitat:

Hypholoma fasciculare grows prolifically on the dead wood of both deciduous and coniferous trees. It is more commonly found on decaying deciduous wood due to the lower lignin content of this wood relative to coniferous wood. Hypholoma fasciculare is widespread and abundant in northern Europe and North America. It has been recorded from Iran, and also eastern Anatolia in Turkey. It can appear anytime from spring to autumn.

Use in forestry:

Hypholoma fasciculare has been used successfully as an experimental treatment to competitively displace a common fungal disease of conifers, Armillaria solidipes, from managed coniferous forests.

Chemistry and toxicity:

Chemical structures of fasciculols C, E and F

Fasciculols, the toxic constituents of Hypholoma fasciculare mushrooms

The toxicity of sulfur tuft mushrooms has been attributed, at least partially, to steroid depsipeptides fasciculol E and fasciculol F (in mice, with LD50(i.p.) values of 50 mg/kg and 168 mg/kg, respectively). In humans, symptoms may be delayed for 5–10 hours after consumption, after which time there may be diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, proteinuria and collapse. Paralysis and impaired vision have been recorded. Symptoms generally resolve over a few days. The autopsy of one fatality revealed fulminant hepatitis reminiscent of amatoxin poisoning, along with involvement of kidneys and myocardium. The mushroom was consumed in a dish with other species so the death cannot be attributed to sulfur tuft with certainty.


An extract of Hypholoma fasciculare exhibits inhibitory activity on thrombin.

Edible Similar Species:

Brick Caps (Hypholoma lateritium)

Poison Control Center: