For many years, mushroom hunters on the West Coast have collected a mushroom that reminds them of the king bolete (aka Porcini, Cèpe, Steinpilz), except it has a redder cap and, most important, appears in the spring, not the correct season for the king.
The mushroom, the “Spring King” (Boletus rex-veris), has become widely recognized and enjoyed as a fine edible. In 2008, the scientific community finally recognized the species with an official scientific name, translating the English name into Latin.
Spring kings can be collected in conifer forests in the mountains above 3,000 feet, in areas where the snow has melted a few weeks earlier. The texture is dense and does not stain blue, as some inedible relatives in the same habitat do.
The mushrooms have the habit of appearing from deeply in the forest litter, often not completely showing themselves and often occurring in clusters. The underground fungus that produces the mushrooms forms mycorrhizae (fungus roots) with ponderosa pine and other conifers, helping them absorb soil moisture and minerals, so they usually appear close to the bases of those trees.
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