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Quick facts

Common name: brown roll-rim

Scientific name: Paxillus involutus

Family: Paxillaceae

Fruiting season: late summer to late autumn

Habitat: broadleaved woodland, parks and gardens

What does brown roll-rim look like?

Common and deadly poisonous, brown roll-rim fungus can look similar to edible field mushrooms but is brownish-yellow and has a rim that rolls under to protect the gills – hence its name.

Cap: a flat or funnel-shaped brown cap with the texture of fine suede when young, becoming smooth and shiny as it ages, and sticky when wet.

Gills/pores: pale brownish-yellow, bruising wine-red.

Stipe (stalk): short and cream-coloured, darker below.

Not to be confused with: many other brown-coloured mushrooms in woods, including penny bun (Boletus edulis), which is edible and has pores under its cap instead of gills.

brown roll-rim

Credit: Andy Sands / naturepl.com

Where to find brown roll-rim fungus

Brown roll-rim is a very common fungus found throughout the UK. Its main habitat is broadleaved woodlands, especially those with birch, but it is also found in parks and gardens.

Uses of brown roll-rim fungus

Brown roll-rim is deadly poisonous. People used to think it was edible if properly cooked; however, we now know that its deadly toxins work by stimulating an autoimmune reaction. This causes the body to attack its own red blood cells, often resulting in death.

Did you know?

In 1944, the distinguished German mycologist (someone who studies fungi), Julius Schaeffer, died after eating a succession of dishes containing brown roll-rim. He is thought to be the only professional mycologist to have died of fungus poisoning.