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The Hallimasch (Armillaria), also called honey mushroom, is one of the best known tree fungi. It is a fungus of the family Physalacriaceae. The family includes up to 30 very similar looking species. The above-ground visible mushroom parts, also called fruiting bodies, are usually found in autumn on the trunk or root of the affected plants. They often appear in small groups. The hat of the mushroom is about four to ten centimeters wide and has the shape of a blunt cone, at a later date it can also be dented. The top of the hat has dark, wipeable scales. The stalk of Hallimaschen can be 3 to 20 inches long and a half to several inches thick.

The species name Armillaria comes from the Latin word "Armilla", which means as bracelet. This points to the cotton-like ring on the stem of the Hallimasch mushrooms. With increasing maturity of the fruiting body, the ring can also be lost. The spore powder from the hamburger is whitish. Tip: To determine the color of the spore powder, place the mushroom hat under a glass on a piece of white paper. After a few days a result is visible.

Common hakemeal (Armillaria mellea)

Common hakemeal (Armillaria mellea)

Halli ash can be easily confused with the initially similar looking Schüpplingen (Pholiota). In this type of fungus, the scales are not wipeable, the spore powder is dark and the ring zone is less pronounced than the Hallimasch.

Origin and species

At present, up to 30 different types of haymakes are known worldwide, occurring in the temperate to tropical zones. In Central Europe there are seven types of Hallimasch. Since the species are difficult to distinguish from each other, one went for a long time of only one kind.
The fungi are among the most important forest pests, as some of them also attack living trees - in the worst case it comes to the death of the affected plants. The most harmful are the honey yellow haymeat (Armillaria mellea), also called common haymeal, and the dark hogweed (Armillaria ostoyae), because these species are able to decompose wood. The honey-yellow haymaking mainly affects broadleaf trees, while the dark haylark grazes the coniferous trees. Sometimes the mushrooms also seem to grow out of the ground. This is the case when a hamburger has infested the roots below the earth's surface.

way of life

Halli ash invades living as well as dead wood. For this purpose, the parasitically living fungi extract essential nutrients from their host plants, as a result of which the affected trees often die off as a result. Halli ash is able to feed on the dead wood of the plants and survive there for many more years - this behavior is also known as saprotroph.
Unlike other mushrooms, halimaki form rhizomorphs. These are thickened filamentous cells. With the help of these, halimaki are able to easily spread to other trees in their environment and even attack healthy trees.
The fungus penetrates through already existing wounds, but also through the healthy root bark into the tree and infects him. The cambium of the trees - the tissue between the bark and the wood - is killed by the fungus. In the case of infested trees one often finds, after detachment of the bark, a flat, bright mycelium, which can light up easily in the dark.

Scheme of the Hallimsch infestation tree trunk

(1) golden yellow fruiting bodies of the fungus on the trunk, (2) mushroom braid under the cortex. The distribution networks (3) look like roots

Infested trees show wilting and poorer growth behavior. Depending on the vitality of the tree and the aggressiveness of the fungus, the symptoms are more or less severe. The fungus causes white rot in the core of the trees in some cases, which are consequently at risk of breakage.
By the way: The Hallimasch is the largest discovered fungus on earth so far. In a large-scale, enigmatic forest dying in the US (Oregon) scientists discovered a mycelium of a Hallimasch (Armillaria ostoyae) with an extension of about 880 hectares. They calculated an age of approximately 2,400 years and a weight of 600 tons.

Endangered plants

Gingerbread is not picky. They have a high host range and attack both coniferous and hardwoods alike. Often shrubs and hedges are not safe from such a fungus infestation. Even potatoes should have infested the flexible mushroom already.

Halli ash affects all types of woody plants

Halli ash affects all types of woody plants - whether deciduous or coniferous

Since the haymeal can also penetrate into dead wood, it often came in the past to considerable damage to storage spruce roundwood, which was rained to prevent the bark beetle. The existing heat and humidity were perfect conditions for infestation.
In Europe, only the silver fir (Abies alba) and the yew (Taxus) are among the few exceptions that the fungus does not attack.


Since the Hallimasch usually attacks only weakened trees, it makes sense to check the stocks regularly for diseases and pests. Minimize potential stress factors such as waterlogging, drought or pest infestation. Treat ailing trees in time and remove them if necessary. The preventive measures are the only way to prevent worse, because you can not cure an existing infestation.

Fight hamburger

If a tree is affected, it should be cleared, including the rhizome, to prevent further spread of the fungus.

Halli ash as edible mushroom

Although the Hallimasch is considered edible mushroom, you should note some things before the enjoyment: When raw, the fungus is poisonous and inedible, it can lead to enormous gastrointestinal complaints and in the worst case death. The symptoms usually appear after about an hour. If you suspect a poisoning with hamburger, you should see a doctor immediately.
But if you heat the mushroom enough, it can be consumed without hesitation. In many areas, such as Venetians, halimimas are on the menu. Remove the stubby stalk before cooking as it may still be toxic after cooking. Also before searing you should cook the meal at least 15 minutes. Do not use the cooking water in any case.

Video Board: Pilze suchen Der Tag des Hallimasch.

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