Boletus edulis

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Boletus edulis
B. edulisWood near Rambouillet, France
B. edulis
Wood near Rambouillet, France
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Homobasidiomycetes
Order: Boletales
Family: Boletaceae
Genus: Boletus
Species: B. edulis
Binomial name
Boletus edulis

Porcini (Boletus edulis, the taxonomic name) is a highly regarded edible mushroom. It has a number of English names, including cep (from its Catalan name cep or its French name cèpe), king bolete and penny bun. A common term in current use is porcini (from the plural of its Italian name porcino).

File:Pile of Porcini-2.jpg
A pile of dried porcini at the Borgotaro festival of the porcino.

The scientific name, Boletus, from the Latin stem bolet-, meaning "superior mushroom" and edulis, meaning edible, explains the species' culinary qualities. This mushroom has a distinct aroma reminiscent of fermented dough. It has a higher water content than other edible mushrooms.

Other names

The mushroom is known as Ontto txuri or "the blond" in Basque, hřib pravý (Czech), cep (Catalan) vargánya (Hungarian), vrganj (Croatian), borowik szlachetny (Polish), baravykas (Lithuanian), belyj grib "white mushroom" or borovik (Russian), dubák or hríb smrekový (Slovakian), jurček or jesenski goban (Slovenian), hrib or mânătarcă (Romanian), manatarka (Bulgarian), herkkutatti or "delicious bolete" (Finnish), harilik kivipuravik or "common bolete" (Estonian), Karljohan after King Charles XIV John) or stensopp (Swedish), steinsopp (Norwegian), Karl Johan or spiselig rørhat (Danish), eekhoorntjesbrood (Dutch), vrganj (Serbian), 牛肝蕈 or "beef liver mushroom" (Traditional Chinese) and Steinpilz (German). It is also known as khubz el a'a or "crow's bread" in Arabic (Syria and Lebanon). In Italian is known as "porcino".


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Boletus edulis
mycological characteristics:
pores on hymenium
Convex cap icon.svg 

cap is convex

hymenium is adnate

stipe is bare

spore print is brown

Mycorrhizal ecology icon.png 

ecology is mycorrhizal

edibility: choice

The cap of this mushroom is 7–30 cm broad at maturity, and mostly reddish-brown fading to white in areas near the margin; the color continues to darken as it matures. The stalk is 8–25 cm in height, and up to 7  cm thick—rather large in comparison to the cap. The pores, which do not stain when bruised, are white in youth, fading to yellow and then to brown with age. Fully mature specimens can weigh about 2 pounds (1 kg). However, the most appreciated by gourmets are the young small porcini, as the large ones often harbor maggots (insect larvae), and they become slimy, soft and less tasty with age.

Distribution and habitat

Logo of the PGI Fungo di Borgotaro

Boletus edulis can be found most commonly in Europe and North America. The mushroom can grow singly or in small clusters of two or three specimens. Its habitat consists of areas dominated by pine, spruce, Eastern hemlock and fir trees. Not limited to these locations, the King Bolete is also found in hardwood forests containing oaks. It fruits from summer to autumn, following sustained rainfall. This mushroom can be found during the Fall in Syria and Lebanon where it grows in large clusters on decaying oak tree stumps.

It is well known to grow in the Borgotaro area of Parma, Italy, and has PGI status there.

Boletus edulis has been reported from the vicinity of Christchurch in New Zealand, where it is likely to have been somehow introduced[1]. In South Africa it has been growing plentifully in pine forests around the country, for more than 50 years. It is not indigenous to South Africa, and is believed to have been brought here with the import of pine trees.

Culinary uses

File:Steinpilz 2006 08 3.jpg
A collection of ceps of varying ages

As the name implies, Boletus edulis is edible, and most people consider it superior in flavor and in texture. It is described as nutty and slightly meaty, with a smooth, creamy texture. Porcini are eaten and enjoyed raw, sautéed with butter, ground into pasta, in risotto, in soups, and in many other dishes. They are a feature of many cuisines, including Provençal,[2] and Viennese.[3]

They are widely exported and sold in dried form, reaching countries where they do not occur naturally, such as Australia.

Boletus edulis, along with Boletus badius and other boletes can be dried by stringing them separately on twine and hanging close to the ceiling of a kitchen. Alternatively they can be cleaned, but they should not be washed, and then placed in a wicker basket or bamboo steamer on top of a boiler or hot water tank. Once dry, they are best kept in an airtight jar. Drying them in the oven is inadvisable as it can result in them being cooked and spoiling. Considering that in the UK, boletes cost GB£2.50 for 25 grams dried, it is important to preserve them without damage.

Related species

There are many fungi belonging to the genus, most edible but some poisonous. In France, in addition to Boletus edulis (or cèpe de Bordeaux), the most popular are

  • Tête de nègre (negro’s head; Boletus aereus), much rarer than the Boletus edulis, is by far the most appreciated by gourmets, as well as the most expensive. Usually smaller than the Boletus edulis, it is also distinctively darker in colour.
  • Cèpe des pins (pine tree cep; Boletus pinophilus or Boletus pinicola) grows among pine trees. Its pores are characteristically bright yellow. It is less appreciated by gourmets than the two other kinds of porcini, but remains a mushroom ranking above most others.
  • Cèpe d'été (summer cep; Boletus aestivalis)

In parts of Colorado and New Mexico (and possibly elsewhere) there is a species Boletus barrowsii, named after its discoverer Chuck Barrows. [1] It is mycorrhizal with Ponderosa pine and hence tends to grow in areas where there is less rainfall. Some find it as good as if not better than Boletus edulis.


Further reading

  • Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America: A Field-to-kitchen Guide (1992) ISBN 0-292-72080-0

External links


  1. Stringer A; et al. (2004). "Boletus edulis Bull. Ex Fries in New Zealand". Australasian Mycological Society Newsletter. 1 (1): 6. Unknown parameter |quotes= ignored (help)
  2. Olney, Richard (1995). A Provençal Table. London: Pavilion. pp. 31–32. ISBN 1-85793-632-9.
  3. Philpot, Rosl (1965). Viennese Cookery. London: Hodder & Staughton. pp. 139–140.


bg:Обикновена манатарка ca:Cep (bolet) cs:Hřib smrkový da:Karl Johan (svamp) de:Steinpilz et:Harilik kivipuravik eu:Onddozuri it:Boletus edulis lt:Tikrinis baravykas hu:Vargánya nl:Eekhoorntjesbrood no:Steinsopp nn:Steinsopp pms:Boletus edulis sk:Hríb smrekový sl:Jesenski goban fi:Herkkutatti sv:Stensopp uk:Білий гриб wa:Magnåve bolet