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Top 3 Deadly Ringless Honey Mushroom Look-Alikes

While trolling for the Ringless Honey Mushroom in the woods, you may come face-to-face with the poisonous look-alikes of this safe and delicious fungi!

Generally, there are several deadly Ringless Honey Mushroom look-alikes, such as Jack-o’-Lanterns, Deadly Galerinas, and Big Laughing Gyms. Honey Mushrooms own gills that restrict running down along the stem’s length and flocking growth at the base living or on the dead tree logs.

Certain features of Ringless Honey Mushroom look-alikes can confuse even experienced foragers. So, follow the article to learn about them!

What Is Ringless Honey Mushroom? [Overview & Edibility]

Ringless Honey Mushroom (or Shoestring Mushroom) (Armillaria tabescens/ Desarmillaria tabescens) belongs to the fungal family Physalacriaceae.

The fungus is native to temperate regions of North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

It usually grows in clusters around the base of Oak, Hickory, Maple, and Pine trees or on dead tree woods buried under the soil. 

Image illustrates the growth habit of Ringless Honey Mushrooms
Ringless Honey Mushrooms grow at the base of living trees or on top of dead and decaying tree logs.

However, Ringless Honey Mushrooms are parasites and can kill their host by causing Armillaria Root Rot. 

Some of the main features of Ringless Honey Mushrooms are as follows.

CapColor: Golden or Yellow-Brown to Cinnamon-Brown

Shape: Flat, Convex to Concave & Wavy or Inward Curved Margins

Texture: Either Warty/ Scaly/ Smooth
Stem/ StipeColor: Creamy White or Brownish-White

Shape: Cylindrical & Slightly Curved/ Arched

Texture: Smooth at Above & Rougher at the Base
GillsColor: Dark Golden or Yellow-Brown to Whitish-Brown or Pinkish-Brown

Arrangement: Linear, Close & Attached to the Cap's Center & not running down the Stem's length
Spore Print ColorWhite
HabitClustering at the Base of Living or Dead Trees

Can You Eat Ringless Honey Mushroom?

Ringless Honey Mushrooms are edible with many nutritional compounds.

However, the best way to harvest and eat them is when they are firm, young, and plump. As the mushroom matures, it becomes brown and loses its tenderness.

The mushroom contains antioxidant properties, supports the immune system, prevents cancerous cell growth, controls blood sugar, and restores brain function.

People welcome Ringless Honeys in various stir-fried dishes, soups, and stews.

However, before eating it, you must wash it thoroughly. Also, eating large amounts of this mushroom can cause severe stomach upsets.

Does Ringless Honey Mushroom Have Poisonous Look-Alikes?

Ringless Honey Mushrooms have 3 poisonous look-alike imposters that you should know before foraging.

Let’s discuss the characteristics of each below.

1. Jack-o’-Lantern Mushroom 

The cap of Jack-o’-Lanterns (Omphallotus olearius) is golden-brown to yellow-brown with wavy concave or convex marginal recurving.

Also, the center of the cap is depressed and has a lighter or darker hue.

The stem is faint yellow to golden brown with light yellow or brownish-yellow closely organized gill flaps that run down along the stem, easily distinguishable from the Ringless Honey.

Jack-o’-Lanterns also show similarities with the delicious and edible Chicken of the Woods mushrooms in their growth and cap appearance. Learn the ways to distinguish them!

2. Deadly Galerina 

In Deadly Galerinas (Galerina marginata), the smooth honey-brown to yellowish-brown concave or convex cap is recurved at the edges, or it may be completely flat or bell-shaped at most.

Deep and broad gill flaps attach at the center of the cap’s base but don’t run along the coarse and brownish-white stem. Also, the stem has an annular fleshy a few inches above the center.

Image illustrates the difference between Ringless Honey Mushrooms and their look-alikes
You can differentiate the Ringless Honey Mushrooms from the deadly look-alikes from the structure/ shape of caps, gills, and stems.

3. Big Laughing Gym

The golden-brown to honey-yellow-colored coarse/ warty cap of the Big Laughing Gym mushroom (Gymnopilus junoninus/ spectabilis) is broad and flat near the edges with a bumpy center.

The margins also recurve inwards. 

The reddish-brown or pale golden-yellow gill flaps remain close in arrangement, running down the length of the creamy-yellow and thick stem. A few inches below the cap’s base, a ring is also present.

From Editorial Team


It’s very important to know the correct ways to recognize the deadly Ringless Honey Mushroom look-alikes. However, you should never eat the Ringless Honeys raw.

Moreover, it’s crucial to ensure the accurate aspects of mushroom foraging and get help from experts if you cannot distinguish the safe and deadly fungi.