Edible mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of several species of fungi. Mushrooms belong to the macrofungi, because their fruiting structures are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. They can appear either below ground (hypogeous) or above ground (epigeous) where they may be picked by hand. Edibility may be defined by criteria that include absence of poisonous effects on humans and desirable taste and aroma.
Edible mushrooms are consumed by humans as comestibles for their nutritional value and they are occasionally consumed for their supposed medicinal value. Mushrooms consumed by those practicing folk medicine are known as medicinal mushrooms. While hallucinogenic mushrooms (e.g. Psilocybin mushrooms) are occasionally consumed for recreational or religious purposes, they can produce severe nausea and disorientation, and are therefore not commonly considered edible mushrooms.
Boletus edulis, commonly known as penny bun, porcino or cep, is a basidiomycete fungus, and the type species of the genus Boletus. Widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere across Europe, Asia, and North America, it does not occur naturally in the Southern Hemisphere, although it has been introduced to southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Several closely related European mushrooms formerly thought to be varieties or forms of B. edulis have been shown using molecular phylogenetic analysis to be distinct species, and others previously classed as separate species are conspecific with this species. The western North American species commonly known as the California king bolete (Boletus edulis var. grandedulis) is a large, darker-colored variant first formally identified in 2007.
The fungus grows in deciduous and coniferous forests and tree plantations, forming symbiotic ectomycorrhizal associations with living trees by enveloping the tree's underground roots with sheaths of fungal tissue. The fungus produces spore-bearing fruit bodies above ground in summer and autumn. The fruit body has a large brown cap which on occasion can reach 35 cm (14 in) in diameter and 3 kg (6.6 lb) in weight. Like other boletes, it has tubes extending downward from the underside of the cap, rather than gills; spores escape at maturity through the tube openings, or pores. The pore surface of the B. edulis fruit body is whitish when young, but ages to a greenish-yellow. The stout stipe, or stem, is white or yellowish in colour, up to 25 cm (10 in) tall and 10 cm (3.9 in) thick, and partially covered with a raised network pattern, or reticulations.