Bear’s Head Tooth

(Hericium americanum)

Conservation Status
Bear’s Head Tooth
Photo by Lisa Kovacs
  IUCN Red List

not listed


not listed


not listed


Bear’s Head Tooth is a fairly common and widespread edible fungus. It occurs in the United States east of the Great Plains, in southern Canada, and in Central America. In the United States it is most common in the Northeast and upper Midwest. It is fairly common in eastern Minnesota. Reports of it in the west may be misidentified specimens of Hericium abietis. It is found in woodlands where it gets its nutrients from decaying wood (saprobic), and possibly from living wood (parasitic) when it first appears. It grows alone or in groups on dead hardwood logs and stumps, and on wounds of living hardwoods. It rarely grows on conifers.

When it first appears, the fruiting body is knobby and toothless. At this stage it cannot be distinguished from the two other Hericium species that also occur in Minnesota. The mature fruiting body is a 6 to 12 (15 to 30 cm) in diameter compact cluster of forked, spine-bearing branches. It is white when young, turning yellowish or brownish as it ages. The branches rise from a thick base. At the end of each branch there is a cluster of numerous, densely packed spines that hang downward like icicles. The spines can be 3 16 to 1½ (5 to 40 mm) long, but are mostly more than long. There is often also a row of spines hanging from the underside of the branch like the teeth of a comb.

The flesh is white and edible when young and still white. It does not discolor when cut.

The spore print is white.


Similar Species


Coral Tooth Fungus (Hericium coralloides) spines are short, no more than long.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is an unbranched, cushion-shaped mass of closely packed spines. The spines are ¾ to 2 long or longer. It is rare in Minnesota.

Habitat and Hosts

Forests and woodlands; hardwoods.




August through November


Distribution Map



4, 24, 26, 29, 30, 77.




Fairly common in eastern Minnesota

  Kingdom Fungi (fungi)  
  Subkingdom Dikarya  
  Division Basidiomycota (club fungi)  
  Subdivision Agaricomycotina (jelly fungi, yeasts, and mushrooms)  
  Class Agaricomycetes (mushrooms, bracket fungi, puffballs, and allies)  
  Subclass Agaricomycetidae  
  Order Russulales  
  Family Hericiaceae (tooth fungi)  
  Genus Hericium  



Bear’s Head Tooth was first described in 1984. Older texts often used the name Hericium coralloides for this species and the name Hericium laciniatum for what is now called Hericium coralloides.


Common Names


Bear’s Head Tooth

Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus












A term often used for saprotrophic fungi. Referring to fungi that obtain their nutrients from decayed organic matter.

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Lisa Kovacs

    Bear’s Head Tooth      

Jill Jacobson

    Bear’s Head Tooth      








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Other Videos
  Bear's Head Tooth - Hericium americanum

Published on Sep 19, 2017

Hericiums are easy to identify and they are edible. Always eat a very small amount in the beginning to find out whether your digestive system objects in any way. Just because a fungi is deemed "edible" does not mean some of us may have some reaction to it.

In the video I gave this particular Hericium the wrong name - and I apologise for this. Bear's Head Tooth is what you see in the video which is Hericium americanum. Western Canada and US there is lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus). There is also another edible look-a-like, Comb Tooth Fungus (Hericium coralloides).

These easy-to-identify fungi are highly beneficial to our health in many ways. For more information please check out the following links:

  Lion's Mane / Hericium Americanum Mushroom ~ Hunt, & Identify ~ Minnesota Mushrooms
Twin Cities Adventures

Published on Oct 8, 2018

lions mane mushroom,




Visitor Sightings

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  Lisa Kovacs

Location: Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Bear’s Head Tooth  
  Jill Jacobson

Location: Maplewood State Park

Bear’s Head Tooth  






Created: 9/22/2019

Last Updated:

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