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Suillus variegatus (Velvet Bolete)

The genus Suillus

The genus Suillus belongs to the order Boletales, has distinctive features that are shared by many of the different Suillus species. These middle-sized fungi have a firm, cylindrical stem that often has a ring resulting from the remains from the partial vail (the membrane that protects the spore producing pores under the cap as the mushroom develops). The caps of most species are slimy or slippery, especially after rain, and have pore like structures on the underside which range in colour from yellow, light orange to olive green or even grey shades. The spore colour of this genus is usually cinnamon brown to chocolate brown. The name ‘Suillus’ comes from the Latin noun sus meaning pig. Hence, Suillus means ‘of pigs’ and refers to its greasy cap which is shared by the different Suillus species.

Suillus variegatus

Suillus variegatus stands out amongst most other Suillus species (except see S. cavipes) due to its un-typical cap cuticle/surface which is almost always dry and felty, and covered in fine scales. Even during wetter periods, the cap is only slightly sticky rather than slippery. As well as being found in conifer woodland it can also be a common species above the tree-line where it is associated with dwarf shrubs such as Arctostaphylos (Bearberry).

The cap is 6-15 cm in diameter and has an inrolled margin when younger, but this expands quickly. The pores are very small and olive-brown in colour and stain blue once bruised. The stem is 7-10 cm long and 1.5-2.5 cm thick being slightly paler in colour than the cap. The flesh is yellow to pale orange and turns blue when cut. It commonly smells strong metallic which together with it unpleasant taste suggest it to be inedible. 


Suillus variegatus can be found from late summer to autumn.


Associated with conifers and bearberry alpine heath. 


It is a very common species throughout Scotland 

Similar species

The other species of Suillus are relatively easy to differentiate from S. variegatus. See their profiles in the Fungus of the Month index page.

There are two other main groups of fungi that have a central stem and pores instead of gills:

Boletus species have dry caps and normally a network pattern on stem e.g. Cep.

Leccinum species have stems that are covered in small scales of varying colours, dry caps and associated with broadleaf trees e.g. Orange Birch Bolete.

Please remember to submit your records to your local recording group or via the Scottish Fungi online recording form.

By Peggy Ehrlich and Dave Genney
September 2016

Suillus variegatus
Suillus variegatus
Suillus variegatus photos by D. Genney

Suillus variegatus distribution map 

The National Biodiversity Network Gateway records from FRDBI andHBRG  datasets are shown on the above map but note that more recent records may be available via the Gateway (see terms and conditions at http://data.nbn.org.uk). Data providers and the NBN Trust bear no responsibility for any further analysis or interpretation of the information in the map.
Note also that additional records may be available on the Association of British Fungus Groups CATE2 database, but these are not available via the NBN Gateway.