Habitat and Ecology
Hericium erinaceus grows on deciduous trees, primarily on Fagus sylvatica and Quercus spp., although it can be found on Aesculus hippocastanus, Alnus glutinosa, A. incana, Carpinus betulus, Populus tremula, Tilia cordata, Betula, Fraxinus, Juglans, Malus, Ailanthus and Sorbus (Fraiture and Otto 2015). The fungus grows in well-preserved forests, on old trees with large diameter, as a necrotrophic parasite as the mycelium derives nutrients from dead or dying cells and it develops sporocarps through injuries, cracks and cuttings in autumn. The species is able to continue living and forming sporocarps for many years after the tree has died. It is regarded as an indicator of old-growth forests (Kałucka & Olariaga Ibarguren 2019).
It is a rare species in the country, registered at only 14 sites from mountain (Bistra, Jablanica, Jakupica, Karaorman, Kozuf, Ograzden, Pelister, Skopska Crna Gora), hilly (Pogana, Smrdes) to plain areas (Strumicko Pole). It has been observed in areas with warm climate, at an elevation ranging from 250 m to places with colder climate at 1,350 m a.s.l. One of the sites is in Mavrovo NP, in the zone for sustainable use.
Albeit in North Macedonia these types of forests are dominant, the number of recorded sites is low since the species generally thrives on old and large-diameter beech or oak trees and on dead wood. Nonetheless, besides the known sites, it is highly probable that the species occurs at other sites with appropriate habitat, accordingly, an estimation of probable sites has been made (Dahlberg and Mueller 2011). The probable total number of sites is guesstimated to be 3 to 5 times the current number, resulting in ca. 42–70 sites.