Bearded tooth

Hericium erinaceus


Ресест игличар



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Not evaluated Data deficient Least concern Near threatened Vulnerable ENDANGERED Critically endangered Extinct in the wild Extinct
Assessment info
Habitat and Ecology
Use and Trade
Conservation Actions


Scientific name

Hericium erinaceus


(Bulliard) Persoon


Hydnum erinaceus Bull.

Assessment info

IUCN Red List Category and Criteria

EN – Endangered C2a(i)

Date assessed

November 2020


Tofilovska, S.


Kost, G.


Karadelev, M.

Rusevska, K.


Miskovic, M.


The estimated number of mature individuals is ca. 200–300 based on the probable total number of sites in the country (ca. 42–70), the estimated number of functional individuals at each locality (estimated to be two), and the template of how many mature individuals each reproducing genotype may give rise to (template used two). A continuous population decline during the last 35 years (two generations) has been assessed.

The decline is ongoing and suspected to continue in the future based on estimation of the decreasing habitat, fragmentation and the lessening of habitat quality.


Current population trend



The low number of recorded sites (14), with only one mature individual observed per site, validates the low frequency and the small population size.

This species grows in broadleaf forests, beech and oak, on dead or living wood, and the population size directly depends on the appropriate substrate. According to the instructions for estimation of mature individuals provided by Dahlberg and Mueller (2011), an estimate can be made of ca. 200–300 based on the probable total number of sites in the country (ca. 42–70), the estimated number of functional individuals at each locality (estimated to be two) and based on the template of how many mature individuals each reproducing genotype may give rise to (the template used two).

In the light of forest management and the effects of habitat destruction, the quality of appropriate habitat is in a state of continuous decline, inevitably leading to a continuous population decline.

Habitat and Ecology



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.

Use and trade

Use and trade

It is an edible species with pharmaceutical properties. However, in North Macedonia, it is not very known for its nourishment, and it is not a subject of trade.



Hericium erinaceus population is threatened due to habitat loss of oak and beech forests. It is threatened by logging of old large-diameter beech and oak trees, along with removal of logs from forests to be used for firewood, thereby decreasing the availability of a suitable host for the fungus. In line with available statistics data and publications, 91% of the total forest covered area in North Macedonia is managed, and most of it (93%) is regarded as productive forest for manufacturing of wood whereas the remaining area is also managed but only with a restriction in regard to the logging system (Trajkov et al. 2016, Kolevska et al. 2017). In practice, the silvicultural system applies clear-cutting in oak forests and at some places in beech forests (Trajkov et al. 2016, pers. obs.), resulting in bare lands and even-aged forests while old growth forests are in a state of decline. In North Macedonia, ca. 1% of forests are logged on an annual basis by the national forestry management service (Kolevska et al. 2017, State Statistics Office 2018), and they are usually exploited in cycles of 30-50 years. Illegal logging is considerably high, with additional 30% to legal wood extraction. Therefore, the quality of the appropriate habitat is continuously reducing, posing a major threat to the maintenance of a stable fungus population.

The raised interest for foraging the fungus fruit bodies owing to its edibility and for medicinal purposes might pose a direct threat.

Construction works and other human activities near the villages are a further threat that may cause a decrease of the area and deterioration of the habitat quality.

Conservation actions

Conservation actions

Conservation needed: The survival of this fungus depends on the accessibility of a proper host. Therefore, for conservation of the current species, preservation of old, large-diameter and damaged trees in beech and oak forests is vital. The established sites should be maintained in their natural condition. In the silvicultural management of forests in the country, instead of clear-cutting, trees of various age should be left on site to be allowed to grow and create a suitable habitat for the fungus; also fallen trunks should not be removed from the site.

Reforestation with alien species should not be applied.

Research needed: Regular monitoring of the known sites ought to be conducted, accompanied by field research at the noted potential sites in order to explore the distribution and dynamic of occurrence of Hericium erinaceus. It is advisable to digitize and regularly update forest inventories and forestry plans. There is a necessity of elaboration of a habitat map.



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