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The Painted Bolete
Suillus spraguei

A Massachusetts local?

The Painted Suillus - The Painted Slippery Cap



Color - reddish brown to orange yellow; scaly; fades with age

Height - up to 12 cm

Cap diameter - up to 12 cm

Spore print - brownish yellow to olive

Edibility: Edible

What's in a  [common] name?

The painted bolete, Suillus spraguei, is named after Charles James Sprague, the first person to collect and record this mushroom in 1856, right here in New England. Sprague was born in Boston in 1823 where he became a bank official and botanist, specializing in lichens. His lichen collection currently resides in Boston’s Museum of Science. First named Boletus spraguei, the painted bolete did not receive its current scientific name until 1986 after undergoing several name changes including Boletus pictus, meaning “painted” in Latin.

Description and Ecology

The cap of the painted bolete is convex and flattens with age. It ranges in color from reddish brown to orange yellow and is typically decorated with scales. While many Suillus species have a slimy cap, this cap is dry. When young, the cap edges are rolled inward and the yellow pores are covered by a veil or partial veil. The spore print is brownish yellow to olive. The stem can be up to 12 cm tall and can sometimes be bulbous toward the base. The flesh is yellow and stains red to brown when cut.


The painted bolete forms ectomycorrhizal associations with pine trees across the northeastern United States and Canada. They can be found from June to late October after rainfalls around pine trees. Interestingly, a recent study found that there is little genetic diversity amongst the painted bolete species across the northeastern United States (Rivera et al. 2014).


The Painted Bolete

Suillus spraguei

Photo taken by author.


Hallmark Yellow Pores

Suillus spraguei

Photo taken by author.

Culinary Uses

While edible, use of the painted bolete in cooking has been taken into question. Many sources describe its taste as mediocre, while some suggest it is a mushroom of choice. The Mushroom Expert, Michael Kuo, describes the taste as “not distinctive,” while the Mushroom Appreciator, Jenny, describes the painted bolete as having a “sweet, nutty taste” (Mushroom Expert; Mushroom Appreciation). I agree with Michael that the flavor is not distinctive. However, the flavor isn't bad and I think these mushrooms can be added to bolster any mushroom meal. I recommend the mushroom risotto tagged below. It should also be noted that this mushroom can turn a blackish color when cooked. 

All photos on this page were taken by the author.

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