If you stumble upon a graphic scene of blood-like secretions oozing from the forest floor, you’re likely not to forget it. This horror scene-worthy mushroom is known as Bleeding Tooth Fungus.

 

“My, what big teeth you have!”

Look if you dare – Along with oozing pores, this fungus also has tooth-like projections underneath the mushroom cap and a root system that allows it to spread 11 feet across the forest floor!

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Tooth-like projections under mushroom cap. Photo credit: Dick Culbert

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Biologists are unsure what the red, seeping liquid is exactly. But they do know that bleeding tooth fungus has a symbiotic, beneficial relationship with the coniferous tree roots it attaches to. The fungus receives carbon from the tree roots, and in turn, improves the tree’s mineral absorption.

 

Trick or treat.

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Bleeding tooth fungus. Photo credit: Darvin DeShazer

Looking at these images, your first instinct is probably to plop this velvety mushroom straight into your mouth (thought no one ever), but BEWARE – while it’s not toxic, bleeding tooth fungus is rumored to be so bitter, it’s inedible.

 

Dyeing to meet you.

Bleeding tooth fungus is in the genus Hydnellum, which includes several mushroom species used to create natural dyes. These horrifying fungi can be used to produced gray, brown, and olive colors.

 

“I want to [thin] your blood.”

Bleeding tooth fungus in the woods. Photo credit: Curtis AkinThis misunderstood fungus contains a natural chemical compound called atromentin. Atromentin has properties like the blood-thinner heparin and has potential uses in the medical industry.

 

Now that you’ve gotten to know a bit more about this spooky, sporogenic specimen, you won’t be haunted with curiosity should you encounter one in the woods!