Pisolithus tinctorius or Pisolithus arhizus: The Dog Turd Fungus

Dead man’s foot, Pisolithus tinctorius (Pers.) Coker and Couch. Note the brown spore deposit at the top of the picture.


Pisolithus arhizus (Scop.:Pers) Rauschert
Scleroderma tinctorium Pers.
  Syn. meth. fung. (Göttingen) 1: 152 (1801)

Common names

Bohemian truffle
Dead man’s foot
Dyeball/dyemaker’s puffball
Horse dung fungus
Pea rock


Fruiting body: initially globose to clavate, 4-12 cm diameter, 4-25 cm high, irregularly club-shaped, dull white, spotted olive-brown, yellowish brown to dingy brown with age.
Peridium: breaking open and disintegrating at the apex, releasing the brown powdery spores (see photo above). The gleba is composed of oval locules, pure white at first, becoming yellowish then dark brown and powdery when mature. Locules mature from the top down and more locules form near the base until almost the entire fruiting body is converted into a powdery mass.

Pisolithus tinctorius Cross Section
Cross section of P. tinctorius, clearly showing the locules that comprise the gleba. Compare the mature lobules at the top with the younger locules towards the bottom.

Odor: mild when young, but unpleasant with age.
Spore print: brown/cinnamon
Spores: globose, with long (up to 1 µm) spines, thick-walled, 7-12 µm.
Habitat: single to several, occasionally gregarious on ground under hardwoods and conifers; widely distributed; fruiting in spring, summer and fall during wet weather.
Edibility: inedible.

P. tinctorius forms mycorrhizal relationships with a variety of plants, especially Pinus and Eucalyptus species; the mushroom mycelium is routinely used to help initiate and establish new forests.
Dyemakers have used this mushroom when a brown color is desired.

The Truth About Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal Mushrooms are great. One of the few supplements I feel confident taking that actually has benefits. Most of the supplement industry is selling you on placebo, but I don't feel that's the case with medicinal mushrooms. HOWEVER; a large portion of the Mushroom Industry is corrupt. ​Come read this article if you want to find out the Dirty Secret in the Mushroom Industry and how to choose an Authentic Mushroom Supplement.

Bioactive compounds

A number of triterpenes have been isolated from this species using successive column and preparative thin-layer chromatography techniques (Zamuner et al., 2005):

  • 3β,22x,23x-trihydroxy-24-methyllanosta-8,24(28)-diene-31-al 22-acetate, a novel triterpene pisosteral
  • 3β,22x,23x-trihydroxy-24-methylianosta-8,24(28)-diene 22-acetate (pisosterol, shown below)
  • 3α,22x,23x-trihydroxy-24-methyllanosta-8,24(28)-diene 22-acetate (3-epi-pisosterol)
  • 3β,22x,23x-trihydroxy-24-methyllanosta-8,24(28)-diene 23-acetate
  • 3β,22x,23x-trihydroxy-24-ethyllanosta-8,24(28)-diene 22-acetate
  • 3β,22x-dihydroxy-24-methyllanosta-8,24(28)-diene
  • 3β,22x-dihydroxy-24-ethyllanosta-8,24(28)-diene
  • 3β-hydroxylanosta-8,24-diene (lanosterol)
  • 3β-hydroxylanosta-7(8),9,24-triene (agnosterol)
Pisosterol, antitumor triterpene.

The first four listed triterpenes were isolated from a fungus growing in association with Eucalyptus trees, and the latter five from a mycelial culture of a strain that had been growing under Pinus taeda. These differences in triterpene composition from different P. tinctorius strains may suggest that the fungus is able to adapt and optimize its phytochemical output to establish the optimum mycorrhizal relationship with the host.

Medicinal properties

Antitumor effects

The triterpene pisosterol (chemical structure shown above) has been shown to have antitumor activity against seven tumor cell lines, especially leukemia and melanoma cells (IC50 of 1.55, 1.84 and 1.65 µg/ml for CEM, HL-60 and B16, respectively) (Montenegro et al., 2004). The compound has also been shown to induce a monocytic cell-like differentiation of the leukemia cell line HL-60 (Montenegro et al., 2007). Additionally, a recent in vivo study has corroborated the in vitro results. Montenegro et al. (2008) demonstrated that Sarcoma 180-bearing mice treated with pisosterol had significant tumor growth inhibition rates – 43.0% and 38.7% for mice treated with pisosterol at 10 or 100mg/m2, respectively. However, the liver and kidney suffered what the authors described as a ‘reversible’ damage.


Tom Volk’s Fungus of the Month
Mushroom Expert


Montenegro RC, de Vasconcellos MC, Bezerra FS, Andrade-Neto M, Pessoa C, de Moraes MO, Costa-Lotufo LV.
Pisosterol induces monocytic differentiation in HL-60 cells.
Toxicol In Vitro. 2007 21(5):795-800.

Montenegro RC, Farias RAF, Pereira MRP, Alves APNN, Bezerra FS, Andrade-Neto M, Pessoa C, de Moraes MO, Costa-Lotufo LV.
Antitumor activity of pisosterol in mice bearing with S18 tumor.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 31(3):454-7.<
Montenegro RC, Jimenez PC, Farias RAF, Andrade-Neto M, Bezerra FS, Moraes MEA, de Moraes MO, Pessoa C, Costa-Lotufo LV.
Cytotoxic activity of pisosterol, a triterpene isolated from Pisolithus tinctorius (Mich.: Pers.) Coker & Couch, 1928.
Z Naturfors C. 2004 59(7-8):519-22.

Zamuner MLM, Cortez DAG, Dias BP, Lima MIS, Rodrigues E.
Lanostane triterpenes from the fungus Pisolithus tinctorius.
J Brazil Chem Soc. 2005 16(4):863-7.
Online PDF

1 thought on “Pisolithus tinctorius or Pisolithus arhizus: The Dog Turd Fungus”

  1. What is the best way to apply this mycorrhizal to one’s garden? Is it better to coat seeds at the time of planting, or to water plants with a diluted solution?


Leave a Comment