Collection location: Culpeper Co., Virginia, USA [Click for map]
Who: Penny Firth (pfirth)
Is this a truffle? It was lying on the ground, ventral side up, with a few tiny pieces of itself scattered here and there. It was under a very mature white pine in an area that was cut over for hardwoods 3 years ago. There were two fairly shallow spots (~3-4 cm deep by 10-12 cm diameter) where it looked like something had been digging in the duff. I did not find any other specimens in the area. When I cut it in half it smelled delicious. Kind of rich, spicy, earthy. I have the specimen under refrigeration. Not sure how one takes a spore print.
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This is an ascomycete (all true truffles are ascomycetes). So this is a true truffle. It is more related to Discina than a Tuber. It varies from Tuber in having the spores formed in a pallisade, which is why the interior looks so convoluted. It is probably edible, but if you find only one why bet your life on that?
The good thing is there are likely more around. You state there were 2 other shallow spots nearby. Those also may have been truffles before being dug up an likely eaten by squirrels, voles, moles, or other small critters.
Hydnotrya are infrequently collected in most of the United States. In your area, be aware of other older pine trees, especially white pine trees.
These truffles often have rather nice aromas associated with them. It can be difficult to put into words what you smell, as the English language is not noted for aromatic phrases. But do record, if possible, what the truffle smelled like to you: fungal? fruity? cheesey? meaty? spicy? floral? nutty? Or any of the above combinations plus whatever you can come up with yourself.
Because most truffles fruit underground, they cannot be dispersed by animals unless they are dug up and eaten. Problem is, some animals regularly eat what is poisonous to humans.