Monday, October 03, 2016

The tree eaters

A mushroom is the fruiting, spore producing part of a much larger organism, with most of its body underground, or weaving its way through organic matter. Sometimes, turning over a rotting log, we see a mass of white root-like threads; the hyphae of a fungus. The mushroom they support may be quite a distance away.

The shelf fungi, aka bracket fungi or polypores*, live on wood, slowly decomposing it until it merges into the forest floor to support the next generation. Trees are slow growing, and so are the shelves that grow on them; some can live for decades, and develop growth rings like the trees they inhabit.

Three separate shelf fungi, growing together on a stump. With a "map" section between and a banana slug at the back. The green markings are caused by smaller algae. 

On the cut end of a log. 

Red belt conk, Fomitopsis pinicola. On a cut log.

Fomitopsis pinicola is probably the most commonly spotted fungus in the entire PNW. (PNWMushrooms)

A young red belt conk, weeping. With a few dabs of witches butter.

Lick the dewdrops, they're tangy. (From PNWMushrooms)

I'll have to try that next time.

And another, on a living tree.

*They're called polypores because they produce their spores in tiny, sometimes microscopic, pores on the underside. Each individual pore opens straight down, so that the spores can fall out without touching the sides.


  1. Native Peoples thought they were responsible for echos. They used them as a body powder / antiperspirant. Trees and their unique shelf fungi could serve as waymarks.

    Ethnobotany of Puget Sound Erna Gunther

  2. Correction of book title

    Ethnobotany of Western Washington

  3. Thanks!


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