Group: Crust Fungi
Families: “Corticiaceae” & “Thelephoraceae” (includes other less represented families as well)
Genera: Aleurodiscus, Coniophora, Corticium, Lopharia, Phanerochaete, Peniophora, Phlebia, Stereum, Thelephora, Xylobolus, and others.
Crust fungi encompass a wide variation of mushroom features; though they are commonly found on either living trees or upon dead woody debris and therefore decompose these woody substrates (i.e. trunks of trees, fallen branches, and sometimes leaf litter) in order to fulfill their nutritional needs (saprophytic).
The visual characteristics of fungi within this grouping are represented by two types:
- Those that are quite rigid and display a shelf-like appearance, where the mushroom forms away from the chosen substrate (e.g. tree trunk).
- Those that spread along a woody surface in a flat and appressed fashion (resupinate).
The spore bearing surface (hymenium) of crust fungi will take on an appearance which is either smooth, wrinkled, grainy, or pimpled. The hymenium layer is located on the underside of shelf-like mushrooms or in plain upright view for those which are flatly appressed to woody surfaces. Consequently, the spore bearing surface of crust fungi are without teeth (a characteristic found within the toothed mushroom group) and will display an absence of pores (an identifier of mushrooms belonging to the polypore group).
Other information that might aid in recognizing mushrooms within this group can be attributed to their structure and coloration. For example, as a result of their tough quality, crust fungi are quite likely to remain and be observed year-round. Furthermore, crust fungi can take on a spectrum of colors and striped patterns which may be embodied by bright hues of orange, yellow, blue, and pink or more commonplace colorations such as browns and white. As a final note, spore coloration is extremely important in mushroom identification and the family Corticaceae will express light spore colors, while the family Thelephoraceae will appear brown.
This is a difficult group to identify since the majority of the mushrooms placed within this group exhibit fairly similar appearances but are not close in relation.
DO NOT EAT WILD MUSHROOMS WITHOUT IDENTIFICATION BY AN EXPERT. THESE ARE ONLY IDENTIFIED TO THE LEVEL OF GENUS AND ARE THEREFORE INADEQUATE TO DETERMINE EDIBILITY. EATING WILD MUSHROOMS CAN KILL.
Floudas, D. (2014). Where are the corticioid fungi in North America? McIlvainea 23 (11-12): http://www.namyco.org/publications/mcilvainea/v23/corticoid_fungi_in_North_America.html
Kuo, M. (2008, December). Crust fungi. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/crusts.html
Volk, T. (2005). Crust Fungi.