Group: The Polypores
Families: Cystostereaceae, Fomitopsidaceae, Fragiliporiaceae, Ganodermataceae, Gelatoporiaceae, Meripilaceae, Meruliaceae, Phanerochaetaceae, Polyporaceae, Sparassidaceae, Steccherinaceae, Xenasmataceae, and many others.
Fungi within the polypore group include relatively diverse mushroom features; and are divided up into many genera. Polypores are commonly found on either living trees or upon dead woody debris. The host (substrate) which the polypore feasts can be a good indicator leading to identification and it is often helpful to note whether the tree is a softwood (conifers) or hardwood (deciduous/angiosperms). Perhaps one of the greatest merits of the polypore group is their importance within the decomposition process of dead and living wood (i.e. trunks of trees, fallen branches, and sometimes leaf litter) which in turn helps these mushrooms to fulfill their nutritional needs (saprophytic). In living trees, the presence of a polypore can often signify the beginning of the death process for trees as the mushroom’s mycelium (strands of hyphae slightly like roots) slither into the heartwood of trees to eventually produce a brownish-red rot.
The visual characteristics of fungi within this grouping are represented by:
- A rigid and tough texture
- A shelf-like appearance
- Pores located on the underside of the spore bearing surface (hymenium)
- Pore diversity: small to large, deep or shallow, round or otherwise, neatly arranged or maze-like, etc.
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.
Kuo, M. (2004, November). Polyporales: The polypores. Retrieved from:
Volk, T. J. (2000). Polypore primer: An introduction to the characters used to identify poroid wood decay
fungi. McIlvainea 14: 74-82
Volk, T. (2005). Polypores
This velvety brown mushroom was once soft and fleshy but has since matured to become a tough and leathery doppelgänger of its former self. These individuals are thought to be Ischnoderma resinosum and when young they were capable of exuding a resin-like liquid.
Ischnoderma typically appears on newly deceased or downed wood is observed here along the bark of a hardwood that was likely once a Basswood (Tilia americana). Interestingly, as the fungus decomposes the sapwood and heartwood of the host, it causes white or yellow rot which is said to exhibit a distinctive smell of anise (like licorice). The habit of this species is variable as it may grow singly or in overlapping clusters. The kidney or bracket shaped formation of this mushroom usually makes its appearance in autumn. The porous spore bearing underside (hymenium) of this mushroom is soft and white when young and as it matures it transitions to a gray-brown rubbery texture.
Kuo, M. (2004, October). Ischnoderma resinosum. Retrieved from:
Largent, D. (1973) How to Identify Mushrooms (to Genus) using Only Macroscopic Features. Mad River
Press, Eureka, Calif.