29 January 2010

Bracket Fungus

Last weekend, Keith Board and I briefly visited a boggy site in South Bend. We hadn't been on the site for 5 minutes before I broke through the surface and was over my knee boots in ice-cold water. Regardless, it was nice to get outside. Keith was very amused, especially since I fell through in a spot where he had just been standing. Instead of offering to help, Keith was reaching for his camera, but not quickly enough.

Portions of the site are dominated by woody species such as Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Chokeberry (Aronia prunifolia), and Gray Birch (Betula populifolia), which was once considered extirpated from the state. This is a very interesting community for St. Joseph County, Indiana.

One of the highlights on this day was the shelf fungus seen growing on several of the birch trees.

The best that I can tell, this is Birch Bracket Fungus (Piptoporus betulinus), but I would be willing to entertain other possibilities if anyone has other ideas. Birch Polypore or Razor Strop, as it is also known, grows on dead birch trees, or on wounds on living birch trees.

This fungus is said to be edible (but not very tasty); it has also been used medicinally. The common name Razor Strop comes from the use of this fungus to sharpen razors.

With the white snow, white sky, and white tree trunks, the yellow-orange underside of this beautiful fungus really stood out.


Justin Thomas said...

I agree with underlined square, square, square, square, square.

That is one freaky-deakey shroom. It looks like an alien protruding from the bark. Thanks for broadening my knowledge of the dark world.

Scott said...

Interesting that you say it looks like an alien... something about it made me think of a UFO.

Justin Thomas said...

Long live the Doctrine of Signatures.

Steve said...

You should report the Betula Populifolia to the USDA site. There's currently no record for St. Joe county.

I submitted a record for a stand of it that I found last fall at the Harbert Road Preserve in Berrien County. However, after checking the site, I see that they still show no record of it in Michigan. I should probably follow up.

Scott Namestnik said...

Hi Steve. Is there a method for reporting plants to the USDA Plants database? Kind of scary if there is, really, as I wouldn't want everyone reporting their findings not knowing who they are or how qualified they are. I know plenty of people that think that they know plants...

We've sent specimens for St. Joseph and LaPorte County to Morton Arboretum, and they will be included in the new Flora of the Chicago Region when it comes out. USDA will likely update their maps based on floras and other publications.

Steve said...

Yes there really is a method for reporting to USDA, although at present, it is saying that it's "unavailable".

Below the distribution map on this link


there's a hyperlink to the "Distribution Update Module". Once there (when it works), there's a fairly thorough process for adding data, and as I recall, photographic evidence along with GPS coordinates is mandatory.

Scott Namestnik said...

Thanks for letting me know about this, Steve. I hope they would require more than a photo in some instances, especially sedges and panic grasses.