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280 days of Urbpandemonium #61

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One thing I emphasize in my mushroom classes is that identifying mushrooms to species is really really difficult. I tell them that they should join a mycology club, consult no fewer than 3 field guides, make sure all of the field markings match (including spore color, which may take hours to obtain), and to notice if there are any other species that could be possibly confused with the one they suspect. Still many species can not be identified without using a microscope to look at some features.

Then there's this one, dryad's saddle Polyporus squamosus* that I identified while zipping by on a morning run. This species is one of the few that comes out this early in the year, one of the few with the shaggy "pheasant's back" pattern on the cap (such markings, if they are attached at one side are called "scales" as opposed to warts, which can be easily rubbed or washed off), and distinctively large and fairly fleshy. Polypores are mushrooms that are produced by fungi that feed on dead wood, and are characterized by a spore-producing surface covered with many holes--the openings of tubes lined with cells that make spores. Most polypores are woody or leathery, but a few are fleshy, and some people insist on eating them. They are mostly indigestible chitin, and foragers are advised to take only the freshest softest bits and cook them for a long time. I have not eaten dryad's saddle, but I suppose I will some time, to report the experience if nothing else.

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* Many holes, scaly.


The Urban Pantheist

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