Orange to tan, fan-shaped bracket; scaly on top; underside with rows of white, six-sided, radially arranged pores. Grows on dead branches of deciduous trees. May–November. Cap semicircular, fan-shaped; orange to tan; texture scaly, becoming smooth. Pores six-sided, honeycombed, usually in radial rows; white, drying yellow. Stalk (if present) short, thick, stubby; white, drying yellow. Spore print white. Spores magnified are cylindrical, smooth, colorless.
Lookalikes: Spring polypore (P. arcularius) is found in the spring and has smaller pores, a central stem, and a hairy cap rim. The pores of the thin-maze flat polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa) have a more mazelike arrangement.
Cap width: ⅜–4 inches.
Habitat and Conservation
Grows singly or in groups on dead branches of deciduous trees.
Although this is considered an edible mushroom, it is tough and woody and is not really worth the time it takes to pick and prepare it.
This species lives as a network of cells (mycelium) within the wood of dead or dying branches and logs as a saprobe, digesting and decomposing the wood. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops the "bracket"—this is the reproductive structure. In polypores, spores are produced in the pores on the underside and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere.
It is easy to get caught up in hunting mushrooms for eating. But they each possess a beauty in color and form that we can can enjoy. The underside of this species is amazingly beautiful. Make sure to look at it through a lens.
This is one of the many fungus species that live on decaying wood. It and other such saprobic fungi play an important role in breaking down the staggering amount of dead plant material produced each year and returning nutrients to the soil—an unglamorous but vital role in the ecosystem.
Mushrooms are a lot like plants, but they lack chlorophyll and have to take nutrients from other materials. Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals. They are in a different kingdom — the fungi. Fungi include the familiar mushroom-forming species, plus the yeasts, molds, smuts, and rusts.
Always be cautious when eating edible mushrooms. Be absolutely sure of the ID, and only eat a small amount the first time you try it to avoid a reaction..