Shelf Fungus on Trees

Written by edriaan koening
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Unlike other mushrooms, shelf fungi have no stem and have many pores. They develop brackets that produce spores above the ground and have woody, leathery or fleshy textures. They cause rotting in wood, eventually killing the host trees. Once shelf fungi infect a tree, they cannot be killed and will continue damaging the wood.

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Artist's Conk

Artist's conk (Ganoderma applanatum) grows on both dead and live trees. It usually attacks broadleaved trees such as maple trees. It has a tough, almost woody texture and forms flat shelves on trees. It has crusty surfaces and white pores that easily turns brownish when touched. Each layer measures 1/3 to 1 1/2 inches in length. The layers form tubes that have a rust colour. It also has soft areas that appear brown and white.

Sulphur Shelf

Also known as chicken mushroom, sulphur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) has a distinctive orange-yellow colouration. It grows on both dead and live deciduous and coniferous hardwood trees such as hemlocks, oaks and cherry trees. It often consist of many fan-like shelves that overlap and reach 1 foot in diameter. It has a smooth underside and wrinkled upper surface. Sulphur shelves usually appear in the summer or fall and persist for several years.

Trembling Merulius

Trembling merulius (Phebia tremellosa) grows on deciduous trees such as maple and birch trees in North America. It forms semi circular shelves on trunks and branches that each measures 1 to 3 inches in width. It has an off-white colour with pink underside. It has a spongy and gelatinous texture with fine hairs on its surface. The colour turns clear near the margins.

Northern Tooth

Northern tooth (Climacodon septentrionale) usually attacks the wounds of live hardwood trees, especially maple trees. It forms shelves high up on tree trunks and branches. The flat shelves have a fan shape and a thickness of 1 to 2 inches, with edges that sometimes form a wavy texture. They tightly overlap each other, forming stacks and clusters as long as 12 inches. The top surface has a white to cream colour and the underside has dense white teeth.

Thin-Maze Flat Polypore

Thin-maze flat polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa) attacks decaying logs or wounded areas on deciduous trees. It often targets birch trees, but also grows on willow. The flat shelves have a fan shape and measure 1 to 6 inches in diameter. It consists of woody, tough material and has concentric bands of colour. It is usually brown in the centre and becomes grey, cream and white near the edges. The pores on the underside appear white to beige.

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