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The March 2012 featured mushroom was:

Bondarzewia berkeleyi, Berkeley’s Polypore

Berkely's polypore A mature Berkely's Polypore

Berkeley’s polypore is one of the largest mushrooms we encounter in hardwood forest, occurring with oak and maple. The Berkeley’s polypore grows in a cluster of fan-shaped, overlapping caps that can grow as large as 3 feet across and a foot high. It is one of very few mushrooms with both the genus and the species epithet honoring former mycologists.

The cluster of caps attached to a central stem is often roseate in appearance growing from the base or stumps of hardwoods particularly oak. The tan to yellowish to grayish fan-shaped caps of Berkeley’s polypore can be up to 10 inches across, 6 inches wide and two inches thick. The cap surface is smooth and dry and sometimes is pitted and has radial wrinkles. The caps are faintly to conspicuously zoned (bands of color following the fan shape mark the cap). The yellowish stem of the mushroom is 2 to 5 inches tall, 1 to 3 inches thick. The pores are white as is the spore print. The flesh is thick and corky to fibrous with age. The season for these mushrooms is July through October.

Young Berkeley's PolyporeA young Berkely's Polypore

The odor is mild when young becoming rank with age. The taste is mild when young and bitter with age. Although many field guides describe this mushroom as edible when young I have yet to sample it so I can’t give an opinion. If anyone desires to try it, pick very young specimens. The young specimens resemble a hand with thick fingers coming out of the ground. Very soon the flesh of the mushroom becomes fibrous and bitter so only try young specimens.