Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Smooth and elegant

I fancied a stroll after work this evening and headed north out of Small Dole towards Oreham Common. At the edge of the public footpath, as I approached Oreham Manor, I happened to catch a glimpse of these.

Sprouting from a well-rotted log, beneath some scrubby trees and surrounded by lanky-looking light-starved nettles, was a colony of... well... what?

I imagined they'd be some kind of oyster mushroom. But a quick up-stipe shot revealed... no gills!

By now I was flicking frantically through the pages of my Collins Complete (photographic) Guide, looking for mushrooms with (a) no gills, and (b) no visible pores. No joy.

At this point I decided to phone Michael, who has been very supportive of my fungi-finding exploits, and ask if he would come and meet me, bringing a copy of the Collins (illustrated)  Fungi Guide, which I'd earlier decided was too heavy to put in my rucksack.

Perusal of the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide convinced me I must be somewhere in the genus Polyporus – stemmed polypores with a "toadstool-like fruit body; often with excentric or lateral stem; on wood". But I couldn't match what I was looking at to any of the species described in the book, so I took a small specimen for closer examination at home.

Here it is:

What to say about it?

The elegant outline is perhaps its most striking feature making stipe and cap one seamless sweeping structure,  finished off with a thin and perfectly-rolled rim.

The underside of the cap is an attractive chalky-white colour, with a gradual transition through shades of mousy-brown to the base of the stipe.

The mouse-brown cap has a slightly waxy finish and the underside appears perfectly smooth. Even with a hand lens, I can't make out any pores.

And it has a pleasant mushroomy smell.

The closest match I can find in the Collins (illustrated)  Fungi Guide is the Fringed Polypore Polyporus ciliatus, which fruits in Spring to late Summer widespread but uncommon. (This species isn't included in the Collins 'Complete' (photographic) Guide.)

But I read somewhere else that Polyporus ciliatus is so called because it has fine bristly hairs on the cap and margin. Even looking down the microscope, I can't see any hairs. The rim just looks, well, smooth.

Might share this one on the Sussex Fungus Group forum and see what they think.

UPDATE 05/09/16

I got a second opinion on this Polyporus from the Sussex Fungus Group. The consensus there was it's likely to be a young example of the Bay Polypore Picipes (=Polyporus) badius, but I'd have to get a look at a mature specimen to be sure. 

On Thursday evening I headed north again, out of Small Dole, to get another look at these mushrooms. 

More than two weeks had passed since I last set eyes on them, and this is how I found them: brown, leathery and wavy.

On these fresher specimens, you can see the darker centre to the bay-brown cap, which is indicative of Bay Polypore Picipes (=Polyporus) badius.

On the underside, miniscule pores are just visible to the naked eye and the stipe is a dark chocolate brown colour. 

The Collins Complete (photographic) Guide says there is another species, the Blackfoot Polypore P. leptocephalus (=P. varius), which is similar to P. badius. But in P. leptocephalus only the base of the stipe is black.

I thought at first the light brown dusting on the upper surface of these mushrooms was just dirt, but I think it's some kind of mould.

If I was a hardcore mycologist I'd try and ID this too. I'm not. (Not yet anyway.)

For the record
Date: 16/08/16
Location: Oreham Manor
Grid reference:
Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017


  1. I agree with Nick that a very young Polyporus badius could look like this. Please post a photo of the caps in a week or so. Or any time after that as they are very long lasting.

    1. Thanks Edward, I've just updated the blog post with photos of the mature fruit bodies.

      I'm thinking it is Polyporus badius, or Picipes badius, or Polyporus durus - whatever we're calling it!

  2. Some fungi can occasionally develop with no gills or pores, i.e. they are sterile. This is quite rare but should not be ruled out in this case. I agree that P. badius is a possibility as it does have a smooth cap but I'm not convinced it is a Polyporus species at all. What was the texture like? a Polyporus would be pretty tough, far more so than an oyster. It will be really interesting to hear how they develop.

    1. Thanks for this information Vivien, I didn't know that fungi can develop without gills or pores. I shall look out for this phenomenon on my forays!

      I've just updated this blog post with photos of the mature fruit bodies. They are pretty tough and I think a good match for P. badius now.

  3. P. badius without doubt now. A nice follow up showing how confusing the intial appearance of a fruit body can be. Vivien's comment is also relevant as extreme variants in development also occur.
    The somewhat irritating (to me anyway) habit of taxonomists to shorten the generic to a Capital letter with a full stop is handy here as it allows me to include Polyporus and Picipes.

  4. Very interesting, I am into fungi about a year now, still quite new, I live in Reading Pa. (USA) and I came across a white one of these with a slight tan cap, no gills, no pores. It has me and the mushroom ID group I joined on Face Book stumped a bit. Someone thinks it might be a young Picipes badius, I originally thought it to be a Clitocybe gibba. I would love to share my photos with you if you want? Glad to see it is Identified finally. :)

    1. Hi Debra, thrilled to hear this blog has helped solve a mystery in Reading, *Pennsylvania*! Would love to see your photos. Please either post a link here or, if you click on "View my complete profile" above, you can send me an email.

  5. Thank you for posting this! I found a very similar specimen in the young stage that you found it, and I couldn't find any other pictures or books with any information. I'm so glad you posted the follow-up.

    1. Ah! Thanks so much for your comment. Glad it's been helpful!