Common name: Dryads Saddle, Pheasant’s Back Mushroom.
Description and identifying characteristics: A bracket fungus with a funnel or fan-shaped cap that is 8–30 cm (3–12 in) across, and up to 10 cm (4 in) thick. The cap is brown to yellowish in color, often darkening in age. The cap is covered by overlapping, brown scales/squamules. The stem is thick, tough, black in color at the base, and up to 3 cm (1.25 in) in diameter.
Dryad’s saddle is a polypore, with large, angular pores across a cream-white to yellow pore surface. The spores are 10-16 x 4-6 microns, smooth and broadly elliptical to oblong. It occurs singly or in groups of two or more, often in overlapping shelves.
Ecology/associated host or habitat: P. squamosus is a white-rot fungus, causing decay in the heartwood of living trees. It also grows saprotrophically on fallen logs and stumps. It can also be found growing parasitically, especially on hardwood trees such as maple and box elder.
Dryad’s saddle mushrooms appear in the spring, and again in the fall. They are usually one of the first mushrooms to appear in the spring, commonly found at the same time as morels. They tend not to be found during the summer months, preferring the cool temperatures of spring and fall.
Poisonous look-alikes: There are no look-alikes to this mushroom, and there are no poisonous polypores in Michigan.
Tips on harvesting: Only young, supple specimens are considered suitable for harvesting. Older specimens tend to be leathery, and although they may be suitable for making a soup base, they are not considered choice for most culinary uses.
Possible allergic reactions and symptoms: There are no recorded allergic reactions to consuming this mushroom. As a general rule, to minimize the risk of allergic reactions, it is imperative that all mushrooms, including dryad’s saddles, be cooked thoroughly before consuming. It is recommended to limit your portion size whenever eating a species you’ve never eaten before. It is also advisable not to consume more than one new species of mushroom at the same time.
Special considerations for storage. As with other mushrooms, the storage of mushrooms is best in containers that allow some gas exchange rather than containers do not. In other words, mushrooms are better stored in paper bags than plastic ones. Do not store this or any other mushroom in an airtight, Ziploc-type bag.
|Single Dryad’s saddle||Overlapping bracket for|
|Yellow pore surface||Cream-white pore surface|