Mys­tery fun­gus with a leath­ery sur­face

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

Iwas sent a few pho­tos of a large fun­gus grow­ing out of a tree in some­one’s gar­den in Ash­ford last month. They were fas­ci­nated by it and wanted to know what it is. Some­times the clue with iden­ti­fy­ing fungi is what tree or plant it is grow­ing out of. In this case the tree is a sil­ver birch and the fun­gus is a birch poly­pore. The fun­gus is very dis­tinc­tive and an­other name for it is the ra­zor strop fun­gus, as the top sur­face is very tough and leath­ery. Strips of the up­per sur­face of the fun­gus were used like a strap, which was usu­ally leather, for sharp­en­ing ra­zors. The fun­gus had the cap fold­ing over to give a dis­tinc­tive smooth rim around the pore sur­face. The feel of the fun­gus sug­gests poly­styrene and it was used in old times for stuff­ing as it was light and also widely avail­able. The fun­gus it­self is an an­nual and so never lives for more than one sea­son. The odour is strong and is quite pleas­ant and it is not poi­sonous and not par­tic­u­larly rare. How­ever, the fun­gus is there to feed on dead or de­cay­ing wood and the sil­ver birch tree it­self might be start­ing to de­te­ri­o­rate in the heart of the trunk due to old age.

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Owen Leyshon, Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Project, tele­phone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk

A birch poly­pore

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