Bjerkandera adusta (Willd.) P. Karst. - Smoky Bracket

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Polyporiales - Family: Meruliaceae

Bjerkandera adusta, Smoky Bracket, Somerset UK

A very variable small-pored fungus, the Smoky Bracket can occur either as a resupinate crust on the underside of a fallen branch, as a reflexed bracket on the side of dead hardwood (or very occasionally on conifer wood), or even as a rounded cap with a short stem (see small image in the 'Identification' section, below) when growing on the upper surface of dead wood.

Despite its shape-shifting capability, this crust fungus is recognisable by its grey fertile surface.

Bjerkandera adusta, Smoky Bracket, semi-resupinate form

Distribution

Common and widespread in most parts of Britain and Ireland, this wood-rotting fungus is found also throughout mainland Europe as well as in many other parts of the world including North America.

Taxonomic history

Smoky Bracket was first described scientifically in 1787 by German botanist Carl Ludwig Willdenow (1765 - 1812), who gave it the binomial name Boletus adustus. Nearly a century later, in 1880, this wood-rotting fungus acquired its currently-accepted scientific name when Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten, who created the genus Bjerkandera and several other genera, renamed it Bjerkandera adusta.

Synonyms of Bjerkandera adusta include Boletus adustus Willd., Boletus carpineus Sowerby,  Boletus crispus Pers., Polyporus adustus (Willd.) Fr.Polyporus crispus (Pers.) Fr.Leptoporus adustus (Willd.) Quél., Polyporus adustus f. resupinata Bres., Gloeoporus adustus (Willd.) Pilát, and Bjerkandera adusta f. resupinata (Bourdot & Galzin) Domanski, Orlos & Skirg. (NB Some authorities place this species in the family Hapalopilaceae.)

Bjerkandera adusta, Smoky Bracket, on a tree stump; copyright Tony Robinson

Etymology

The specific epithet adusta means scorched, while the genus Bjerkandera was named in honour of Clas Bjerkander (1735 - 1795), a Swedish clergyman, meteorologist, botanist, and entomologist who studied at the University of Uppsala, where many other famous Swedish naturalists including Carl Linnaeus and, later, Elias Magnus Fries carried out much of their research and teaching.

Identification guide

Cap form of Bjerkandera adusta

Cap forms

In crust, bracket or cap form; 2 to 6cm across; when resupinate or in cap form, the infertile surface is felty, becoming smooth; rounded, concentrically ringed in ochre, grey-brown and mid brown.

Tubes and pores

The fertile surface is covered in shallow tubes with minute pores spaced at 6 to 7 per mm; pore surface is grey except near the margin where it is pale buff.

Spores of Bjerkandera adusta, Smoky Bracket

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 4.5-5.5 x 2.5-3µm..

Show larger image

Spore print

White

Odour/taste

Not distinctive.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic on dead hardwood, and very occasionally on dead conifers.

Season

Summer, autumn and early winter.

Similar species

Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail, has a white fertile surface rather than grey.

Bjerkandera adusta, Smoky Bracket, resupinate form

Culinary Notes

The Smoky Bracket is tough and inedible.

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.

Acknowledgement

This page includes a picture kindly contributed by Tony Robinson.

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