Daedalea quercina (L.) Pers. - Oak Mazegill

Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Polyporales - Family: Fomitopsidaceae

Daedalea quercina - Oak Mazegill, Scotland

Often solitary, this large imposing bracket fungus sometimes occurs in tiers, particularly on the cut ends of felled oak trunks. It is less often seen on other kinds of hardwood timber.

Daedalea quercina is referred to as a Mazegill fungus, because the very wide gill-like pores are radially-aligned in a pattern that resembles a maze. (This is a much more chunky fungus that the other common species bearing the 'mazegill title: Lenzites betulinus, the Birch Mazegill.)

Daedalea quercina - Oak Mazegill, Wales

The form of this very common bracket fungus is rather variable. Sometimes - particularly when on fallen trunks and branches - the fruitbodies look very much like shelves with slightly domed tops, as pictured above. More often, and nearly always when growing on standing dead trees or stumps, they take on a semi-conical form as shown in the upper picture. (You might even imagine that there is a lamp inside waiting to be switched on when darkness falls!)

Distribution

Common and widespread in Britain and Ireland and found throughout most of mainland Europe, this saprobic fungus occurs also in North America and in many other temperate regions.

Taxonomic history

In 1753 Carl Linnaeus called the Oak Mazegill Agaricus quercinus; its current name comes from Christiaan Hendrik Persoon's 1801 publication.

Daedalea quercina - Oak Mazegill, on a decaying oak stump

Daedalea quercina is the type species of the genus Daedalea. This small genus, with fewer than ten species (most very rarely seen) recorded in Britain, was established by the pioneering South Africa-born mycologist Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in 1801.

Synonyms of Daedalea quercina include Agaricus quercinus L., Trametes hexagonoides Fr., Trametes quercina (L.) Pilát, Lenzites quercina (L.) P. Karst., and Daedalea quercina f. hexagonoides (Fr.) Bondartsev.

Etymology

It is from its labyrinthine gill-like pores that this distinctive bracket fungus gets its generic scientific name. In Greek mythology, Daedalus constructed a labyrinth at Knossos for King Minos of Crete, and in that labyrinth lived the Minotaur - half-man, half-bull.

Identification guide

Cap of Daedalea quercina

Cap

Most often seen on oak stumps, the caps of this cork-like bracket fungus grow to between 6 and 20cm across and fruitbodies are commonly 2 to 5cm thick but occasionally much thicket at the centre of the attachment region.

Maze-like pores of Daedalea quercina

Tubes

The tubes are in the form of large slots 1 to 3cm deep and 2cm wide; they are interconnected to form a maze-like structure with the slots generally aligned radially. The pale ocraceous walls of the maze vary greatly in thickness from one specimen to another but are typically of width similar to that of the slots.

Maze-like pores of Daedalea quercina

Pores

The pore surface is varius shdes of pale ochre, dependent on the age of the fruitbody - usually darkening with age.

 

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, 5-7 x 2-4 µm.

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Slight acrid odour; no distinctive taste but a very tough texture.

Habitat & Ecological role

Daedalea quercina is saprobic and occurs on standing and fallen dead oak wood and, less frequently, Sweet Chestnut.

Season

Oak Mazegills can be seen all year round, but they shed spores in late summer and autumn.

Similar species

Daedaleopsis confragosa, the Blushing Bracket, has smaller pore openings many of which are in the form of closed slots.

Lenzites betulinus is similar, with thinner cream 'gills'; it occurs mainly on birch trees.

Daedalea quercina - Oak Mazegill, on an old oak stump, southern Scotland

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

BMS List of English Names for Fungi

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.

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