Fuscoporia torulosa (Pers) T. Wagner & M. Fisch. - Tufted Bracket

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

Fuscoporia torulosa, Tufted Bracket, Algarve region of Portugal

Bracket fungi do not generally score highly in fungal beauty contests, and the Tufted Bracket (this is its Mediterranean common name, but it has also been included in the British Mycological Society's list of English names of fungi despite the fact that this species is seldom recorded in Britain and Ireland) is no exception. Seen from the top these brackets are like Nature's litter bins, with dead leaves, twigs, acorns and other moss-covered debris. Below is a view of the debris-filled cap of the specimen pictured at the top of this page.

Fuscoporia torulosa, Tufted Bracket, top view

I keep hoping to find a more photogenic specimen, but spiders' webs, mosses and algae invariably adorn these perennial brackets long before I stumble across them.

Fuscoporia torulosa, Tufted Bracket in Portugal

Distribution

Fuscoporia torulosa is very rare in Britain but common in southern Europe, particularly in Mediterranean countries. This species has also been recorded in parts of North America.

Taxonomic history

Christiaan Hendrik Persoon established the basionym of this species in 1818 when he described it under the scienific name Boletus torulosus Pers.,The currently-accepted scientific name Fuscoporia torulosa dates from a 2001 publication by German mycologists T Wagner and M Fischer.

Synonyms of Fuscoporia torulosa include Boudiera rubripora (Quél.) Lázaro Ibiza, Fomes castaneae Woron., Fomes ceratoniae (Lázaro Ibiza) Sacc. & Trotter, and Phellinus torulosus (Pers.) Bourdot & Galzin.

Etymology

Many field guides include this species under its synonymous scientific name Phellinus torulosus. In 1886 the genus Phellinus was circumscribed by French mycologist Lucien Quélet; that generic name comes from phell- meaning cork, while the suffix -inus denotes a superlative. The implication, therefore, is that fungi in the genus Phellinus are the most cork-like (the toughest) of them all. The genus Fuscoporia was established in 2007 by American mycologist William Alphonso Murrill (1869 - 1957); the genus name comes from the Latin adjective fusca meaning dark brown, and is a reference to the dusky (dark brown) pored surface of this polypore. The specific epithet torulosa comes from the Latin torosus or torulosus and means 'cylindrical with periodic knots, bulges and contractions'.

Identification guide

Young Tufted Brackets on an oak trunk

Fruitbody

Sessile (stemless) brackets, sometimes in tiers, grow to between 15 and 40 cm wide; they are laterally attached to tree trunks near their bases.

The upper (infertile) surface is dark brown and velvety, with a lighter tan to russet-brown, finely-velvet rounded margin. Often the upper surface of older brackets is covered at least partly in leaves, woody debris, mosses and algae making this an easy fungus to miss.

Fertile surface of Fuscoporia torulosa

Tubes and Pores

The lower (fertile) surface is irregular but mostly covered in hymenial (spore-producing) tubes and pores. The tubes are brown, 2 to 8mm deep and they terminate in small roundish red-brown pores 0.1 to 0.2mm in diameter spaced at 4 to 6 per mm.

Spores of Fuscoporia torulosa

Spores

Ellipsoidal, smooth, thin-walled, hyaline, 4-6 x 3-4μm; inamyloid.

Show larger image

Spore print

White.

Odour/taste

Not significant.

Habitat & Ecological role

Saprobic or weakly parasitic on broadleaf (hardwood) trees and in particular on oaks, olives, mastic trees and heathers. This bracket fungus is often seen on Carob trees; these brackets are invariably found near the base of the trunk.

Season

Perennial, releasing spores throughout late summer, autumn and early winter.

Similar species

Fomes fomentarius is hoof shaped with an overall grey appearance; it attacks mainly birches in Britain and Ireland.

Fuscoporia torulosa, Tufted Bracket, on an old oak tree  in Portugal

Culinary Notes

Fuscoporia torulosais an extremely tough inedible fungus - even removing one of these brackets from a tree requires a saw and would consume far more calories that would be obtained if you managed to chew and swallow it.

It seems unlikely that Tufted Bracket contains deadly toxins, because according to Tom Volk closely related species were chewed as tobacco substitutes, but we know of no cooking recipes for this undistinguished bracket fungus.

Reference Sources

Bourdot & Galzin (1925), Bulletin de la Société Mycologique de France 41: 191

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

Wagner T, Fischer M. (2001). Natural groups and revised system for the European poroid Hymenochaetales (Basidiomycota) supported by nLSU rDNA sequence data. Mycological Research 105: 773–82.

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.

Other web pages about this species

Institució Catalana d’Història Natural (Spain)

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