AKA Dryad’s saddle, Pheasant back
Ok it’s May and there are probably still morels about, so if you are still out looking remember to look at the dead wood as well. I should probably have mentioned this earlier but sometimes things slip my mind. This polypore can fruit with the morels.
Dryad’s saddle is a fairly common polypore that fruits during the later part morel season and through the fall, most commonly in May. It fruits on dead and dying deciduous wood. The shelf like fruiting bodies can be from 3 inchs to 2 feet wide and up to 4 inches thick at the base. I usually find them singly, but they do fruit in overlapping clusters. The pores are white becoming yellowish descending the short, thick, white stalk with a black base. The top is yellow/brown with brown scales that resemble the feathers on a pheasant’s back.
Dryad’s saddle is edible and I’ve had both good and mediocre experiences gastronomicly speaking. Perhaps the substrate makes a difference in the eating quality? These are usually very easy to clean and prepare for cooking, but large specimens can be quite tough near the base. Sometimes it’s best just to trim off the outer tender edge and toss the rest. In the kitchen treat this fungus as you would chicken of the woods (Laetiporous sp.). I think it benefits from a long, low temperature sauté or simmer. I have never tried to preserve these, but would recommend either pressure canning or cooking well and freezing.
Dryad’s saddle is a good fungus for beginning mycophogists as long as you know what a polypore is. Once you’ve seen it dryad’s saddle is quite distinctive and if you make a mistake I don’t know of any poisonous polypores. They’re out now, so go have a look.
Field mycologist and long standing member of the Asheville Mushroom
(Image by: Jackie Schieb)