The oaks have tongues

We’re on an organised fungus foray with the Devon Fungus Group when our leader spots a Beefsteak Fungus, Fistulina hepatica, on a fallen oak tree. A quick slice with his knife and it’s being handed around our group.

Beefsteak Fungus - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

What an extraordinary thing. I have seen it before, I photographed it as a child (I’ve still got the photographic slide somewhere) and I’ve cooked it and tried eating it as an adult. It’s too jelly-like for my taste or culinary ability.

The last time I saw it was in Wistman’s Wood, where dwarf oaks abound:

It also grows at Yarner Wood.

It’s a very unusual species, in that you can interpret it as a large collection of separate fungal fruiting bodies rather than just one. When it gets older you can see it is made of a collection of individual fruit-body tubes. It’s a composite fungus. How cool is that?

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