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Summary: Fomitopsis pinicola has hoof-shaped or shelf-like hard fruiting bodies with reddish or partially reddish upper surface (sometimes looking varnished), more lightly colored rounded margins, and pallid pores that do not bruise brown. This is and the most commonly collected polypore in North America (Phillips). It is also the most common conk in the Pacific Northwest (Trudell). It is found in BC, WA, OR, ID, and also AB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NWT, ON, PE, PQ, SK, YT, AK, AZ, CA, CO, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NH, NM, NV, NY, OH, PA, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WI, WV, and WY, (Gilbertson).
Cap: 5-40(75)cm broad, 3-22cm thick, knob-like at first, becoming hoof-shaped, shelf-like, or bracket-like, in outline fan-shaped to semicircular, hard and woody when old, growing margin rounded; starting as whitish, pale yellow or lilac-tinged knob, when mature "usually at least partially reddish to dark red, but sometimes brown and often rusty or blackish-brown toward the base and brightly colored (white, yellow, ochraceous, or reddish) at the margin"; developing a thin hard resinous crust that is sometimes slightly varnished, when old concentrically furrowed and/or zoned, (Arora), up to 38cm along wood, projecting 20cm, 15cm thick, usually without stem, rarely bent back from flat pore surface to form a cap, or entirely flat, applanate (flattened horizontally) to hoof-shaped; upper surface at first with a sticky reddish brown resinous layer that often persists over younger marginal areas, becoming grayish to brown or blackish; becoming bald, sometimes appearing varnished, smooth to grooved, (Gilbertson)
Flesh: corky or woody, very tough, white to pinkish-buff or yellow when young, pale brownish or straw-colored in old age; usually bruising pinkish when actively growing , (Arora), up to 12cm thick, corky to woody; cream to buff, not zoned or zoned, (Gilbertson)
Pores: 3-5 per mm, white or pale yellow becoming brownish when old, "not turning brown when scratched but sometimes bruising yellow or pinkish-lilac"; tube layers distinctly stratified, each layer 0.2-0.8cm thick, (Arora), 5-6 per mm, circular, cream, with thick entire walls; tube layers up to 6cm thick, indistinctly stratified, sometimes separated by thin flesh layer, colored as flesh, (Gilbertson)
Stem: typically absent
Chemical Reactions: flesh stains reddish to dark reddish-brown in KOH (Arora)
Odor: rather strong and fungal when fresh (Arora), of tobacco (Lincoff(1)), intensely acidic when young, (Breitenbach), citrine-like when fresh and growing (Miller)
Taste: slightly acid and bitter (Lincoff(1)), bitter (Breitenbach), none (Miller)
Microscopic: spores 5-8 x 3.5-5 microns, cylindric to elliptic, smooth, (Arora), spores 6-9 x 3.5-4.5 microns, cylindric-elliptic, smooth, inamyloid, colorless; basidia 4-spored, 17-24 x 7-8.5 microns, short-clavate, with basal clamp; cystidia up to 150 microns long, 3-10 microns wide, projecting up to 90 microns, "hyphoid, often thick-walled at the base, thin-walled toward the apex", narrowed at tip or not; hyphal system "trimitic, contextual generative hyphae thin-walled, with clamps, 2-5 microns in diam, contextual skeletal hyphae thick-walled, hyaline, [line appears to have been left out here ending description of skeletal hyphae and starting description of binding hyphae] thick-walled, nonseptate, much branched, 1.5-4 microns in diam, tramal hyphae similar", (Gilbertson)
Spore Deposit: white or pale yellowish (Arora), light yellow (Miller)
Habitat / Range
perennial, "solitary or in groups on dead trees, logs, and stumps or rarely on living trees", (Arora), on "dead conifers and occasionally causing heartrot of living conifers, a major heartrot fungus in black cherry", "also occasionally on aspen and birch", causes brown cubical rot of living and dead conifers and hardwoods, conspicuous "white mycelial felts develop in shrinkage cracks of the decayed wood", (Gilbertson), buttons forming in spring, but conks present all year round, (Miller), spores produced in fall (Bacon)
Fomitopsis ochracea Ryvarden & Stokland has been reported from Washington and Alaska by M. Beug (pers. comm.). It was described in 2008. It has an ocher band or no band (instead of red, orange, or yellow), the band chars instead of melting in a flame, the underside is ocher to yellow (instead of off-white to yellow), and the spores are narrower. "Marginally smaller than F. pinicola, it can also grow quite big, making size an unhelpful differentiating character. The top is similarly black to gray and only moderately zonate. There is no red band. If there is some coloured tissue near the edge, it does not melt, but chars when exposed to a flame. The edge may be ochre in colour, giving it the name, but it may also be quite drab and gray. The undersurface is light ochre to yellow, often staining darker yellow on handling. The pores are small and round, about 4-6/mm. The cut surface has the characteristic Fomitopsis whorls in the upper body and successive pore layers in the lower. It has a distinctive "sour" smell. During active growth the pore surface, and at times the entire conk, may exhibit dramatic guttation. Its commonest hosts are balsam fir and spruce, but proportionately it is more common on birch than F. pinicola. The original find was on poplar in Alberta. It, also, is quite variable in appearance and can present a definite puzzle for the unwary identifier. Absence of a red laccate band should usually make the determination. If still puzzled, looking at the spores with a microscope should help. The spores of F. ochracea are subglobose (almost round - about like a blown up balloon), while those of F. pinicola are more elliptical" (5.0-6.5 x 3.5-6.0 microns for F. ochracea, 5-8 x 3-4.5 for F. pinicola). Voitk(2). Other species of Fomitopsis lack the glossy resinous crust or red marginal belt, (Lincoff(2)). Fomes fomentarius [which also lacks the red marginal belt] will char if a match is held to cap surface, whereas Fomitopsis pinicola will melt, (Breitenbach). Phellinus species have brown flesh (Breitenbach). Ganoderma species are less dense, often more conspicuously varnished, and regrow annually. Heterobasidion annosum when shelf-like 1) "is usually thinner and rougher (knobby, pitted, grooved, etc.)" than F. pinicola, 2) the upper surface is usually brown to grayish-brown with a pallid margin, but is sometimes reddish-brown, 3) its flesh does not redden in KOH, and 4) it usually grows at the base of the trunk or from its roots, (Arora). Spores of H. annosum are nearly round to oval, and finely spiny (although this not always evident under light microscope).
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2021-01-16 4:52:17 AM
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