Key to Gilled Mushrooms Key
This is a key to gilled mushrooms, that is, mushrooms having a definite cap with a fertile surface consisting of gills. The fruiting body usually also has a stem, although that may be lateral or absent (usually, then, the mushroom is growing from wood). You can use this key to identify mushrooms that you find.
Fertile surface usually a layer of vertical tubes, of which the mouths are visible as pores on the underside of the cap or shelf.
Fruiting bodies usually tougher or harder than the "normal" gilled mushrooms, being leathery, corky, or woody. But they can be quite tender while actively growing
Once grown, they do not decay easily, remaining on the substrate for months or years
They often grow on wood, although a few are terrestrial (even those are usually growing on buried wood)
Fruiting body is usually a flat shelf, or hoof-shaped, protruding directly from the substrate, although sometimes it may have a short stalk.
Some forms never grow away from the substrate at all, so that all that is visible of the fruiting body are the pores.
Sometimes the pores are so minute that the fertile surface seems solid, until you look closely
Growing on ground
Big Terrestriopolypore Tribe
Large (6-18" or more across), compound fruiting body with irregular caps, usually right next to a tree or even surrounding it
Flesh flexible, tough but not hard
- Fruiting body composed of many small caps, each a few inches across at most
Cap various shades of brown or gray on top, white underneath
Causes a white rot
After so much practice at distinguishing things that look similar but are not related, it's almost a disappointment to find out that the two genera in this taxon, Grifola and Meripilus, probably are closely related, differing microscopically only in the presence or absence of clamps in the generative hyphae
Luckily for pothunters, Meripilus is edible, as I'm sure that it has been mistaken for Grifola frondosa many times, and collected and eaten as such (see comments under Grifola frondosa for more details)
Narrow down your identification:
- Pores large enough to be easily distinguishable, not blackening when cut or in age
Caps can be whitish to tan, but more often dark brown or grey