Dryad’s Saddle

Damp weather is annoying for humans, but good for fungi, like this Dryad’s Saddle, a common bracket fungus on dead and decaying wood.

Photos: © Natural England/Paul Glendell

Scientific name: Polyporus squamosus (also Cerioporus squamosus – new taxonomy not yet confirmed)

Other common names: Pheasant’s Back, Hawk’s Wing

What to look for:

Appearance: Fan-shaped, scale-covered yellow-brown cap up to 60 cm wide, starting convex and then flattening and sometimes slightly convex with maturity. The edge of the cap is often a little inrolled. The stout stem, which is up to 10 cm long, tapers from top to bottom, and is dark to black at the base. The pore surface varies from white to cream in colour.
Spores: White spore print.
Where: On dead wood, sometimes on wounds, of broadleaf trees, especially Sycamore and Horse Chestnut. It has a wide distribution, across Europe, Australia, Asia and North America.
When: From spring to summer.

For more fancifully minded folk, it’s easy to imagine wood nymphs riding the brackets of Dryad’s Saddle as they climb up the trunk or fallen branch of a tree. This is a large and common fungus of broadleaf dead or wounded wood, especially on Sycamore and Horse Chestnut, and also Willow, Poplar and Walnut. It can be found singly or in small clusters, and often quickly decays as it’s a favourite food of insect larvae. For specimens that do last, the distinctive brown-coloured scales fade or disappear, leaving a much paler cap.

Did you know…?

…Dryad’s Saddle is edible, but is better when young, given its tendency to become somewhat maggot-ridden with age!

More information and references:

Buczacki, S., Shields, C., Ovenden, D., 2012. Collins Fungi Guide. Collins, London.

Published: July 2016
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: © Natural England/Paul Glendell