Dryad’s Saddle: A Fascinating Fungus

Spending time in the woods is my way of relaxing. One of my favorite aspects in nature to photograph is fungus. I love to photograph mushrooms; they just amaze me. Walking through the woods the other day I came across the beginning sprouts of a Dryad’s Saddle.

The Dryad’s Saddle is a fungus. The correct terminology for the Dryad’s Saddle is a Polyporus squamosus. The fungus has also been referred to as the Pheasant’s Back mushroom due to the appearance resembling a pheasant. (Personally, I do not see the comparison).

The word Dryad actually has a root in Greek mythology. As the myth goes, the Dryads could actually ride the mushroom. The shy, legendary Dryad is a female tree nymph or tree spirit; the supernatural being is tied to their tree homes. As a writer, I love when fungus or other aspects of nature has a connection with old myths or folklores. My imagination can run wild with these types of descriptions.

The Dryad’s Saddle mushroom will grow in dead logs or tree stumps. The fungus usually is connected at the base or inside an indentation in the tree. However, others have been spotted right on the ground. The ones on the ground are usually a single mushroom. The Dryad’s Saddle is a common sight throughout North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia.  I am amazed that this fungus is known throughout the world, not just here in Michigan. The first description of the Dryad’s Saddle was by William Hudson who was a British botanist dates back to 1778,

The body of the Dryad’s Saddle when fully grown can bracket outward into almost tiers. The tiers are close together and start out as thick, short tubes. The tiers have squamules which are like scales on the top layer of the mushroom. Depending on the area, the colors can vary from white, cream or yellowish.

Dryad's Saddle

(Fully grown Dryad’s Saddle from last summer).

As the Dryad’s Saddle continue to grow the upper body can expand out to approximately 20 inches. The Dryad’s Saddle is an edible mushroom. I have not tried to eat this type of mushroom. I tend not to cook anything unless I know exactly what I am doing. Yes, I fear food poisoning.

So the next time, you are wandering through the woods look around for a Dryad’s Saddle. The beautiful mushroom may actually be ridden in on a tree nymph.

Until next time…peace.

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