Berkeley’s Polypore

Photo of Berkeley's polypore, fresh, young specimen.
Safety Concerns
Scientific Name
Bondarzewia berkeleyi

Rosettes or clusters of fleshy, cream-colored caps; pores whitish, descending the stalk. Grows on the ground near tree bases. July–October. Each cap convex or flat, becoming depressed in the center; cream-colored; texture dry, hairy or smooth, can be rough or pitted; flesh white, thick, firm, becoming tough; odor mild and earthy, becoming strong. Pores wide, angular; whitish, becoming dingy; pores descending stalk. Stalk rooting; yellowish. Spore print white. Spores magnified are round, colorless, warted.

Lookalikes: Hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa) has many smaller, grayish to brownish caps. Black-staining polypore (Meripilus sumstinei) blackens when bruised or handled. Eastern cauliflower mushroom (Sparassis spatulata) has ribbonlike folds.

Cap ("fan") width: 3–12 inches; stalk length: 2–4 inches; stalk width: 1–2 inches; entire mass can be up to 3 feet wide.
Where To Find
image of Berkeley's Polypore Distribution Map
Grows in one or more large clusters, on the ground near the bases of deciduous trees, especially oaks. Can reappear in the same spot for years.
Edible. When young and easy to cut, Berkeley’s polypore can be eaten. Cut and use the softer, outer edges of the caps (also called “leaves”). This mushroom gets tough, woody and bitter with age.
Life Cycle
This species lives as a network of cells (mycelium) within living trees as a parasite, and dead trees as a saprobe, digesting and decomposing the wood. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops the mushroom, or "fruiting body" that emerges from near the base of the tree; this is the reproductive structure. Spores are produced in pores on the undersides of the caps and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere.
When you are eating a wild mushroom for the first time, even one that is considered a choice edible, it is a good idea to sample only a small amount at first, since some people are simply allergic to certain chemicals in certain fungi. Make sure they are cooked, too.
Fungi are vitally important for a healthy ecosystem. This fungus feeds on dead or dying trees, decomposing them as they go. This cleans the forest and helps nutrients to cycle back into the soil — an unglamorous but vital role in the ecosystem.
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Similar Species
About Mushrooms in Missouri

Mushrooms are a lot like plants, but they lack chlorophyll and have to take nutrients from other materials. Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals. They are in a different kingdom — the fungi. Fungi include the familiar mushroom-forming species, plus the yeasts, molds, smuts, and rusts.

Always be cautious when eating edible mushrooms. Be absolutely sure of the ID, and only eat a small amount the first time you try it to avoid a reaction..