Hard, usually flat, zoned bracket fungus; reddish brown, shiny top. Grows at the base of living and dead deciduous trees or around stumps. May–November. Cap shelflike, semicircular; dark red to dark brown, lighter toward the margin; texture hard, shiny, often zoned. Pores circular to angular; whitish to brown. Stalk rarely present. Spore print brown. Spores magnified are elliptical, with double wall. When young and fresh, ling chih looks varnished, often with striking color bands of red, yellow, and white.
Lookalikes: Other Ganoderma species. The resinous polypore (Ischnoderma resinosum) exudes amber-colored droplets of moisture when young.
Habitat and Conservation
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..