Bracket Fungi

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

bracket fungi a term which applies to various fungi which grow directly out of, for example, tree trunks, rather than on stems, which they lack completely or have only in a rudimentary form. Typically they form dense ranks of shelflike (bracket-like) protuberances. See sulphur shelf and beefsteak fungus for the best-known edible examples; and polypores for some others.

Almost all the fungi in this group live by eating wood. On the debit side they are the principal source of damage to timber; but on the credit side they can claim to be vital to the well-being of forests and woods—which would clog up completely if these fungi were not present to devour fallen logs and branches etc. The very few which are counted as edible provide a means for human beings to eat wood at one remove.