Sunday, December 11, 2011

Split Gill Fungus

I found some wonderful fungi on a dead branch that fell out of a Tuliptree. This is a Common Split Gill Fungus, Schizophyllum commune. The literature describes it as a common fungus of worldwide distribution, but it’s something that I rarely encounter here.

The Split Gill Fungus is a type of shelf fungi. The fruiting body emerges from dead wood and develops into a horizontal fan. The gills on the lower side of the fan produce the spores. In some places the fungi emerged as scattered individuals.

In other locations, a tight mass was produced. It may just be my mood of the season, but when I see this I can’t help but think of some date based confection covered in powdered sugar.

One of the defining characters of this fungus is the thick layer of white hairs covering the upper surface. At first glance, I thought these were still wearing a covering of frost.

Even when packed tightly together, the individual fungus will spread itself in a way that facilitates the spread of the spores. They look like something you should be seeing on a coral reef instead of a dead branch.

I might have named these the Cat’s Paw Fungus. It’s not hard to imagine a cat reaching out to grab you. I’m not sure how well these fungi will fare at ground level, but their plummet from the tree certainly afforded me several moments of pleasurable observation.


  1. Hi Steve...Wow at first I thought they where covered with frost and I wondered if you was going to say what it was ....amazing and very pretty or however you describe fungi ; }!! lol

  2. Hi Grace. I think it's OK to call fungi pretty. Even so, the next time my wife comes home from having her hair done, I don't think I'll tell her she's as pretty as a Split Gill Fungus.