Branched oyster - Pleurotus cornucopiae

Main features

  • Fruits Summer to Autumn

  • Grows on dead or dying deciduous wood, especially Elm and Beech

  • Smells pleasant and sometimes a hint of aniseed

  • Cap cream to light grey-brown, maturing to pale cream

  • Cap between 5-15cm and has a funnel-like depression in mature specimens

  • Stem up to 5cm and roughly central 

  • Stems tend to join other fruits' stems at base

  • Gills start off white to cream, darker cream when older

  • The gills run deeply decurrently down the stem

  • Flesh is white to pale cream

  • Spore print is white to cream

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Branched Oyster - Pleurotus cornucopiae

Edible mushroom - novice

Other common names: Branching Oyster

 

Scientific name meaning: The genus name comes from the Greek Pleura, meaning "a rib" "the side", and in reference to how the stem is at the side of the mushroom. Cornucopiae is from the Latin Cornu, meaning a horn, in reference to this mushroom's shape

Season - when will I find it? Summer to Autumn
 

Habitat - where will I find it? Grows on the wood of dead or dying  deciduous trees, especially Elm or Beech

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: The Branched Oyster is a saprobic mushroom living on dead or dying deciduous wood. It fruits in clumps

Cap: The smooth cap is between 5-15cm across and can be cream coloured to light grey-brown. They usually mature to a pale cream.

As the fruit matures, the cap forms a deepening depression, like a funnel

Gills: The gills start off white to cream, sometimes a little pinkish, turning darker cream with age. They are deeply decurrent (running right down the stem)

Flesh: White to pale cream

Stem: Is more central than other oyster mushrooms, and is up to 5cm long. It is 1-2.5cm wide. The stems of a group of fruits often meet at their base

Smell: Pleasant mushroomy smell. Sometimes a hint of aniseed

Spore colour: White or pale cream

Possible lookalikes Could be confused with other edible oyster mushrooms

Use as a food A good tasting mushroom that works well in soups, stews and other mushroom dishes

Use in herbal medicine The Branched Oyster is currently being researched into its use in cases of hypertension

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards None known

Importance to other species Provides food for a the larvae of a number of fly species. Worth remembering when harvesting. Younger, fresher specimens tend to have less livestock inside! 

Also a food source of slugs

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!