Giant Polypore - Meripilus giganteus

Main features

  • Found on the base of dead, weak or dying broadleaf trees, especially Beech

  • Has a large cap reaching 50 to 80cm

  • Cap resembles and upside down can-can skirt and has bands of different shades of brown

  • Cap is fleshy 

  • Has white pores turning brown then black when bruised

  • No real discernible stem

  • Flesh smells mildly mushroomy

  • Flesh is white and resembles cooked chicken breast

  • Spores are white

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Giant Polypore - Meripilus giganteus

Edible mushroom - novice/intermediate

Other common names: Blackening Polypore, Black Staining Polypore

 

Scientific name meaning: Meripilus comes from the Greek Meros, meaning a part, and the Latin Pil/Pile meaning a cap or covering. This essentially means the cap is made of many parts. Giganteusis from the Greek Gigantos, meaning a Giant, in reference to the size of this mushroom's fruit body

Season - when will I find it? Summer to Autumn
 

Habitat - where will I find it? At the base of broadleaf trees or their stumps. Sometimes seeming to appear in grass, but actually emerging from a root under the earth. Prefers Beech, but can be found on Oak and other deciduous trees, rarely on conifers

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: Giant Polypore is parasitic and saprobic. It will feed saprobicly once the host tree has died. It grows on dead, dying or weak broadleaf trees, especially Beech, and rarely coniferous hosts. The fruit bodies look like an inverted can-can skirt. 

Cap: Size is between 50 and 80cm, sometimes larger, and have many piled layers. The cap looks like an inverted can-can skirt. . It has bands of different shades of brown, and is thinks and fleshy

Pores: The pore surface is white and the pores often too small to see with the naked eye. The pore surface turns brown then black when bruised

Stem: No real discernible stem

Flesh: White and fibrous, resembling cooked chicken breast. Bruises brown turning black

Smell: Mildly mushroom

Spore colour: White

Possible lookalikes Could be confused with Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa), but this prefers Oak, is smaller, does not change colour upon bruising, and is also edible. Also, some confusion could occur with older specimens of Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus). Again, this does not turn brown to black when bruised and younger fruit bodies are yellow/orange

Use as a food Giant Polypore has a rich poultry-like flavour and texture. It can be used be included into dishes or used as a feature on a dish.

Only young, fresh specimens should be used for eating. Older specimens are tough and acidic.

See Hazards regarding other consumption warnings

Use in herbal medicine Some cytotoxic activity on mouse cancer cells has been seen

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

Hazards This mushrooms causes gastric upset in some people. A tolerance test should be carried out before consuming for the first time.

Because Giant Polypore grows close to the ground, care should be taken not to harvest in areas where dogs may foul

Importance to other species Unknown. Please let us know if you know of any

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!

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