|Major Groups > Polypores > Piptoporus betulinus|
by Michael Kuo
Anyone who has spent time in birch woods has seen Piptoporus betulinus on dead birch trees and logs, or occasionally on living trees. The species is an attractive polypore, easily recognized by its habitat on birch wood and the fact that the cap folds over to make a distinctive, smooth rim around the pore surface. The caps are whitish to brownish, and the pore surface is whitish or grayish brown. Although Piptoporus betulinus is annual and does not actually live for more than one season, its fruiting bodies are somewhat tough and are sometimes found in the next year (usually somewhat blackened).
Ecology: Saprobic and possibly parasitic on the deadwood of birch, and occasionally on living birch trees; causing a yellowish to brown cubical rot; annual but found year-round; growing alone or gregariously; occurring wherever birch trees occur naturally.
Cap: 5-25 cm; kidney-shaped in outline; broadly convex to more or less flat; growing shelf-like or hoof-like; dry; with a smooth or somewhat roughened "skin" that often peels away; whitish to pale brownish in age; the margin rolled over smoothly to form a rim around the pore surface.
Pore Surface: Whitish, aging grayish brown; with 2-4 pores per mm; tubes to 1 cm long.
Stem: Absent or rudimentary and stubby.
Flesh: White; thick; corky.
Odor and Taste: Taste slightly bitter; odor strong and pleasant.
Spore Print: White.
Microscopic Features: Spores: 3-6 x 1.5-2 µ; smooth; cylindrical to long-elliptical. Cystidia absent. Hyphal system di- to trimitic.
REFERENCES: (Bulliard, 1780) Karsten. (Fries, 1821; Saccardo, 1888; Overholts, 1953; Arora, 1986; Gilbertson & Ryvarden, 1987; Phillips, 1991/2005; Lincoff, 1992; Barron, 1999; Roody, 2003; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006; Kuo & Methven, 2010.) Herb. Kuo 09080102, 09150719.
Further Online Information:
The Ice Man's Medicine
The Tyrolean Ice Man, who was frozen and mummified in the Copper Age, 5000 years ago, had among his possessions a curious pair of hide strips that held pieces of Piptoporus betulinus. Archaeologists speculate that the Ice Man used the birch polypore for medicinal purposes.
The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology has kindly granted permission for use of the photo above. Visit the Museum's well designed and fascinating Web site to find out more about the Tyrolean Ice Man.
Photo copyright: Photo Archives of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2004, January). Piptoporus betulinus. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/piptoporus_betulinus.html