This page is used to feature mushrooms that are prevalent for the particular time of the year or, during the winter months, to feature some of the less desirable or hard to find mushrooms. To see some of our previous stars follow this link to an index of previously featured mushrooms.
December's Mushroom of the Month
The Artist's Conk
The artist’s conk, like many polypores, is a perennial. Every spring-summer-fall season, it adds a new ring of varying widths depending on the weather. Like most mushrooms it does better in wet seasons.
The artist’s conk is often seen in farmers' markets and craft shows as one can readily draw, etch or paint on its undersurface, the pore surface. There is a very large (~30 inches wide) specimen at the University of Michigan Botanical Gardens with a very elaborate drawing. The mushroom must be properly dried and the pore surface protected from random scratches for it to serve as a medium. One way to dry the mushroom is in a frost free freezer; this method has the advantage of killing any critters inhabiting the mushroom.
The gray to brown artist’s conk grows as a shelf-like or hoof-like mushroom usually on dead hardwood trunks and stumps. It has a very hard, horny crust that is often cracked, ridged, and lumpy. The mushroom can range from 2 to 30 inches wide and ½ to 4 inches thick. The pore surface is white and the pores are small enough to require a loop to see. Generally there is not a stalk. The spore print is brown to reddish brown. The mushroom is very woody and hence not edible.