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.
Schizophyllum commune: Split-Gill
Schizophyllum commune is a very common mushroom that may be the most widespread mushroom on earth. It is found on all continents except Antarctica. Although all of our guidebooks list this mushroom as inedible because of its tough texture, it is eaten with relish in Mexico and elsewhere in the tropics. The Wikipedia author speculates that this mushroom might be popular in the tropics because fleshy mushrooms tend to rot quickly in hot weather making them difficult to get to market.
Split-gill grows on hardwood logs and branches. The whitish-hairy fan-shaped cap ranges from 3/8 to 2 inches wide and is usually attached broadly to the substrate though occasionally there is a rudimentary stalk. The whitish to grayish, wide-spaced gills radiate from the point of attachment and are often split lengthwise. The spore print is white. Split gills fruit from early spring through late fall and can be found in winter as well as they recover readily from drying or freezing. In Mushrooms Demystified Arora notes that specimens sealed in a tube in 1911 then moistened 50 years later unrolled their gills and began dropping spores! Schizophyllum commune is often used in genetic studies because it fruits readily in the laboratory.