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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.

                January's Mushroom of the Month

Piptoporus betulinus: the Birch Polypore


Photo Credit: J. Marqua

The birch polypore was one of the mushrooms the Tyrolean ice man was carrying when he perished.  Experts speculate that he was using the mushroom medicinally to help with digestive problems. This fleshy polypore with a tan to whitish cap with an inrolled margin and white to brownish pores is edible though reportedly it is bitter.

The round to kidney-shaped to hoof-shaped cap ranges from 1 to 10 inches (2.5 to 25 cm.) across.  The margin of the cap is always inrolled.  The white, thick, rubbery flesh ranges from ¾ to 1 ½ inches (1.875 to 3.75 cm.) thick.  The stalk if present is rudimentary.  The odor is strong and pleasant while the taste is slightly bitter.  Piptoporus betulinus is found singly or in groups on live or dead birch trees and logs.  It is found throughout the Northern hemisphere though the American species may be distinct from the European and Asian species. The birch polypore can be found on birch throughout the year.  It is an annual, however, not a perennial.  The spore print is white.