Continuing with my early season wild food foraging, today I found a half dozen of these lovely dryad’s saddles, a.k.a., polyporous squamosus. This polypore is a bracket or shelf mushroom that grows on the sides of hardwoods. It grows on deadwood attached to live trees, and I found these on two mature sugar maples near a river, growing out of cracks in the trees where old wood had died and turned yellow-black.
The dryad’s saddle grows huge and is edible but quickly becomes too tough–even woody–to be enjoyable. But when found young, with pliant, rubbery flesh, it can be cut into thin strips and fried in bacon grease to be quite delectable. All told, I harvested about five pounds today, so we will have plenty to enjoy for several meals.
There are old mushroomers and there are bold mushroomers. I intend to be an old mushroomer, and only ever hunt those that are safe, easily identified and have only non-lethal lookalikes. In fact, I strongly prefer those mushrooms that are easy to tell from anything else. And one of the beauties of the polypore family of mushrooms is they are easy to distinguish and have no known toxic species. If one isn’t edible, it will simply taste foul, or be woody or tough as old leather. This is a mushroom a novice can gather safely.