Dryad’s Saddle

Pheasant's Back Mushroom

Cerioporus squamosus

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Dryad’s Saddle, also known as Pheasant’s Back Mushroom, is a distinctive fungus that grows in shelf-like formations, predominantly on decaying logs and stumps. It’s named for the mythical dryads (tree nymphs) who, in tales, might use these large fungi as seats, and its patterns somewhat resemble the plumage of a pheasant.

Dryad’s Saddle

Common Name
Dryad’s Saddle

Other Names

Pheasant’s Back Mushroom

Latin Name

Cerioporus squamosus

Distribution

This mushroom is native to North America and Europe

Appearance

Its cap is broad and fan-shaped, with brown, scale-like patterns on a creamy white background, resembling the back of a pheasant. The underside reveals white pores instead of gills.

Size

The cap can range from about 10 cm to 60 cm in diameter.

Habitat

Predominantly found on decaying hardwood logs and stumps, particularly on elm and maple.

Diet

Saprotrophic, deriving nutrients from breaking down decaying wood.

Lifecycle

Like other fungi, the Dryad’s Saddle reproduces via spores. The spores germinate and establish a network of mycelium. When conditions are favorable, this mycelium produces the fruiting bodies (the mushrooms we see). The fruiting bodies release spores, which spread and continue the lifecycle.

Defense Mechanisms

While the Dryad’s Saddle is edible when young and tender, its tough, leathery texture in maturity deters many from consuming it. As always, proper identification is crucial before any wild mushroom consumption.

Ecological Importance

As a saprotroph, the Dryad’s Saddle plays a crucial role in breaking down and decomposing deadwood, recycling nutrients back into the ecosystem.

Conservation Status

The Dryad’s Saddle is common and not considered threatened.
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