Berkeley's Polypore
(Bondarzewia berkeleyi)
Immature Berkeley's Polypore, sculpture

Berkeley's Polypore, Immature

Sculpture, acrylic paint by "Wildman"

This is a huge polypore that can sometimes weigh 50 lbs. It usually has several broad convex to flattened caps, often depressed in the center, 3 to 10 inches, across, creamy white to yellowish brown, with concentric dull orange-brown bands.
Berkeley's Polypore Cap

Berkeley's Polypore Cap

Note the dark orange interior and the light orange rim.

The white flesh of mature specimens is tough and leathery. The pores under the cap are large enough to see.
Berkeley's Polypore from below

Berkeley's Polypore Cap, from below

Note the large pores.

The spore print is white.

The knobby, yellowish, rooting stalk is 2-4 inches long, 1-1/4 to 2 inches thick.

Berkeley's Polypore, Mature

Berkeley's Polypore, Mature

Notice the dull orange color and darker, concentric bands.

People sometimes confuse this mushroom with the chicken mushroom, but the latter is bright orange and sulfur yellow.

Berkeley's Polypore, detail

Berkeley's Polypore, Mature, detail

This mushroom grows from the roots, sometimes buried, of oak and other deciduous trees in much of North America, especially the East. Most common in the summer, it sometimes persists into the fall.
Berkeley's Polypore, Mature

Berkeley's Polypore, Mature

Note that this specimen, arising from buried tree roots, is flatter and rounder than the mature specimen above, arising from the base of a tree.

Way too tough and bitter to eat when mature, it's edible when very young, when it resembles a lump with the finger-like projections that will become the caps. Any part you can pinch through with your fingernails is edible, although most mushroom hunters discard it as inferior.
Young Berkeley's Polypore

Young Berkeley's Polypore

The bulges around the periphery are tender enough to cut, marinate, and cook, the central section is tough and woody.

But you can make it taste good by marinating in oil and vinegar with spices, and baking it, then pressing out the excessive oil with paper towels.

When my then-girlfriend perpared this mushroom for me, she forgot to follow my instructions, and served it to me without pressing out the oil. It was like drinking a quarter of cup of olive oil with dinner, and my nauseated stomach felt like it was going to explode from bloating for half the night.

She apologized for her carelessness, and I forgave her, but the next time I found Berkeley's polypore and she prepared it, she repeated the mistake, with the same results.

Now I just have to smell Berkeley's polypore, and I beegin to feel sick to my stomach. But the following year, the same girlfriend didn't fare very well when I served her other wild mushrooms. Click here to find out what happened.
Now I just have to smell Berkeley's polypore, and I begin to feel sick to my stomach. But the following year, the same girlfriend didn't fare very well when I served her other wild mushrooms. Click here to find out what happened.
Nausea

Berkeley's Polypore Recipes