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goldfinch

A black, "lacquered" conk

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Being fairly new to mushrooms, this one really surprised me. I thought I was looking at a pile of melted plastic at first. I can't find anything similar in my books, except perhaps Ganoderma lucidum's passing resemblance in terms of the lacquered look. Of course it does not seem to be that. The one I took was detached from the tree already but seems to be in good condition, it's spore printing now. Though I think it's pretty clear what the colour will be. Intriguingly the largest one has happily grown around some ivy, which I had to cut off to collect it.

The pores are extremely small but seem to be uniformly circular, unfortunately I have nothing to magnify it with. Does anyone have any idea what I'm looking at? I'm still half convinced it's not even a mushroom and I'm being daft.

 

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Interesting find. I have seen Mushroom Observer posts featuring very dark-capped "varnished polypores". Most often, these have observations have come from tropical/subtropical locations; for example https://mushroomobserver.org/369315?q=12neJ. Here's an unusual observation from NE North America  https://mushroomobserver.org/342124?q=12ncm. Note that the proposed ID is only at the level of genus + section, with relatively low confidence. 

The problem with ID with the fungus (mushroom) seen here is compounded by the dark pore surface. Genera Ganoderma and Fomitopsis each feature white/pale pore surface. So, I'm wondering if the one seen here may be somewhat past prime with darkened pore surface...? 

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Those Mushroom Observer posts do look very similar, particularly the latter one. It was sitting out overnight and dried out a little, and has lost its sheen and turned something of a browny-black. Around the edge it has stayed darker. The pore surface still seems to be black, but has a noticeable reddish-brown sheen to it in the right light. It certainly resembles your latter link, at least from the top.

It didn't seem to drop any spores (though where it contacted the paper it left brown stains), so you could well be right that it's past prime. I'll return to that spot today and see if I can collect one in better condition, as there was several on the same stump. The frosts are coming in now though and I'm unsure how that will affect things.

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There are no confident proposals for the MO observation from New York, and presumably it's been viewed by people who understand polypore taxonomy. So, I think it's reasonable to say the mushroom is either represents a species that's rare, or the mushroom is an atypical example of a common species. 

I have recently heard that the iconic species Ganoderma lucidum is now believed to occur only in the UK! As per DNA analysis, similar Ganoderma fruit bodies found  in other regions represent different species.

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Here's some better images. It's been drier the past few days, so they're looking much less black than before. Some of them have an off-white part on the underside near the base. I am starting to wonder if these are simply rotten in some way! Probably it's best to assume they're either too unusual or too damaged to identify :)

That's very interesting regarding lucidum. I hope to find it some day!

 

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That certainly seems to fit the bill! Though I can't find any photos of specimens quite as dark as this one, particularly the pores. But it does have a number of the qualities described, e.g. the pore surface looking different shades of colour depending on the viewing angle.

I know there is black locust in the area, too - I identified some seed pods there the other day, but couldn't find the tree. I wonder if I've been looking at its stump the whole time...

It also seems that P. igniarius may fit, described as frequent in one of my books.

Thanks once again for your help Dave!

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Hi goldfinch. I think Dave's suggestion is a good possibility, although your sample seems to have a smoother cap, with less cracking that is typical of P. robiniae. Your proposal of P. igniarius appears to be likely. There are numerous observations of P. igniarius in the UK on iNaturalist (there are also a few sightings of P. robiniae there as well). The ones shown at this site are very similar to yours and may also be shiny due to wetness: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36199494  These seem to have a lot lighter colored pore surface than yours, however.

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Thanks for your input Howard.

I've been scouring the Phellinus pictures on iNaturalist, but can't see anything that quite matches. I'm not very knowledgeable about polypores (this find being just the 3rd poly I've ever tried to identify!) so I'm not sure how important things like colour variations are.

Particularly the white patch at the base of some of them is throwing me off, better pictured below. It appears to have pores like the rest of the underside, but is a layer on top of the black part maybe 1mm thick. I'm wondering if it could represent new growth, with the black parts being old growth that has discoloured over time? I've noticed the white part does discolour brown/black with handling and if I run a knife over it, which might support that idea.

I have posted this specimen on iNaturalist, but nobody has tried to ID it yet: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36277152

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There are some types of polypores that annually develop new layers. In such cases the old layer(s) often decays. So, I think your hypothesis is reasonable, goldfinch. Also, I think it's not out of the question that the material showing the white pore surface represents some species other than the the dark pore surface... but I don't think so. Usually such a closely layered arrangement is the result of old/new growth of the same species. 

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