Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A colorful fungus

with 28 comments

probably Ganoderma lucidum or curtisii

On a fallen tree trunk in Great Hills Park on October 6th I found an attractive fungus I don’t recall seeing before. It turns out not to be edible, but it does have appetizing colors, don’t you think?

From looking at the photograph, Texas mushroom experts David and Patricia Lewis tell me that the fungus is probably Ganoderma lucidum or the very similar G. curtisii. According to the relevant Wikipedia articleGanoderma lucidum has “a worldwide distribution in both tropical and temperate geographical regions,” and it has long been used in Oriental medicine.


I’m attending the Native Plant Society of Texas symposium all day today. You’re welcome to leave comments, but I may be late in replying.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 17, 2015 at 4:28 AM

28 Responses

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  1. At first blush, and this shows my eyesight is not what it used to be, I thought the innards looked like the filling for pecan pie!

    Susan Scheid

    October 17, 2015 at 12:06 PM

  2. The photo is really fascinating and the information is very interesting.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 17, 2015 at 1:45 PM

  3. Fungi take the best photos … It certainly doesn’t look edible 😄


    October 17, 2015 at 3:38 PM

  4. La foto es perfecta, maravillosa!

  5. At first it didn’t look very appetizing to me but then I imagined it as a melting chocolate and nut mixture and the appeal instantly shot up! I agree with another reader that it looks a bit like pecan pie filling. Mmm. Actually, Steve, I find it very interesting how my culture is not very familiar with the uses of fungi for eating and medicinal properties. Who knows what delicacies and magical healers are living in my own garden! I’m only game to eat mushrooms I buy from the shop. Many of the poisonous ones do resemble edible kinds though. A scrumptious shot. 😉


    October 17, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    • Visually scrumptious is how I found it, but several of you have switched over to cuisine, in which realm you’ve imagined some savory treats. Pecans are appropriate because they’re native right here in Austin, and we’ve occasionally gone out with bags and gathered some. I wouldn’t risk eating mushrooms similarly gathered, with one exception, which doesn’t look like anything else that grows here:


      As for the medicinal uses of fungi, I have the impression that English-speaking nations are way behind the Chinese and some other Asian cultures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 17, 2015 at 11:35 PM

  6. This is the first time I’ve looked at one of your photos and found myself unable to say anything better than, “Eeewwwww.”

    The photo’s great, which is part of the problem. It shows this thing in all its distasteful glory. I don’t mind spiders, snakes, bugs, and most larvae, but this is a fungi too far. On the other hand, I can understand why you’d photograph it. It’s an unusual subject, and besides — things like this need to be documented, just in case the made-for-tv horror film writers need a little inspiration.


    October 17, 2015 at 7:39 PM

    • As I see it, that exclamation used on rare occasions is fine; call it a case of “Eeewwwww the right thing.” I certainly like your description of it as being depicted “in all its distasteful glory.” I imagine people who specialize in fungi see sights like this fairly often and have gotten past any revulsion that some of the rest of us might feel. Just call me Mr. Intrepid Photographer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 17, 2015 at 11:45 PM

    • I’m with you, Shoreacres. It reminded me of several things. None pleasant.


      October 18, 2015 at 3:05 PM

  7. Cool, sort of looks like a chocolate dessert. Hope you enjoyed the symposium!

    Birder's Journey

    October 17, 2015 at 9:43 PM

  8. I love finding these-aka lacquer polypores. Most of these shelf fungi are not necessarily inedible in terms of being poisonous but more their fibrousness…like chewing wood. I have read that and have not tried it. This one is a most interesting shape.

    Steve Gingold

    October 18, 2015 at 3:30 AM

    • In a Texas mushroom book I read a little about the difficulty of chewing this type of mushroom, which surprised me, because I wouldn’t have thought that from the appearance. I also realized that if Chinese medicine uses Ganoderma lucidum, then it’s not poisonous.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2015 at 6:39 PM

  9. Pity it isn’t edible, but it *is* highly photogenic.


    October 18, 2015 at 9:41 PM

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