Sulphur Fungus (Laetiporus sulphureus)

Walking north into downtown Van Nuys I spotted this amazing example of a sulphur fungus growing in the crook of a tree. It was so brightly colored it almost look artificial. Such a fungus doesn’t bode well for the health of the tree as it is a sign of internal decay, but it is still a striking bit of nature right here in the city.

Sulphur Fungus  (Laetiporus sulphureus), Van Nuys, California

Photos: Douglas E. Welch

Sulphur Fungus  (Laetiporus sulphureus), Van Nuys, California Sulphur Fungus  (Laetiporus sulphureus), Van Nuys, California

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Laetiporus sulphureus is a species of bracket fungus (fungus that grows on trees) found in Europe and North America. Its common names are crab of the woodssulphur polyporesulphur shelf, and chicken of the woods. Its fruit bodies grow as striking golden-yellow shelf-like structures on tree trunks and branches. Like other bracket fungi, they may last many years and fade to pale grey or brown. The undersurface of the fruit body is made up of tubelike pores rather than gills.

Laetiporus sulphureus is a saprophyte and causes brown cubical rot in the heartwood of trees on which it grows. Unlike many bracket fungi, it is ediblewhen young.

The cap is small and knob-shaped, overlapping in an irregular pattern. Wide, shaped like a fan and attached direct to the trunk of a tree, it has a shelf-like appearance and is sulphur-yellow to bright orange in colour and has a suedelike texture. When it is old the cap fades to tan or white. The shelves often grow in overlapping clumps, and each one may be anywhere from 5 to 60 cm (2 to 24 in) in diameter and 4 cm (1.4 in) thick.[3] The fertile surface is sulphur-yellow with small pores or tubes and has a white spore print.[4] —

More information on Sulphur Fungus (Laetiporus sulphureus):
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Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas