Massive mushroom found

  • Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Photo Provided Mark Arena placed a baseball cap beside the giant mushroom.

Clemson Extension horticulturalist Mark Arena found the unexpected on a recent outing in the Francis Marion National Forest: a Berkeley’s polypore mushroom.

“I’ve never seen one in my 10 years of doing these hunts,” he said. “I’ve shown it to a lot of people here, and it’s just very unusual.”

The specimen weighs 28 Lbs., considerably larger than the majority of the species that range from 15 to 30 Lbs., Arena said. Its huge size can be attributed to the heavy rainfall and the large size of the infection in the tree on which it grew.

Arena found the mushroom four weeks ago. He checked back once per week for mold that indicated the mushroom was done growing. After finding mold on his last visit, he harvested the foul-smelling fungus.

“The smell was so pungent that I had to roll down all of the windows on the way home,” he said with a laugh. “They’re technically edible if you’re cautious, but I’m not going to be the one to taste it.”

Berkeley’s polypores are both decomposers and parasitic, rare for a mushroom. Arena has another use in mind, porch décor.

“When it dries out, it loses 80 percent of its weight and makes for an interesting outdoor art piece. It’s a pretty good conversation starter.”

People who find a Berkeley’s polypore in their yard should immediately contact the International Society of Arboriculture at www.isa-arbor.com or they could be at risk of a fallen tree.

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