Spring and autumn is a great time to hunt mushrooms. The only problem is that many mushrooms are poisonous. And to differ edible one from the one that will get you in a trouble can be not an easy task, especially for a beginner.
But that’s not the case with Dryad’s saddle, which is very easy to identify and whose lookalikes could be not edible (due to tough texture), but not poisonous. And because it grows on fallen trees, it’s very easy to spot. You’ve probably seen it before while walking in the park or even in your backyard (like I did just one week ago).
Hope you won’t miss it next time after reading this article.
Disclaimer: Don’t eat mushroom, if you not 100% sure. I don’t take responsibility for your ability to identify dryad’s saddle correctly.
Identification and ecology
Dryads saddle is a species of bracket fungus, which usually growth on dead wood, and more rarely on living trees all over the world (North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe). Cap is fan shaped up to 12 inches in diameter and up to 2 inches thick, white to beige in color with beige to brown scales, what makes it to look like pheasant’s back or hawk's wing. It has a short stem attached to the edge of a cap, rather than in the center.
There is another mushroom that is known under hawks wing mushroom - Sarcodon imbricatus. But this fungus growth on ground under firs, has round cap, its stem is located in the center and it has teeth hemynophore instead of tubes.
The underneath side of cap is all in pores or actually little tubes (you can see it clearly, if you cut the cap). Spores are formed in these tubes. Flesh of mushroom is white to off-white and don’t change a color when exposed to air. It also has distinct smell of watermelon rind or cucumber.
Fun fact: The name dryad’s saddle came from Greek mythology. Greeks believed that tiny tree nymphs – dryads, were riding on this mushrooms.
Dryad’s saddle toughens when get older, so pick only young fruit bodies. You should easily to slice it with your knife, or it means they’re too old to be eaten. This mushroom will reappear on the same place year after year until it consumes all wood it grows on.
Most often Polyporus squamosus can be found in May and June, same time morels grow. But also can appear in autumn (September/October).
Dryad’s saddle lookalikes
Let’s clarify that there is no poisonous bracket mushrooms, but very few of them are edible, dew to very tough texture. So there is no dangerous look alike for Polyporus squamsus. But an important thing to remember is that Dryad saddle has pores (tubes) on the underneath side (hymenophore). If it has gills, like a portabella mushroom, it’s definitely better to stay away from it.
Dryad’s saddle medicinal properties
Many people are asking about medicinal properties of this shelf mushroom, though they are yet to be discovered. There is no traditional medicinal use for Polyporus squamosus as for many other bracket mushrooms.
Dryad’s saddle cooking
You can cook Pheasantback mushroom in any way you do other mushrooms. You can dry them, use for stock or in the soup, deep fry or pan fry.
But my favorite (and very easy) way is to sauté them with onions and herbs in white wine and sprinkled with Parmesan before serving. If you want to check the complete recipe, click here.
Hope, after reading my article, you want miss this beautiful and delicious mushroom again.