Name: Schizophyllum commune
Citation: Observ. mycol. (Havniae) 1: 103 (1815)
Deprecated Synonyms: Daedalea commune (Fr.) P. Kumm., Merulius communis (Fr.) Spirin & Zmitr., Agaricus alneus L., Merulius alneus (L.) J.F. Gmel., Apus alneus (L.) Gray, Agaricus alneus Reichard, Merulius alneus (Reichard) Schumach., Schizophyllum alneum (L.) Kuntze, Agaricus multifidus Batsch, Schizophyllum multifidum (Batsch) Fr., Schizophyllum commune var. multifidum (Batsch) Cooke
Misspellings: Schizophyllum alneus (L.) Kuntze
Common Split Gill (Schizophyllum commune)
This organism is perhaps the most widespread gilled mushroom in the world. The cap is 1-4.5cm wide and usually a shell or fan shape with a gray to whitish surface. Dry and covered by thin fine hairs. The flesh is thin and leathery. Gill like folds are split lengthwise and many times serrated or torn. Gills produce basidospores, and the reason they appear to be split is because they often dry out and rehydrate many times throughout the growing season. This causes opening and closing of the split gills. The fruiting bodies that are produced each year because it is able to dry and rehydrate. Sporulating fruiting bodies can even be found in the middle of winter. Stalk is usually absent or very short. White spore print. Spores are 5-7.5 × 2-3 micrometers. Fruiting can be solitary or in clusters on decaying hardwoods throughout the world. This fungus uses enzymes to decay the lignin in the wood causing “white rot”. This is because the cellulose left behind on the decaying wood is white. Non-edible for most, but often eaten in Malaysia.
It is known that there is a single widespread species of Schizophyllum commune because worldwide samples of the fungus were able to produce fertile offspring with each other as long as they were different mating types. This was shown by John Raper at Harvard University in the 1950s.
There have been rare cases of this fungus causing infection in immunodeficient persons. Fruiting bodies formed through the soft palate of a child’s mouth in one case.
Get some standard format, such as that in Ian Gibson, MatchMaker:
LATIN NAME Schizophyllum commune Fr. Syst. Myc. 1: 330. 1821
ENGLISH NAME split-gill, common porecrust
NOTES Features include 1) fan-shaped whitish hairy caps that are scattered in groups, rows, or fused clusters on hardwood, 2) tough flesh, and 3) well-spaced white gills with edges that appear split or grooved lengthwise. RANGE It has been found in BC, OR, WA, ID, AB, MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK, AR, AL, AZ, CA, CT, DC, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NH, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, (Ginns(5)). It is also found in Europe.
CAP 1-4cm, fan-shaped (or vase-shaped if stem central), margin usually lobed and inrolled in dry weather; white to grayish white, gray, or sometimes brownish gray when wet; dry, densely hairy, (Arora), 0.5-5cm in diameter, up to 0.2cm thick, “generally gregarious, often imbricate, effused-reflexed to laterally stipitate”, margin wavy, lobed or incised; whitish to gray or gray-brown; matted-tomentose, mealy, or hirsute, (Ginns(4))
FLESH “tough, leathery, thin”; “pallid or grayish”, (Arora)
GILLS “radiating from point of attachment, well-spaced”; “white to grayish; edges appearing split or grooved lengthwise (i.e., cuplike in cross section), rolling back in dry weather”, (Arora), split, brittle, waxy; pale tan; smooth, (Ginns(4))
STEM “absent or present only as narrowed basal point of attachment”, (Arora), up to 0.7cm long and 0.3cm wide, generally round in cross-section, (Ginns(4))
ODOR pleasant (Phillips), sourish, like Heterobasidion annosum, mild, (Breitenbach)
TASTE pleasant (Phillips), sourish, like Heterobasidion annosum, mild, (Breitenbach)
EDIBILITY too small and tough to be of value, but some natives of Madagascar sometimes chew them, (Arora)
HABITAT scattered “or in groups, rows, or fused clusters on hardwood sticks, stumps, logs, etc.”, (Arora), on wood of a broad range of species, (Ginns(4)), spring, summer, fall, and even warm spells in winter, (Miller)
SPORE DEPOSIT white (Arora)
MICROSCOPIC spores 3-4(6) x 1-1.5(3) microns, cylindric, smooth, (Arora), spores 6-8(9) x 2-2.4(2.8) microns, cylindric with broadly rounded ends in face view, adaxially flattened to slightly concave or basally bent in side view, smooth, thin-walled, inamyloid; basidia 4-spored, 20-25 × 4-6 microns, narrowly clavate, (Ginns(4)), pleurocystidia and cheilocystidia not seen; basidia with clamps, some septa in cap cuticle with clamps, (Breitenbach)
NAME ORIGIN means ‘common’
SOURCES Ginns(4), Ginns(5), Arora(1), Phillips(1), Lincoff(2), Lincoff(1), Miller(14), Schalkwijk-Barendsen(1), Kibby(1), Bessette(2), Barron(1), Breitenbach(3), Bacon(1), Buczacki(1), Desjardin(6), Siegel(2)
FAMILY Schizophyllaceae of Order Agaricales
A very interesting read on this one.
everywhere but Antarctica, the ultimate cool climate, but that is more because of the lack of trees/wood than the cold per se.
It is the most popular market species in Burma, and is also commonly eaten and even cultivated in other tropical areas. The fact that the fruit bodies are so tough is what makes it a good food for the tropics…it doesn’t rot!
One must cook it for a long time in an acid broth to get it tenderized. It is a good source of both carbs and proteins and most certainly fiber, too! Keep chewin’…
We Anglos and North Americans are not so currently dependent upon alternative food sources to have bothered to make this a locally popular edible species. Nonetheless, it IS an edible species, with proper preparation, and is not toxic.
Inhaling spores can create illnesses and sinus infections though, so perhaps best to keep it out of our enclosed kitchens.
As one of the most widespread and adaptable of all of the fungal species, it treats humans as just another food source to be exploited, especially in immuno-compromised individuals.
Sometimes we eat the fungi, and sometimes, they eat us.
Although I’ve read on many websites that Schizopyllum commune is the most widespread basidiomycete, I have never seen it in the United Kingdom. Is this just my lack of observation, or is it not found in wet, cool places?
That having been said, I’ve seen it everywhere I’ve travelled in the tropics.