Public Description of Fistulina hepatica (Schaeff.) With.

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Name: Fistulina hepatica (Schaeff.) With.
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 Public Description (Default) [Edit]
 Draft For 2008/2009 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Neeraj (Private)

Description status: Approved
 (Latest review: 2012-10-29 06:16:54 CST (+0800) by jason)

Taxonomic Classification:

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Fistulinaceae

General Description:

Fistulina hepatica or beefsteak fungus or beefsteak polypore as it is commonly called is a common edible fungus in the Great Britain, but is less common in NOrth America. It is found in many parts of the world like North America, Australia and Europe. It is usually found growing on mature living oaks or chestnuts and is known to cause brown heart rot. It is a bracket fungus commonly called as beefsteak fungus or ox tongue fungus due to its striking resemblance to a chunk of fresh meat or liver. It is widely used as a substitute for meat and has been known to be used a lot by the Europeans especially the French. In the natural environment where this fungus is found it is very easy to identify this fungus as it looks like a mass of red meat sticking to a log.
Fistulina is not considered as a “true” polpore inspite its tubes being packed tightly because the tubes are discrete units like the bristles of a brush. Thus leading the “Polyporologists” to classify and give F. hepatica its own family Fistulinaceae

Diagnostic Description:

Pileus/Cap: Grows closely up to 30cm across the surface. It usually exhibits a irregular shape, but has a very wide variety of shapes like tongue shape or fan shaped.Some of them show multiple caps. The surface of the mushroom is smooth and at times velvety. It has a lobed margin and colour varies from red to reddish-orange or even liver coloured.

Pore Surface:Pore surface is white or pale pink initially but becoming reddish brown as it ages. The tubes are distinct and separate. The tubes are pale red in colour 1-1.5cm long and 2-3 per mm.

Spore Print: Pink to Pinkish Brown.

Microscopic Features: Spores 3.5-6 × 2.5-4┬Ám.

Flesh: The flesh looks like beef or liver. It exudes a blood-red liquid, the fungus smells pleasent.

Type of Rot: It causes brown heart rot in oaks and chestnuts.


Fistulina Hepatica has been found in a very wide Geographical scale from Europe to Australia to North America.


Fistulina Hepatica is a saprophytic fungus and at times parasitic on hardwood trees like Oaks and Chestnuts.

Look Alikes:

F. hepatica is a very remarkable fungus which has striking looks like a fresh slab or meat and also oozes out a liquid similar to blood when cut or sliced open.
The young ones are very distinctive and do not become tough like other polypores or bracket fungi.
F. hepatica is rarely or rather never confused with any other owing to it striking and remarkable appearance and characteristics.


This fungus is a popular edible mushroom and is said to taste very much like Red Meat and thus the name. Though many argue that the taste is sour, it still remains a popular edible fungus. It is one of only a handful of wilod mushrooms that can be eaten raw withoutmuch worry.

Before the chestnut blight wiped out most of the chestnut trees in eastern North American forests, this fungus was much more common. The fungus seems to require large chestnut trees in order to fruit.

Medicinal applications:
1)As an Antioxidizing agent:
F. hepatica is one of the very few mushrooms or the only mushroom that has been extensively investigated for its capacity to act as a free-radical scavenger or antioxidant(Ribeiro et al., 2007).

2)Antibacterial agent:
A set of Scientific studies and experiments by an Italian scientist, Coletto has divulged some astonishing results and data that F. hepatica possesses a very potent antibacterial activity against various pathogenic bacteria like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis (Coletto 1981, 1987/88), and Klebsiella pneumoniae (Coletto, 1992).
There was another research that claimed that the antibacterial activity of some metabolites of F. hepatica were comparable to Cepahlosporin.

The wood that is infected by this fungus is highly coveted by many furniture and cabinet makers. They refer to the wood as “Brown oak” due to the rich colour that the fungus imparts to the heartwood. The colour is due to the strong carbonizing activity of the fungus. The wood is used to make high-end furniture and some architectural master pieces.



2)Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora.


4)Image from


Neeraj Purushotham
University of Wisconsin La Crosse
November 2008

Description authors: Tom Volk, Neeraj (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Nathan Wilson, Jason Hollinger