Public Description of Schizophyllum commune Fr.

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Name: Schizophyllum commune Fr.
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 Public Description (Default) [Edit]
 Draft For 2008/2009 Eol University Species Pages Initiative By Thomas Bauer (Private)
 Draft For Macrofungi Of The Pacific Northwest By Chaelthomas (Private)

Description status: Unreviewed

Taxonomic Classification:

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

General Description:

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.

See Tom Volk’s page on Schizophyllum commune

Diagnostic Description:

Schizophyllum commune is easily identified by its split gills, dense hair, and fan-shaped cap. Cap is 1-4.5cm wide and usually a shell or fan shape with a gray to whitish surface. Basidiospores are 5-7.5 × 2-3 micrometers. A similar mushroom known as the “Crimped Gill” Plicaturopsis crispa is not as widely distributed.


May be one of the most widespread fungi in existence. Schizophyllum commune has been found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. Basically it is everywhere where there is hardwood to grow on.


Schizophyllum commune grows on hardwood using enzymes to degrade lignin and causes “white rot.” So it is found in most any woody areas. It can be found year round due to its ability to dry out, rehydrate in better conditions, and then continue to sporulate.

This fungus can be parasitic on small diameter trees that are under stress from other factors, such as drought.

There are about a dozen reported cases of infections in immunodeficient people.

Look Alikes:

Plicaturopsis crispa or the “Crimped Gill” is similar to the Split Gill. It also has a shell/fan shaped fruiting body. However the cap is a reddish brown or yellow brown, and the underside is very distinctive. It has crimped vein like gills that are much different than the split gills of Schizophyllum commune. The Crimped Gill is less common but distinctive when found.


The sexual cycle of Schizophyllum commune has been used to better understand sex in fungi. This fungus like many others doesn’t have differentiated sex organs but just exchanges nuclei wherever they touch. It has been shown that this fungus has over 28,000 different sexes and thus encourages genetic diversity in mating.

Schizophyllum commune is cultivated and eaten in Malaysia, where it is known as “cendawan kukur.”


Current Name:
Schizophyllum commune Fr. [as ‘Schizophyllus communis’], Observ. mycol. (Havniae) 1: 103 (1815)

Agaricus alneus L., Fl. Suec.: 1242 (1755)
Agaricus alneus Reichard, Willd., Sp. pl., Edn 4: 605 (1780)
Agaricus multifidus Batsch, Elench. fung., cont. prim. (Halle): 173 (1786)
Apus alneus (L.) Gray, Nat. Arr. Brit. Pl. (London) 1: 617 (1821)
Daedalea commune (Fr.) P. Kumm., Führ. Pilzk. (Zwickau): 53 (1871)
Merulius alneus (L.) J.F. Gmel., Syst. Nat. 2(2): 1431 (1792)
Merulius alneus (Reichard) Schumach., Enum. pl. (Kjbenhavn) 2: 370 (1803)
Merulius communis (Fr.) Spirin & Zmitr., Nov. sist. Niz. Rast. 37: 182 (2004)
Schizophyllum alneum (L.) J. Schröt., Kryptogamenflora der Schweiz 3(1): 553 (1888) 1889
Schizophyllum alneum (Reichard) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. (Leipzig) 3(2): 516 (1898)
Schizophyllum alneus (L.) Kuntze, Revis. gen. pl. (Leipzig) 3: 478 (1898)
Schizophyllum commune var. multifidum (Batsch) Cooke,: 101 (1892)
Schizophyllum multifidum (Batsch) Fr., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 14: 46 (1875) 1873

“Split Gill”

Description authors: Tom Volk, Thomas Bauer (Request Authorship Credit)
Description editors: Nathan Wilson, Erlon Bailey, walt sturgeon, PinkNightmares, Joseph D. Cohen