Last Updated - 2.24.2015
Edible Wild Mushrooms Commonly Found In Pennsylvania And Personally Eaten Regularly
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Aborted Armillaria
Armillaria abortivum
Aborted entoloma

Almost Bluing
King Boletus

Boletus subcaerulescens

Artist's Conk
Ganoderma applanatum

Bear's Head Tooth
Hericium americanum

Birch Polypore
Piptoporus betulinus

Black Trumpets
Craterellus fallax

Clitocybe nuda

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Hypholoma sublateritium

Cauliflower Mushroom
Sparassis spathulata

Chicken of the Woods
Laetiporus sulphureus

Inonotus obliquus

Comb Tooth
Hericium coralloides

Common Laccaria
Laccaria laccata

Corrugated Cap Milky
Lactarius corrugis

Giant Puffball
Langemannia gigantea

Golden Chanterelle
Cantharellus cibarius

Hedgehog Mushroom Big
Dentinum repandum

Hedgehog Little
Dentinum umbilicatum

Hen of the Woods
Grifola frondosa

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Armilleria mellea

Horn of Plenty
Craterellus cornucopioides

Horse Mushroom
Agaricus arvensis

Hygrophorus Milky
Lactarius hygrophoroides

Lilac Bolete
Xanthoconium separans / Boletus separans

Lingzhi / Reishi
Ganoderma lucidum & G. tsugae

Lion's Mane / Old Man's Beard
Hericium erinaceus

Meadow Mushrooms / Pinkies
Agaricus compestris

Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus ostreatus

Purple-gilled Laccaria
Laccaria ochropurpurea

Quilted Green Russula
Russula virescens

Red Chanterelle
Cantharellus cinnabarinus

Rooted Oudemansiella
Oudemansiella radicata

Shaggy Mane
Coprinus comatus

Smooth Chanterelle
Cantharellus lateritius

Tinder Fungus
Fomes fomentarius

Turkey Tail
Trametes versicolor / Coriolus versicolor / Polyporus versicolor

Two-colored Bolete
Boletus bicolor

Voluminous-latex Milky
Lactarius volemus

Winter Chanterelle
Cantharellus tubaeformis
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The Prince ? or Almond Mushroom ?
Agaricus augustus or A. subrufescens
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Wild Food Foraging
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Polyporus squamosus

Dryad's Saddle - Pheasant Back mushroom

In my area of southwestern Pennsylvania morels are not as plentiful as I would like them to be - like they are in northern Michigan. Because of that I spend a lot more time in the woods on a daily basis searching for them AND I am always looking in new areas for them as well.
Because I spend a lot of time searching and because I know what I'm doing to find them I am often rewarded.
Some people say I am lucky. Luck is only part of it though. "Good luck comes to those that know how to search".

One of those good luck things that I find sometimes, either by itself or with morels, is Dryad's Saddle - Polyporus squamosus.
It does not get a lot of respect as a good edible in most books and write-ups but take my word for it - if you pick it at the right stage of it's growth, process it correctly for cooking and cook it in the right way you too will consider it a lucky find.
Photo of a Dryad's Saddle mushroom harvested with morels in late April - Polyporus squamosus

You will find it growing on dying or dead hardwood trees.
I find it quite often on elm trees that look like they are dead. That's probably because I spend a lot of time searching for morels where there are lots of elm and old apple trees.
Photo of a Dryad's Saddle mushroom at the base of a dead elm tree in late April - Polyporus squamosus

These mushrooms are sometimes called Pheasant back mushrooms because of the feathery looking surface. The light brown color with darker scales arranged in a pattern of overlapping feathers gives them that look.

Here's a closer view of the same mushroom.
Close-up photo of a Dryad's Saddle mushroom at the base of a dead elm tree in late April - Polyporus squamosus

Mostly these mushrooms have a lateral stalk attachment to the trees they grow on.
Here you can see the white circluar area on the tree trunk where I cut off the fan shaped cap.

If you cut this mushroom off early in the season you can sometimes be rewarded with a second harvest later in the same year where the cutoff was made.
Photo of a Dryad's Saddle mushroom cut off from the base of a dead elm tree in late April - Polyporus squamosus

It's genus name - Polyporus - means many pores. It's specie's name squamosus means
'a surface with scales ( squamae ). Scaly appearing'. Aptly named.
If you flip it over you will see the pores without much trouble. They are large, angular pores, whitish to cream colored and very obvious to the naked eye. Spore print is white.

Also very obvious is the non-mushroomy aroma. Some people describe the aroma as similar to watermelon rind. Pinch off a piece of mushroom and check it out. It is very distinctive.
I agree with the watermelon rind smell.
Photo of the undersurface - the pores - of a Dryad's Saddle mushroom - Polyporus squamosus

In the spring the underside will oftentimes be very watery indicating a high degree of freshness to the mushroom.
Flesh is whitish. If very fresh it could be a little marbled.

When fresh, the mushroom is a very good find. When not fresh don't bother with it.

Size is not necessarily an indicator of freshness. I've found some large ones, growing under perfect conditions, that were as fresh as can be imagined. So don't ignore the big ones out of hand. Check them out by making a knife cut along the perimeter. If it cuts really easy it is probably a good one.

It's tasty enough to satisfy my discerning taste buds. And, it's a lot easier to clean and get ready for cooking than morels are. Don't get me wrong. I like morels but I have several mushroom varieties that I pick that I like more. When you know many wild mushrooms to choose from you too would agree that there are several that are better.
I am a stickler for clean, fresh food and especially so with wild mushrooms so "easy clean and prep" is a great benefit about fresh Dryad's Saddle.

The pores will eventually turn brownish where bruised.

Take your slices in stages working from the edge toward the area where the stalk was attached. Working the slice parallel to the edge, about one inch thick works fine.
As your cutting gets closer and closer to the stalk area ( on the left side of photo below ) you will notice that the cutting gets progressively harder.
What we want is mushroom flesh that cuts very, very easy.
Photo of a Dryad's Saddle mushroom being sliced in preparation for cooking - Polyporus squamosus

Another thing that we want on the Dryad's Saddle we plan on eating is a very thin pore layer. Around 1/16 of an inch or a wee bit thicker is perfect.

Once the pore layer gets a bit too thick the mushroom has gotten past it's prime and will not cook up nicely. I'm sure that the negative assessments about it's culinary uses is due to someone cooking up specimens that have passed their prime.
I've experimented with cooking older specimens myself. You can't do much with it. It gets chewy.
It will do for making soup stock but that's about all.

Best practice is to gather Dryad's Saddle when their condition is very easy to cut. Also, another good practice is to slice off the tube layer and the cuticle ( the outer skin ) prior to cooking.
All easily done.

Cut into small pieces or thin slices and saute small batches reasonably quickly.
A little olive oil and butter will do nicely.

Polyporus squamosus - A/K/A - Pheasant's Back
DATE - April and May 2014.
FOUND - Most anywhere that has a lot of downed hardwood. Especially good are places with many dead and dying elm trees.

Weather conditions: Wet. On and off drizzles on the day found. Mostly the weather this spring has been colder than usual.

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