Shape and texture identify more closely the specific characteristics of Annual and Perennial fruiting structures. The categories reflect characteristics of mature conks, mushrooms or fruiting on a host. Developing fruiting structures should be allowed to fully mature before selecting one of the shape and texture categories.
- Brittle or crumbly
- Tough or Leathery
Brittle or Crumbly
Brittle and crumbly refer to annual fruiting structures of several ascomycete decay fungi that do not form conks or mushrooms. These fungi fruit in black, stromatic material that may be thin and adhered to wood or bark, or rounded and attached to decayed wood (Photograph 1) or finger-like and attached at the base of a tree (Photograph 2).
Tough or Leathery
Tough or leathery refers to the texture of annual conks where the fungus can usually be broken off the tree and broken or ripped in two with one’s hands. These conks may be somewhat fleshy and watery when young but typically toughen with age. They usually are bracket-like or shelf-like and can be of varying size from 1-2 inches across to 5-6 inches or more in diameter across their thickest width.
Annual fungi can fruit as mushrooms (with gills or pores) and be more fleshy than tough and leathery. These fungi can usually be easily picked off the tree and quickly dehydrate and shrink from loss of moisture if they are picked and not protected from drying.
- Hoof shaped
- Black and cinder-like
Several of the perennial fungi are distinctly hoof-shaped, elongating more downward than outward as they develop and grow.
Flattened or Applanate
Many of the perennial fungi become flattened as they grow more away from the tree than downward as they develop. They may be somewhat semi-circular in shape or more elongate and bracket-shaped as they grow.
Black and cinder-like
Two of the perennial decay fungi only produce sterile, black, cinder-like fungal material on infected trees. These “clinker” conks do not have a visible pore layer but are perennial in that they are very woody and remain on the tree growing in size in multiple years.