Purpose: Fungi Growing on Wood is a web site devoted to the identification and appreciation of fungi growing in close association with living and dead wood. The fungi described here are those in a parasitic or saprophytic relationship with trees. Mycorrhizal fungi, also in close association with trees, are not strongly represented here even though some of them may be found on well-rotted wood. The organisms described on this web site are often referred to as lignicolous fungi. Most species are illustrated with multiple images to show as many diagnostic details as possible. To my knowledge, no guide similar to this exists.
Area of Usefulness: The keys were developed for fungi in the Northeastern United States. As with all regional keys, coverage decreases toward the periphery of the specified range. Many of the species included in these pages are distributed much more widely than the indicated area.
Approach to Identification: Identification of lignicolous fungi at this site requires the use of dichotomous keys based on macroscopic characters. By restricting the web site to lignicolous fungi, many, many other fungi are excluded. By excluding terrestrial fungi and fungi restricted to other substrates, a much smaller subset of organisms is defined. Consequently, the identification process is simplified.
Importance of Fungi on Wood : Lignicolous fungi are important. As a group, they play a vital role in recycling the nutrients locked up in wood. Economically, some species are capable of killing or damaging valuable timber and landscape trees. From a hobbyist perspective, no matter what time of year or the weather, it is almost always possible to find fungi on wood and they have saved many a foray from coming up empty handed. Some are edible and highly prized. Many are beautiful, serving as subjects for photographers and artists. All of them are useful in teaching aspects of mycology.
More Information: The menu below will link you to much more information concerning the background, development, purpose of, and use of this web site. In particular, if you are unfamiliar with fungi and using keys, be sure to review the information on keys, the glossary, and some of the particulars about the species included in these keys.
This page © 2008 by Gary Emberger, Messiah College