Ganoderma applanatum

Scientific name:   Ganoderma applanatum (Pers.) Pat.
Derivation of name:   Ganoderma means having a "shiny
or lustrous skin"; applanatum means " flattened" and refers
to the flat, shelf-like appearance (applanate) of the fungus.
Synonymy:   Fomes applanatus (Pers. ex Wallr.) Gill.;
Polyporus applanatus (Pers.) Wallr.; Ganoderma
lipsiense (Batsch) G. F. Atk.
Common names:   Artist's conk.
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Polyporales
Family:   Ganodermataceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Saprobic or parasitic;
solitary or scattered or in overlapping clusters on decaying
deciduous (rarely conifer) wood, sometimes living trees;
Dimensions:  Caps up to 75 cm wide.  
Upper surface:  Concentrically furrowed; gray to grayish-
black or brown; white margin when growing; surface hard,
crusty, finely cracked and wrinkled; dull.
Pore surface: White, staining brown where touched; pores
minute, 5-6 per mm.
Edibility: Inedible.
Comments:  This is the well-known Artist's conk, used by
artists to etch drawings. See Figure 6.

More information at
More information at   

Figure 1. Ganoderma applanatum fruiting on a stump.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 2. Ganoderma applanatum is a suitable name for
for this species. "Applanate" refers to a fruitbody that is
thin and flattened horizontally. Photo © Glenn Brynes.

Figure 3. The dull brown color on the top of the caps is due
to the deposition of billions of brown spores on the cap surfaces. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 4. Ganoderma applanatum is a perennial species.
Sectioning a cap usually reveals several clearly defined
layers of tubes. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 5. Perennial conks sometimes show interesting
growth responses to events occurring during their long lives.
One such event can be inferred from the series of pictures
in Figures 5-7. At one time, this conk was oriented like
those in Figures 1-3 with the top surface (shown) facing up.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 6. This is the orientation that the conk in Figure 5
was in when found. Instead of a pore surface on the underside, there were instead a dozen or more tiny conks.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 7. The pore surfaces of the tiny conks are at right
angles to the pore surface of the original conk. Here's what
happened: the tree bearing the original conk fell over and the
still living conk responded to its altered gravitational orienation by forming new conks, each arising from the pore
surface of the original conk and each properly oriented
to drop its spores into the air below. Photo © Gary

Figure 8. As evident in Figure 7, the white pores undergo
a brown-staining reaction when smudged by handling or
drawn on with a pointed object. In the hands of an artist,
the brown-staining reaction yields a work of art. The
picture above is an example of pyrography or "writing with
fire" by Marie Heerkens. Marie writes about her work in
the Winter 2005 issue of Mushroom the Journal. Photo ©
Gary Emberger.


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