Climacodon septentrionale

Scientific name:   Climacodon septentrionale (Fr.) Karsten
Derivation of name:   Septentrional- means "northern."
Synonyms:  Steccherinum septentrionale (Fr.) Banker;
Hydnum septentrionale Fr.
Common name(s):  Northern tooth.
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Polyporales
Family:   Meruliaceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Parasitic; in dense
overlapping clusters on trunks of living deciduous trees,
particularly maple (Acer) and beech (Fagus); July through
October.  
Dimensions:  Individual caps up to 30 cm wide and from
2.5-5 cm thick at the base. Overlapping clusters of shelving
caps may be up to 80 cm high.  
Description:  Upper cap surfaces are whitish to creamy
yellow when young and become yellow-brown in age. Cap
surfaces are hairy to rough. Odor and taste when young are
not distinctive but the odor of old specimens is described as
like old, spoiled ham and the taste becomes bitter. The
crowded, whitish spines on the underside of the caps are 0.5-
2 cm long and have lacerated or ragged tips. Like the cap
surfaces, the spines become yellowish in age.       
Edibility: Inedible.
Comments:
 This fungus looks like a polypore until the
spines are noticed. It causes a heart rot of trees in urban
areas, parks, and in forests.

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Figure 1. Climacodon septentrionale on
a living Norway maple (Acer platanoides).
Photo © Lynne Jones.


Figure 2. Northern tooth is often reported
high up on wounds of infected trees but this
low-to-the-ground specimen shows there are
often exceptions. Photo © Lynne Jones.


Figure 3. Compared to the specimen in Figure 2,
perhaps this is a more typical location for northern
tooth - high on the trunk of a tree. In this case, the
tree is a red maple (Acer rubrum) on the grounds
of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Photo ©
Gary Emberger.


Figure 4. The overlapping caps progressively
decrease in size toward the top and bottom of the
cluster. Photo © Lynne Jones.


Figure 5. Northern tooth has a wider distribution than its
name implies. In addition to northeast North America,
it occurs as far south as Kentucky and Tennessee and west
to the Great Plains. Photo © George Barron.


Figure 6. Older specimen of northern tooth with
yellow-brown coloration. Photo © Fred Habegger.


Figure 7. Climacodon septentrionale looks like a
polypore until you see there are teeth instead of pores.
Photo © Lynne Jones.


Figure 8. The teeth on this specimen are about about 1 cm.
Photo © Gary Emberger.


Figure 9. Spines are clearly seen on this young specimen.
Photo © William Roody.


Figure10. The ragged spine tips are evident in this
enlargement of a portion of Figure 8.
Photo © William Roody.

 

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