© Kit Scates Barnhart

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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Schizophyllaceae of the PNW
by Danny Miller

Introduction

The most common member of this small family is Schizophyllum commune, an abundant, stemless fan-shaped mushroom usually growing on hardwoods, with a tough, leathery texture and a white fuzzy cap. The critical and unique ID feature is that the gills are each split or grooved lengthwise (the latin literally translates to the "common split gill"). This originally European species is found worldwide, usually with little genetic variation because it can grow practically anywhere - even at least once in the lungs of an immune compromised person, so if so, do not attempt to smell it. This family is in the Agaricales, more closely related to gilled mushrooms than to the polypores of the Polyporales that usually contain the tough species with pores instead of gills. So you can kind of think of Schizophyllum more as a gilled mushroom that evolved to be tough and leathery, instead of a tough polypore that evolved gills (which also has happened).

Schizophyllum commune © Noah Siegel

Elsewhere back east and in Europe, this family contains Fistulina hepatica, the famous "beefsteak mushroom" that looks like a raw slab of meat on a tree, that even seems to bleed when squeezed, unique for each "tube" of this 'polypore' being individually separated and not fused together.

Click here to download the FASTA data of both of my DNA sequences

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