20 Types of Mushrooms That Grow On Trees

20 Types of Mushrooms That Grow On Trees

Most mushrooms grow in damp, humid, and shaded places. Their growth in one’s garden or backyard is usually a sign of healthy soil. 

But have you ever spotted a mushroom growing on your tree? 

While it’s a cute idea, having mushrooms that grow on trees indicates that your tree is most likely damaged from the inside.

Mushrooms that grow on trees (or fungi) feed on the tree’s nutrients and spreads, releasing enzymes that cause the decomposition of the tree. 

Common types of mushrooms that grow on trees are shelf fungus, cap fungus, jelly fungus, white rot bark fungus, and brown rot bark fungus. 

What kinds of mushrooms grow on trees?

By properly knowing what kind of mushroom there is, it will be easier to diagnose how it affects the tree. 

It is also important to properly identify mushrooms before you touch, eat or do anything with them. 

Here, we’ve listed 20 types of mushrooms that grow on trees to look out for.

1. Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods
Image: Stephen John Davies on iNaturalist
Scientific NameLaetiporus sulphureus
Common NameChicken of the woods, Crab of the woods, Sulphur polypore, Sulphur shelf, Chicken mushroom
FamilyFomitopsidaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveBeech, Oak, Chesnut treesDeciduous and conifer treesNorth America and Europe

The Chicken of the Woods is a wavy-edged shelf fungus mushroom native to the trees of North America and Europe. 

Its common name came from the fact that Laetiporus sulphureus tastes like chicken when cooked. It is best used for cooking when young and moist. 

Unfortunately, it is parasitic as it causes the decaying of the part of the tree on which it grows. 

The Chicken of the Woods is easy to identify because of its yellow or orange color, growing in fan-shaped layers around the tree. 

2. Hen of the Wood

Hen of the Wood
Image: First Nature
Scientific NameGrifola frondosa
Common NameHen of the woods, Ram’s head, Sheep’s head, Maitake, Dancing mushroom
FamilyMeripilaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveOak and maple treesChina, Europe, North America

The Hen of the Wood is another bracket fungus that usually grows on the tree’s roots. It emerges at the base of the trees in large clusters for several years. 

The Grifola frondosa has a gray or brown top in spoon-shaped and wavy clusters.

This mushroom is rich in vitamin D, helps prevent cancer, and strengthens bone health.

As a parasitic mushroom, it absorbs all the nutrients from the roots, causing damage to the host tree. 

3. Beefsteak Fungus

Beefsteak Fungus
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Scientific NameFistulina hepatica
Common NameOx Tongue, Beefsteak fungus, Tongue mushroom
FamilyFistulinaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveOak and sweet Chesnut treesEurope, North America, Australia, Africa

The Beefsteak fungus looks like a large red tongue that grows on trees. It has a rough surface but releases meat-like red juice when cut in the middle. 

One of the few edible red mushrooms, the Beefsteak fungus has a bitter and acidic taste. 

Once the Ox Tongue has infected an oak timber, it turns the tree into “Brown Oak” which is highly valued by woodworkers and cabinet makers. 

4. The Oyster Mushroom

The Oyster Mushroom
Image: Fenner Morse on iNaturalist
Scientific NamePleurotus ostreatus
Common NameOyster mushroom, Oyster fungus
FamilyPleurotaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveHardwood and deciduous treesTemperate and subtropical forests

Oyster fungus commonly grows on decaying hardwood trees in temperate and subtropical forests. 

This type of mushroom has a broad cap whose color comes in white, gray, brown, or tan. It also has in-rolled wavy margins and white gills underneath the cap.

Pleurotus ostreatus is carnivorous. They can digest nematodes or roundworms to get extra nitrogen. 

5. Hoof Fungus

Hoof Fungus
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Scientific NameFomes fomentarius
Common NameHoof fungus, Tinder fungus, Iceman fungus, tinder polypore
FamilyPolyporaceae
ToxicityToxic
Where they commonly thriveEurope, Asia, North America

The Hoof fungus is a parasitic type of mushrooms that causes the bark of a tree to rot. Its shape resembles a horse’s hoof and usually has a silvery gray or black color.

Although the host tree died, the Tinder fungus continues to decompose the tree. 

This mushroom is toxic and inedible. However, the Fomes fomentarius contains amadous that is widely used for tinder, clothing, and timber production.

6. Lion’s Mane 

Lion’s Mane
Image: Medical News Today
Scientific NameHericium erinaceus
Common NameLion’s mane, Mountain-priest mushroom, Bearded tooth fungus
FamilyHericiaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveHardwood treesNorth America, Europe, Asia

The Hericium erinaceus consists of a large, dangling, spore-filled spine resembling the hair of a lion. It has a white or cream color when young and turns yellow or brown as it ages. 

The Lion’s mane is commonly found on hardwood trees, staying there even until the death of the host tree. 

This is an edible mushroom used to strengthen nerve and stomach functions. 

7. Northern Tooth

Northern Tooth
Image: Michael Emberger on Messiah College
Scientific NameClimacodon septentrionale
Common NameNorthern tooth
FamilyMeruliaceae
ToxicityToxic
Where they commonly thriveHardwood and maple treesNortheastern United States

The Northern Tooth is a polypore mushroom growing on trees. It has a fan-shaped cap, white or cream color and grows in overlapping shelf-like layers at the base of the tree. 

The Climacodon septentrionale causes the heartrot of the tree to weaken, making its bark easily blown by the wind. 

8. Dryad’s Saddle 

Dryad’s Saddle
Image: Pam Kaminski on Messiah College
Scientific NameCerioporus squamosus
Common NameDryad’s saddle, Pheasant’s back mushroom
FamilyPolyporaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveHardwood treesNorth America, Europe, Australia, Asia

The Drydad’s Saddle grows on decomposing stumps and logs on hardwood trees. It emerges in clusters or shelf-like structures. 

This mushroom has a yellow or brown convex cap with scales underneath. 

Unfortunately, the Cerioporus squamosus causes the heartwood of the tree to rot. 

9. Honey Mushroom

Honey Mushroom
Image: Fred Stevens on Myko Web
Scientific NameArmillaria mellea
Common NameHoney fungus, Honey mushroom, Bootlace fungus, Stump mushroom
FamilyPhysalacriaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveNorthern Hemisphere

The Honey mushroom thrives in temperate regions. It is found at the base of living or dead trees, or decaying wood, in dense clusters.

The Armillaria mellea has a dish-shaped yellow-brown cap with dark hairy scales. Under the mushroom cap are white, pink, or yellow gills in a cylindrical stipe.

The Honey mushroom is a parasite as it causes damage to living trees it attaches to. It is also a saprophyte, or an organism that lives on decaying organic matter, as it feeds on the tree or wood long after its death. 

10. Artist’s Bracket

Artist’s Bracket
Image: WISC Botany
Scientific NameGanoderma applanatum
Common NameArtist’s bracket, Artist’s conk, Artist’s fungus, Bear bread
FamilyGanodermataceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveBeech, Poplar, Apple, Elm, Maple, Oak, Walnut, Willow, Douglas Fir trees

The Artist’s Bracket is another parasitic and saprophytic mushroom. It has a semicircular fruiting body in red or brown color.

The Ganoderma applanatum is a wood-decaying fungus that causes rot in the heartwood of the tree. 

In China and Japan, the Bear Bred is used as a traditional medicine for its anti-tumor, rheumatic, and anti-bacterial properties. 

11. Reishi

Reishi
Image: sritakoset on Shutterstock
Scientific NameGanoderma lucidum
Common NameReishi, mushroom of immortality, mushroom of spiritual potency, spirit plant
FamilyGanodermataceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveHardwood treesEurope and China

The Reishi is a polypore mushroom that has been widely used in traditional Asian medicine. It has a pink concentric fruiting body that emerges at the base of the tree. 

It helps strengthen the heart and ease flu and asthma effects. This medicinal mushroom is also used to treat dizziness, palpitations, and insomnia.

The Ganoderma lucidum usually grows on decaying hardwood trees. 

12. Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail
Image: Science Direct
Scientific NameTrametes versicolor
Common NameTurkey tail, many-zoned polypore
FamilyPolyporaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveDeadwood, Hardwood, Conifer treesEurope and Asia

The Trametes versicolor is a bracket fungus with its fruiting body fanned out like a tail of a turkey. It has smooth and cylindrical pores but without gills. 

Although the Turkey Tail is too hard to eat, it is used in making tea, broths, and even as a traditional Chinese medicine. 

13. Witch’s Butter

Witch’s Butter
Image: Wikipedia
Scientific NameTremella mesenterica
Common NameWitch’s Butter
FamilyTremellaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveHardwood treesAmerica, Europe, Australia, Taiwan

The Witch’s Butter is a yellow jelly mushroom usually found on the bark of decaying wood. 

The Tremella mesenterica bears yellow brain-with-lobes-like fruit all year round. 

It has been used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, and for its anti-microbial and anti-tumorigenic properties. 

14. Psilocybe sp.

Psilocybe sp.
Image: Wikipedia
Scientific NamePsilocybe sp.
Common NamePsilocybes
FamilyHymenogastraceae
ToxicityToxic
Where they commonly thriveMossy, Grassy, Forest Humus soilsBrazil and Chile

The Psilocybe sp. is a little brown-capped mushroom that emerges from wood mulches and feeds on decaying trees. 

Unfortunately, this mushroom is toxic as is it associated with wood lovers’ Paralysis. They are also considered hallucinogenic due to the presence of psilocybin molecules.

15. Deadly Galerina

Deadly Galerina
Image: Myko Web
Scientific NameGalerina marginata
Common NameDeadly Galerina, funeral bell, deadly skullcap, autumn skullcap
FamilyHymenogastraceae
ToxicityToxic
Where they commonly thriveDecaying wood

The Deadly Galerina is another poisonous, little brown-capped mushroom. It has a small convert cap with a yellow-to-brown color and reddish-brown spores under the pileus.

The Galerina marginata thrives on dead, rotten wood. 

This mushroom is similar to many small brown fungi which can trick others from eating it. 

16. Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake Mushroom
Image: Hifas de Terra
Scientific NameLentinula edodes
Common NameShiitake
FamilyOmphalotaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveDeciduous trees like Beech and Oak treesJapan, Korea, China

Shiitake mushrooms are indigenous to the warm and moist climates of East Asian countries. They are brown-capped and bullet-shaped mushrooms that dwell on the wood of trees. 

It is widely used in the culinary field and rich source of B vitamins and dietary minerals. 

Shiitake mushrooms are also used for medicinal purposes such as the treatment of dermatitis. 

17. Blue Oyster Mushroom

Blue Oyster Mushroom
Image: iStock
Scientific NamePleurotus columbinus
Common NameBlue oyster
FamilyPleurotaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveDeadwood trees

The Pleurotus columbinus is a blue-tinted oyster mushroom that thrives in cool climates. They grow in shelf-like clusters in deadwood trees. 

It is also carnivorous as it consumes nematodes to obtain more nutrients. 

Blue oyster mushrooms are used in the cultivation of straw, wood, and other cellulose-rich materials. 

They are rich in vitamins B and D, as well as proteins, antioxidants, and amino acids. 

18. King Oyster Mushroom

King Oyster Mushroom
Image: Mushroom Mountain
Scientific NamePleurotus eryngii
Common NameKing Trumpet, French Horn, Boletus of the Steppes, Blue oyster
FamilyPleurotaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveDeadwood, Hardwood treesEurope, Middle East, North Africa

The King Oyster Mushroom is a large, fleshy fungus with a white meaty stalk and light brown cap. It is the largest mushroom from the Pleurotus genus and a wood-decaying fungi.

The Pleurotus eryngii is a common meat substitute for vegan dishes, and it contains cholesterol-lowering agents. 

19. Wine Cap Mushroom

Wine Cap Mushroom

Image: Pam Kaminski on Messiah College

Scientific NameStropharia rugosoannulata
Common NameWine Cap mushroom, King Stropharia, Garden Giant, Burgundy Mushroom, Godzilla mushroom
FamilyStrophariaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveHardwood treesEurope and North America

Wine Cap mushrooms have purple-gray gills, a wrinkled-ringed stem, and a reddish-brown cap. It is commonly found in woodchips and even gardens. 

It is widely used for cooking, usually grilled or sauteed in butter and corn. 

20. Beech Mushroom

Beech Mushroom
Image: Gary Emberger on Messiah College
Scientific NameHypsizygus tessellatus
Common NameBeech mushroom, Shimeji Mushroom, Brown/White Clamshell Mushroom
FamilyLyophyllaceae
ToxicityNon-Toxic
Where they commonly thriveHardwood, Beech treesEast Asia, Europe, North America, Australia

Beech mushrooms are an edible type of gilled mushroom that thrive on temperate climates. They naturally grow on wood such as on Beech trees. 

When cooked, beech mushrooms have a sweet and nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. It is usually added to soups in Japanese cuisine. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do mushrooms grow on trees?

Mushrooms grow on trees because of sub-optimal soil conditions and physical damage. 
When the soil becomes too dry or too wet, it causes damage to its roots. This in turn gives fungi an opportunity to enter the roots and absorb nutrients. 
On the other hand, cuts, scrapes, or other wounds of a tree provide another opportunity for fungi to penetrate its interior. 
Once open, the spores of the fungi can easily attach, thrive, and compete with the absorption of nutrients within the tree. 

Are mushrooms harmful to trees? 

Mushroom fungus spreads inside the tree and feeds on the hosts’ organic matter, signalling internal damage and causing  the tree itself to decompose. 
As a result, the internal damage spreads to the exterior of the tree and even causes its branches to break off. 

Are mushrooms on trees edible?

Some mushrooms that grow on trees are edible. 
Most are sought-after ingredients in the dishes that we know today such as the Chicken of the Woods, Hen of the Woods, shiitake, and blue oyster mushrooms.

What to do about mushrooms on trees? 

The best way to deal with mushrooms on trees is to leave them as they are. 
Removing the attached mushrooms can only cause the spread of its spores to the neighboring trees. 

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