spotted shelf mushrooms
bursting through the rugged wood
of a hickory stump
This old hickory stump, stripped of bark, is still sturdy enough to stand upright for years, but every spring the soft shelf mushrooms burst through the tough wood, pouring out in profusion, with brown spotted caps and a layer of white tubes forming the stem. Last year's bracket fungi have hardened into curled pieces like old saddle leather. Polypores grow only on or from wood and are typically leathery or woody, but this species is fleshy enough to be quite edible. My father, an expert mushroom hunter, used to saute them in butter and we kids gobbled them up.