Inonotus hispidus
The forests of Illinois are filled with trees that occasionally sprout massive, shelf-like mushrooms. And while a few of these conspicuous fungi are edible, most are too tough or too woody to be of any culinary value. But that doesn’t mean all shelf mushrooms are of no value. For thousands of years humans have made good use of a variety of shelf mushrooms, including smashing them into felt-like hats, drying them and grinding them up for tinder or other fire-making projects, or even mixing the burned ashes with tobacco for an alkaline-nicotene snuff.
There are many species of wood-inhabiting mushrooms that appear fresh throughout the year, and some of them are edible, while others can be deadly.
This velvet-covered “Shaggy Polypore” (Inonotus hispidus)is not one for eating.