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What is this? A fungus? ID help please...

 
                                      
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We have this at the foot of one of the trees in our yard.  It is hard, waxy feeling, and looks like it has another tree growing out of it. 


The tree appears to be healthy - other than some ants climbing up the trunk.  Does anyone know what the heck this is?  Do I want it?  If not, how do I get rid of it?  Geeze - we just got the aphids under control and the beans and chives are happily living 6' apart.  Now we get this!

Thanks for any help.
Sharon
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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My first guess is "fungus".

Let's see if people more knowledgeable than I know for sure.
 
                        
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You could try sending a note to the folks at info@fungi.com (they are a retail shop but kind and helpful) and see if it is something they know of.  Looks like a slime mold more than a fungus. 
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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It looks to me like some sort of shelf fungus (perhaps Fomes spp. or Ganoderma spp.?). The white part toward the bottom is the spore bearing surface. There is a great dichotomous key in the book Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora that might help you out.

Good luck!

Dave
 
                                      
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Thank you all!  I emailed fungi.com and look forward to an answer soon.

Sharon
 
                                              
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Location: Missoula
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Please let me know when you find out?
Peace
Landon
 
Scott Mudge
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It looks like some sort of varnish shelf, but I am unsure which specific species. I'm not too educated on stalkless fungi, but I do love chicken-of-the-woods from time to time. Best of luck!
 
Franklin Stone
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It looks like Fomitopsis pinicola to me. Another possibility is a Gandoderma species. Both of these are medicinal fungi, used in alternative (Chinese) medicine.  Ganoderma have brown spores, Fomitopsis have yellow/white. What part of the country is this growing in? What kind of tree is it growing on?

There is no "getting rid of" this type of fungus. It will be living in the tree until the tree dies, and will continue to live in the dead tree, slowly digesting it and turning it back into soil. While the US Forest service might consider these to be parasites, it is highly debatable whether these fungi are actually harmful. There is some evidence that infection with certain types of fungus protect the trees against other types of more harmful infection.
 
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