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Group of Fungi: Polypores
Latin Name: Piptoporus betulinus (Bull.) P. Karst.
Common Name: Birch Polypore
Description: Semicircular, hoof-shaped or kidney-shaped structure; cap 1–10 in (2.5–25 cm) or across and 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) thick, slightly convex to almost flat, upper surface white to tan at first and then becoming dingy white to pale gray-brown, smooth at first but becoming crust-like and developing cracks; margin of cap distinctly inrolled; spore-bearing surface white to cream or light brown, pores small and difficult to see; stalk sometimes lacking but rudimentary when present; spores white in mass.
Biological Role: Both a pathogen and a decomposer of wood.
Habitat: On living or dead trees, logs and stumps of birch; often solitary but sometimes occurring in small groups.
Geographical Distribution: Widely distributed throughout eastern North America wherever birch is found.
Comments: Piptoporus betulinus is a rather distinctive polypore and would be easily to recognize even if it was not restricted to birch. This fungus tends to be quite common on old birch trees. Piptoporus betulinus has been used in traditional medicine as an anesthetic.