Botanical Name: Ganoderma tsugae
Other Common Names: Varnish Shelf, Ling Chih, Hemlock Polypore, Mushroom of Immortality
Brief Description and Notes: There are a variety of Ganoderma species around the world; tsugae is the one most common to PA that also has medicinal benefits. This well-known mushroom grows as a horizontal shelf, and is often shiny with bands of colors (white/cream/orange/brown/reds). Younger specimens have more of the light color before darker colors develop. As a polypore, the underside has tiny whitish pores rather than any gills. They often have a thick stalk connecting them to the wood. The “Artist’s Conk” is also a Ganoderma species, though not typically used medicinally in the way Reishi is. The Artist’s Conk can grow on living or dead deciduous or coniferous wood and is often tan or grayish. The underside turns brown when scratched and is often used to carve artwork into it.
Where To Look For It: On dead and dying conifers, particularly Hemlock. It can also grow from buried roots of dead conifers.
Ornamental Value: Colorful and shiny appearance
Ecological Value & Roles: Decomposer
Edibility and Other Human Use: Highly medicinal, often used in tea or tincture form. Benefits are said to include: enhanced immunity and longevity, reduced blood pressure, cancer treatment
Mushrooms of the Northeast by Teresa Marrone and Walt Sturgeon