Artist’s fungus (Ganoderma applanatum)

Also known as: Flat tinder fungus
GenusGanoderma (1)
SizeBracket size: 4 - 10 x 3 - 8 cm (2)

Artist’s fungus is widespread in Britain (3).

Artist’s fungus (Ganoderma applanatum) forms bracket-like fruit bodies that are reddish brown in colour (4). The hard waxy crust has a knobbly surface (3), and the flesh is dark reddish-brown, with a fibrous texture (4). Spores are released from pores located on the underside of the fungus. The pores are initially white, but become brownish as they age (4). Artist’s fungus releases massive amounts of brown spores, which collect on other fruit bodies and on the trunk of the host tree. This often gives the impression that the area has been liberally sprinkled with cocoa powder (3). An unusual form of this fungus occurs fairly frequently, in which layers of whitish flesh occur throughout the fruit body. Patterns scratched into these white layers are permanent, and this practice explains the common name of this species, 'artist's fungus' (3).

WARNING: many species of fungus are poisonous or contain chemicals that can cause sickness. Never pick and eat any species of fungus that you cannot positively recognise or are unsure about. Some species are deadly poisonous and can cause death within a few hours if swallowed.

Artist’s fungus has a wide distribution in Britain but is not common (4). It is also found in Europe and North America as well as Trinidad, Panama, Columbia and Venezuela (3).

Parasitic on a range of living or dead broad-leaved trees, but favours beech (4). In many parts of its range it occurs in mountainous areas (3).

Fungi are neither plants nor animals but belong to their own kingdom. They are unable to produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis, as plants do; instead, they acquire nutrients from living or dead plants, animals, or other fungi, as animals do. In many larger fungi (except lichens) the only visible parts are the fruit bodies, which arise from a largely unseen network of threads called ‘hyphae’. These hyphae permeate the fungus’s food source, which may be soil, leaf litter, rotten wood, dung, and so on, depending on the species, and take up nutrients (3).

The inedible fruit bodies of artist’s fungus are found throughout the year (5). They grow alone or in overlapping groups on the trunk of the host tree (3). This parasitic fungus causes a white rot in host timber and eventually kills living trees (3).

Artist’s fungus is not threatened at present.

Artist's fungus has not been the target of any known conservation measures.  

For more information on Artist’s fungus and other  fungi see: Jordan, M. (1995) The encyclopaedia of fungi of Britain and Europe. David and Charles, London.

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September, 2003)
  2. Courtecuisse, R. (1999) Collins guide to the mushrooms of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
  3. Dickinson, C. and Lucas, J. (1979) The encyclopaedia of mushrooms. ORBIS Publishing, London.
  4. Buczacki, S. (1989) Fungi of Britain and Europe. Collins, London.
  5. Jordan, M. (1995) The encyclopaedia of fungi of Britain and Europe. David and Charles, London.