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 (lichens excepted) 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.
In the oak polypore, the hyphae occur within the heartwood of living or dead trees (6). The oak polypore is one of the few species able to live in oak heartwood, which contains a number of toxic or antifungal compounds (6). The fruit bodies of this species occur in July or August, either singly or in clusters, and persist for just a few weeks (6). Old fruit bodies, however, can sometimes persist into the following year in a blackened, decaying or mummified state (6).