Our purpose was to find the mushroom Phellinus everhartii in a wilderness park in San Antonio, Texas. A couple of friends had been there jogging it away when they found some big conks growing on some trees after several weeks of consecutive rain. I received a text with some pictures. I identified the conks as Phellinus everhartii. At the time we had been having a lot of rain but we were unable (due to work) to head out that day to pick one up for study. The rain had ceased and there was 3 weeks of hot and dry weather to the point of being on "fire watch."
So last weekend we head out to the wilderness park to see if we can still find one alive. As we head up the hill on the trail we notice that everything is pretty dry including the ground and many trees to the point of twig snapping. As we head up higher we find a couple of conks and we excitedly run up to examine them but they are extremely dry and they break off with no effort at all with the sound of dry bark releasing. They are hard as a rock with no signs of life.
We really want to get a clean culture but things are not looking too good. So we head a bit higher and we find a couple more that seem to be in about the same conditions. As I break off the conk I look to see if there is any mycelium I can see inside its flesh. I see what looks like old dry mecelium hiden inside so I take it home in my backpack.
I get the idea that I can re-hydrate the mushroom by putting the side feeding off the tree in some water to try and bring it back to life. So what I do is grab a zip lock and put the conks inside and add some alkaline water. Half of the mushroom is under water and the other half is breathing to help simulate its environment as if attached to its host tree.
Since the purpose is to get a clean culture I also add 3% H2o2 into the water to help prevent molds and to slowly sanitize the conks.
After 3 days the Phellinus everhartii conk is coming back to life actually showing signs of growth. The mycelium starts to grow on the side in the water, as well as on the outer edges of the mushroom and the underneath pore surface looks like it has its life and color again by regenerating a new skin layer. The mycelium color is bright yellow and white.
This experiment proves that you can bring a conk back to life even after it has completely dried out. Showing how it is possible for conks to grow to be many many years old and live through crazy weather changes throughout the year. Besides mycorrhyzal fungi which mainly live underground and producie no fruitbodies. The woodloving/woodfeeding polypore conks have the longest life span than any other mushroom species They can be parasitic or saprotrophic or both to trees and live to be many years of age. Many bracket fungi polypores develop multi colored rings which is actually a years circle per ring. The interest in polypores with medicine is due to its ability to withstand abuse of all kinds that mothernature can bring. Weather it be hot, cold, dry, wet, etc and still live on without dying or spoiling. This means it has adapted with resistance to either molds, bacteria, or other pathogens or possibly all of them.
The 2 specimens above were the mushrooms as they were growing during the rains. As you can see the underneath has a live yellow color with rusty brown colored edges. This tell us the msuhroom is alive and growing.
This is the same type of mushroom but after 2-3 weeks of hot and dry weather. The underneath has become orange instead of yellow and has lines of cracking underneath.
A developing Phellinus was caught in the drought and stunted its growth. It is now dry and hard as a rock.
Some conks were put inside zip locks to rehydrate with alkaline water and H2o2 for 3 days.
After 3 days new growth is seen on edges turning back to yellow from the dry rusty brown.
A close up on the new growth.
Half of the mushroom was dunked in the water and half was left to breathe. You can tell which side has new life after only 3 days.
Another comparison of half the mushroom with new growth. The mushroom on left was cut with an axe down the middle.
This is the mushroom showing new mycelium growth at the point of attachment to host tree. This is where it feeds off the nutrients of the tree. And is now reaching out with new mycelium threads.
A couple of good close ups of new bright and fresh yellow mycelium growth.
Another example done with a different species. New mycelium and life coming back after 3 day water dunk.
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