The Amateur Mycologist #25 - Pycnoporus cinnabarinus - A Bright Orange/Red Mushroom With Practical/Industrial ApplicationssteemCreated with Sketch.

in #steemstem5 years ago (edited)

These posts are not for foraging. They are intended for entertainment and intellectual satisfaction only. These posts are not a field guide nor comprehensive in any way - their accuracy is not assured in any way. Do not eat wild mushrooms unless you are a professional, have substantial professional assistance or have a wealth of personal experience with a specific species. Do not make any foraging decisions based on these posts. To do so could be dangerous or life threatening.

These Posts Contains No Information Regarding Edibility Or Toxicity


At first glance, you could be forgiven for mistaking these mushrooms for Ganodermas

However, the mushroom pictured above is not a Reishi mushroom - it isn't a Ganoderma at all. In fact, it is a completely different genus entirely.

Let's take a closer look at a slightly younger cap.


Already things are looking a lot less "Ganoderma-ish"

The red/orange color is too uniform and matte. There doesn't appear to be a tough outer skin. In fact, this thing looks downright fleshy.

Let's get in there and give it a touch.

This is definitely NOT a ganoderma!

This is Pycnoporus cinnabarinus, and although the slightly older specimens look vaguely like Ganoderma at a glance, the resemblance begins to wear very thin, very quickly. If you have any lingering doubts, a quick, squishy poke will dispel them entirely!

Alternatively, you can take a cap and flip it over to see the real show!


Look at that vibrant pore color!

These caps were all on the older side, but they still retained the most vibrant red/orange pores I've ever seen in person on a mushroom. The Pycnoporus genus is known for the vibrant red/orange coloration of its pores. In conjunction with its polypore structure, saprobic log growth, and fleshy texture, the awesome pore colors make for a fairly unique and identifiable mushroom.

But what really makes P.cinnabarinus awesome is its various practical and industrial uses. This is a topic I have not yet expounded upon much - but P.cinnabarinus is a perfect place to start.

But before we get into all that, let's get clear on the mushrooms other macroscopic traits.

The single log I found had the mushroom in old, middle aged, and incipient form. Take a look at the baby version.


These incipient specimens almost look like a slime mold, but for the tiny caps

P.cinnabarinus is a fairly common mushroom, on average, in North America. However, it can be exceedingly rare based on locality, and apparently without muc rhyme or reason. Kuo says he has only seen this mushroom twice in over a decade. I just saw it on my fourth major walk through Central Park. Others seem to find pounds of the stuff.

Wherever it grows, it will always be saprobic, on a dead log. There is anecdotal talk of it preferring newly downed trees or specific species, but nothing is consistently reported to that effect.

The mushrooms doesn't like it too cold, but in temperate areas can be seen almost year round.

Let's look at a cross section


The flesh color mirrors the cap and is roughly uniform throughout.

The pore layer can be clearly distinguished and the flesh does not change color when bruised.

In case you have any lingering doubts about whether you have P.cinnabarinus or a Ganoderma, your fairly easy ability to tear the cao in half with your hands, and the lack of a dark brown interior flesh, will leave no doubt.

You can also see the clearly delineated pore surface stretching a couple of mm through the body of the mushroom.

This is also the first species we've highlighted to have a relevant KOH reaction. But as we'll see, this can sometimes be a source of confusion as much as edification.

Take a look at the KOH reactions on this specimen, several minutes after KOH was applied.


This is the top of the mushroom - brown centers with yellow edges.

The spots would yellow even more with time.

Now take a look at the pore surface KOH reactions in the same timetable.


Similar coloration to the cap stains

A darker, brownish center with yellowing around the edges.

However, when I first dropped some KOH on a seperate piece of pore surface several hours earlier, the reaction was a much darker and more consistent brown, becoming almost black.

Take a look at that, and note the speed of the initial reaction.

A younger cap also presented a different coloration on top, ending up at a light matte brown.

Confusingly, that leaves us with three different KOH reactions:

  1. On the cap of a fresher mushroom - light brown

  2. On the pores of a fresher mushroom -Brown to blackish

  3. On the cap and pores of a mushroom 24 hours after harvest - brown fading progressively to yellow around the edge.

Now compare this information to the KOH reactions provided by Kuo:

Cap surface purplish to reddish, then gray to black with KOH; pore surface olive green with KOH; flesh slowly reddish to blackish or in older specimens yellowish with KOH.


Not only is that grammatcally confusing, but the colors hardly seem to line up at all! At this point I started to wonder if I had the wrong mushroom entirely. But then I looked at the photos Kuo has up of the KOH reactions, and they look fairly similar to the older pore reaction and younger cap reaction.

I also did some seperate google scholar research on the species and found an Indian research paper that investigated its uses and characteristics in some detail. They indicated only a blackening reaction to KOH, which is consistent with the fresher pore surface reaction I saw.

What is one to make of this confusion? Well, the KOH has definitely assisted in placing the genus. However, the vagueries of color descriptions versus photos, and even the specifics of individual specimen reactions, can sometimes make for more confusion than clarity.

Last question is the spore print - should be white.


The cap was pretty old and pretty wet, but we got a scant white print out of it nonetheless which you can see in this photo.

Given the host of positive identifying traits, despite the mixed KOH results, I feel comfortable identifying the species in this case. Comfortable enough that I made it into a full out species post.

Practical applications:

Many mushrooms have practical or industrials applications beyond being food or their utilitarian purpose in the ecosystem. Obviously, P.cinnabarinus breaks down dead wood. But it also has at least a couple of awesome uses:

  1. Making natural orange dye - A quick squeeze of the fresh cap releases a good amount of orange tinted fluid. However, if you collect multiple caps, and the mycelium itself, you can extract a fairly color fast orange dye that can be used on a variety of mediums.

  2. Harvesting Laccase for industrial uses - Laccase is an enzyme present in several mushroom species. It can be extracted from P.cinnabarinus and then utilized in several potential applications - including bio-fuel battery designs, tooth whitening, dyeing, and a bunch of other stuff I don't understand - including a wide variety of purposes as a food additive

This is just the tip of the pragmatic iceberg of mycological uses. We will talk in the future about how much deeper the rabbit hole may go.


  • Cap = fairly uniform red/orange color, at first quite bright and slowly fading as the cap ages - the surface of the cap was suede like in its texture, but Kuo indicates possible small hairs as well. Shelf like or kidney shaped, as you see in the pictures above. 2-13cm in width range, 2cm or so in thickness. Doess not bruise.

  • Spore surface = bright orange/red, dulls with time but not as much as the cap.

  • Flesh = Tough and fleshy - juicy after rain - consistent dark orange, but tearable by hand. Does not bruise.

  • Stem ("stipe") = none

  • Spore Print = White

  • Ecology ("How it grows.") = Saprobic on dead logs. Kuo specifies mostly hardwood, but allows for conifers. Seems pretty equal opportunity overal. Can be spring through fall or year round in temperate areas.

  • Distribution = Common on average inNorth America, but can be rare in specific localities.

  • Other = Cap and mycelium can be harvested for orange dye and the enzyme laccase for industrial uses.


Photos Are My Own

Information Sources:
[1]Kuo on P.cinnabarinus
[2]Wikipedia On P.cinnabarinus
[3]Messiah College on P.cinnabarinus
MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS OF WESTERN GHATS OF INDIA", by Meera Pandey and Veena S.S, Society for Promotion of Tropical Biodiversity, Jabalpur, Indian J. Trop. Biodiv. 20(1) : 37 - 44(2012)

[5]Eggert, Claudia, Ulrike Temp, and Karl-Erik Eriksson. "The ligninolytic system of the white rot fungus Pycnoporus cinnabarinus: purification and characterization of the laccase." Applied and Environmental Microbiology 62.4 (1996): 1151-1158.

[6]Wikipedia on Laccase

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Wow, that is what i call a post, fantastic and i love mycology stuff so will follow you.

Thanks for that!

magic mushroom

Nice post, thanks for the follow too, followed you right back @rishherbalist

Great photo!

There are so many pretty polypores! I wonder what sort of poundage or tonnage is being harvested to support industrial uses of these bracket fungus! Nice to see you using your KOH. The color changes in mushrooms is so fascinating. I found some boletes yesterday that sure stain blue, so quickly. And so many Dyer's Polypores this fall, with their fast-staining brown reaction. Here's to fun with fungi! :D

It's a big step for me finally getting some reagents ready. Also, sneak peak, I should have another important advancement coming soon. It should be able to calibrate my microscope so that I can measure Spore size and other characteristics. For number of mushrooms specifically anything terrestrial very small and brown or white, this kind of microscopic work can be very important. I still won't be able to do the really detailed stuff at least not until I get a new microscope that's a little bit better. But this should add yet another element of detail to these posts, which I'm excited about.

That is pretty exciting! Macrocharacteristics can only get us so far, that's for sure! And then you can work on that DNA lab! DNA analysis has changed so much of what's known about fungi speciation these days! Especially with splitting up what were thought to be one species for so long. It's hard to keep up with it all. And then there's the reclassification changes, too. I'm looking forward to your microscope efforts and seeing how it changes how you are working with the various mushrooms! :D

As a self-proclaimed mushroom nerd you are speaking to my heart. I look forward to viewing your work. Thank you for creating excellent content.

Glad you found me - always looking for other mycology buffs

I really appreciate your deep knowledge of mushrooms including this particular variety but more importantly I appreciate that fact that you tell people that your descriptions are not scientific fact and are geared for entertainment purposes mostly.

your posts are always a nice surprise in my feed :D

I appreciate your saying that - it's turned into a fulfilling exercise for me too.

Upvoted and RESTEEMED!

That's amazing...i like your post. Thank you for your sharing

nice post dber, very informative and great photos. I've always be interested in mycology and recently was able to buy a copy of mycelium running (which I'm sure you know about) after wanting it for a few years. I was very excited to get it. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for the kind words - and welcome to the hobby. I haven't read his book, but Stamets is totally awesome. Let me know how it is!

Hey! Another amazing post! I just posted another Voyage into my life journey. Check it out! It's about my travels across the world! Hope you like it!

Yeah it tastes well. I tried it just after 2 days when I noted on a post of yours that I never had it..! :)

What tastes well? Do not eat random mushrooms - i specifically abd carefully tell people not to do that and I never even talk about edibility. Without anymore information this comment is not appropriate and dangerous. I am flagging it.

It was bought from a shop. Well it was edible. As you have mentioned in the previous conversation ' You can buy it from a shop and taste it'.

Ah ok - I'm sorry for the draconian response, but its very important when talking about eating mushrooms that you be specific -otherwise people can misunderstand and think you tried this mushroom.

Which mushroom did you buy?

I understand. So no problem for that response.

Well it was caesar's mushroom.

resteemed and upvoted thank you for share this post with us

Does not look tasty at all.. Chicken of the Woods on the other hand looks meaty.

I do not post these for foraging purposes and do not make comments about edibility, period. Also do not judge the edibility of wild mushrooms based on how edible they look in an intuitive sense. Prettiness or ugliness or even looking tasty have nothing to do with edibility.

That looks suspicious? Are you suppose to eat that

I never said you should eat that - nor do i ever talk about edibility period.

very beneficial post

Congratulations @dber, this post is the fifth most rewarded post (based on pending payouts) in the last 12 hours written by a Superuser account holder (accounts that hold between 1 and 10 Mega Vests). The total number of posts by Superuser account holders during this period was 884 and the total pending payments to posts in this category was $4255.06. To see the full list of highest paid posts across all accounts categories, click here.

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Such a useful post!
Thanks for sharing the video with us.
I've resteemed your post!
please up vote this comment.

some outstanding click,very nice post

Excellent, I invite you to check my profile so they can see my content and if they like to VOTE. REGARDS

I've flagged this comment because it appears totally general and implies that this and other wild mushrooms are edible - and I feel leaving it unflagged and visible would be inappropriate and dangerous. I specifically warn against eating wild mushrooms without proper assistance and information and from now on will flag any generalized comments which baldy encourage such behavior without any other specific information. If you edit your comment to include more specific information, either relevant to this post or a specific mushroom you're talking about and which nonetheless discusses edibility in an informed way, I may un-flag the comment.

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