- Pheasant Back, Cerioporus squamosus
It is late June on the Isle of Arran and many UK wild foods are flourishing. The mushroom foraging season is not far off now. One of the earliest mushrooms to appear is this beautiful and huge bracket fungus known as Dryad's Saddle. The typical season for this one is April to June, with the tastier young mushrooms beginning available April and May.
Dryad's Saddle is an edible and plentiful wild mushroom. It appears early in the season and it’s one of the biggest mushrooms in the UK. These mushrooms grow in woodlands so they became associated with Dryads. Dryads are mythical woodland creatures from Greek mythology.
Dryads were thought to rest on these mushrooms while doing their magical business. This is how the mushroom got its name. They really do look like comfy forest seats climbing through the understory for fairies to rest on.
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Dryad's Saddle mushrooms are bracket fungi species.
These mushrooms have big, scaly caps that can be over 60 cm wide, making them the UK's biggest cap mushroom.
The mushrooms have a short stalk, approximately 6 cm in length.
They have large, yellowish-white pores on the underside of the cap. The pores are irregular and very obvious.
Dryad's Saddle mushrooms grow on hardwood trees and dead logs.
They typically fruit from April to May but can occasionally fruit later in the year.
They are also known as Pheasant Back Mushroom or Pheasant Mushroom.
Best when very young.
Eating and Taste
They are edible, however they need to be eaten incredibly young to be worthwhile. The older ones can be tough and difficult to digest.
Look out for the trees and logs that these mushrooms appear on and go back next year. The start of May is the best time to forage young Dryad's Saddle mushrooms on the Isle of Arran. Older mushrooms can still be dried to make mushroom powder for stock and seasoning.
Lookalikes to be aware of
This is an excellent beginner mushroom. Dryad’s Saddle looks unlike any other mushroom, especially given its relatively early appearance in the season. Dryad's Saddle is one of the first mushrooms to appear in summer, even before most other mushrooms. It is certainly the first huge mushroom you’ll see.