Scientific Name: Fistulina hepatica (Fistulinaceae). Fistulina = 'little tubes'; hepatica = 'liver like'.
English Name: Beefsteak Fungus; Ox Tongue Fungus (a bracket fungus).
French Name: Langue de boeuf (='ox tongue'); Foie de boeuf (='ox liver'); Fistuline hépatique (='liver like little tubes').
5 Key Characters:
- looks like a beef liver.
- if cut into slices looks very like raw beef and 'bleeds'.
- mature fungus is deep red on top.
- rough surface on top.
- pores underneath are straw coloured to begin with, turning dark red brown with age or bruising.
Lookalikes: Shaggy Bracket Inonotus hispidus, which is much rarer, has a hairy upper surface and occurs on apple trees as well as oaks.
Habitat: Low down on tree trunks, especially Oak trees Quercus spp and Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa. The host tree may be alive, but is often dead.
Fruiting Period: July-August-September-October.
Status: Widespread and quite common.
Edible or Toxic? Considered edible but rather an aquired taste. Local French fans will advise marinating in vinaigrette and eating raw. Other places advise simmering long and slow otherwise it is tough and chewy. Only young specimens are worth trying. Does not taste at all like beef.
Photographed by Loire Valley Nature: