Bracket fungi thrive on dead wood, forming shelves or 'brackets' projecting perpendicular from the wood surface, instead of standing on stalks like classic mushrooms. They also have pores rather than gills, as openings for the dispersal of spores.
The size of this fruiting body is however dwarfed by the immensity of the world's (potentially) largest organism, also a fungus, called Armillaria ostoyae, whose underground mycelium covers an area of 965 hectares! Fruiting bodies like brackets and mushrooms are only the visible part that has emerged from the ramifying network of nutrient-gathering hyphae in order to accomplish sexual reproduction and spore dispersal. In the case of this newly discovered individual of Fomitiporia, scientists attribute its large size to the perennial nature of its growth, and the long time that it has been allowed to grow undisturbed.
- BBC News article by Matt Walker
- Dai YC, Cui BK (2011) Fomitiporia ellipsoidea has the largest fruiting body among the fungi. Fungal Biology, in press, doi:10.1016/j.funbio.2011.06.008