It was wonderful to find my old friend Inonotus dryadeus (also known as Oak Bracket) back in Clissold on Monday. Calling a bracket fungus a friend may seem a bit weird but having not seen this amber beauty for 8 years it was joyous to rediscover it on the same veteran plum tree where it fruited in 2008. Surely knowing an organism as beautiful as this for 8 years and it making me smile at first sight is a pretty good basis for a friendship, no? It certainly worked for me.
It is also a superb demonstration as to why retaining tree stumps and urban veteran trees is so important. This is not a common fungus. It usually occurs on old oak trees, hence the common name. But we don't have many old oak trees in Hackney so this one is making the best of the hard heartwood of this old purple plum. However since purple plums are small trees the fungi only has a limited food resource so this could be the last time it fruits here!
The tree was cut down about 10 years ago but the rootstock is still alive and therefore continues to produce new wood. This also means new dead heartwood, as the new sapwood becomes dysfunctional, for the fungus to feed on. So if the suckers are allowed to grow on a bit there's a chance the fungus and tree could live togther for many more years.
So protect those knackered old trees and stumps. There's gold in them there trees!
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