Polyporus squamosus
In the spring, the eyes of wild mushroom hunters are focused on just one mushroom: the delectable morel. Blindly, all of those myopic mycophagists walk right past these large, scaly-topped shelf mushrooms as if they were invisible. The Pheasant Back, sometimes called Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus), is an edible mushroom when cooked. But its flavor is quite ordinary. We compare it to the ordinary quality of celery. Nobody ever bites off a piece of celery, chews for a while, then blurts out in amazement, “This is delicious celery!”
If you’re still tempted, here’s an identification tip: The odor of this species is fairly distinctive. No other similar-looking shelf mushroom that has pores on the undersurface will smell like unripe watermelon rind when sliced open.
You can learn more about this mushroom, along with 39 other edible wild mushroom species found around Illinois, including potential look-alikes, in the new book “Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States” (2009 University of Illinois Press).http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/94awe4yz9780252076435.htmlhttp://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/94awe4yz9780252076435.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0