By this point everyone knows this is the time of year to look for those large fleshy “hen of the woods”. So you’re out searching around those large old oaks and you spot one. You kneel and pick it and it’s connected to a black underground tuber. The caps are all round, this isn’t Griffola. Relax, you’ve found the umbrella polypore and it’s a really special find.

This is another of those fungi that I just don’t find. I hope that by writing this my luck will change as it did with the cauliflower mushroom. When you find the umbrella take care to cut the many capped branches away from the dirty tuber. This makes cleaning at home much easier and if you don’t disturb the tuber perhaps it will fruit again. This is to me the most delicious of all polypores. I even find the flavor to be superior to Griffola. Try a simple sauté with good olive oil and garlic and toss with you favorite pasta and hard cheese.

I’ve never found enough of the umbrella to consider preserving, but I believe any of the methods previously discussed here would be quite successful.

If you do find the umbrella, remember that it fruits both spring and fall. Mark that spot in your mind or your GPS and check it often.

Enjoy the Indian summer, winter will be upon us soon enough.

Steve Peek
Field mycologist and long standing member of the Asheville Mushroom