Ganoderma: More Than Skin Deep

Click for larger image at Flickr

I had to look it up, to know what the “gano” part told about the derma or skin of this fungus. It means “shining” and in this case, it certainly fits.

I’ve known the genus of this familiar pore fungus commonly seen around here on Eastern Hemlock–back when there were Eastern Hemlocks. That species was host-specific and named Ganoderma tsugae, after the genus for hemlocks (and as a few may recall was the commemorative name we gave our pup, Tsuga, named after a favorite once-upon-a-time tree.)

So when we found these lacquered and colorful ear-shaped specimens on a Goose Creek meander last week, I felt confident of my identification to genus, but looked it up anyway. Maybe I’d learn something. I did.

Seems that Ganoderma has a long history of use for an astounding variety of purported health issues. Some efficacy may even be supported by fact.

When the kids grew up, we also frequently found another Ganoderma species commonly known as “artist’s conch” because its off-white pore surface would scratch from light to dark with the stroke of a match, nail or stick. The kids wrote their names or drew pictures on them. You could trim the bottom of one broken off its host tree so that it would sit upright on the mantel for display.

So here are some Ganoderma links for me to come back to. Feel free to poke around yourself.  And you might check out the Google images to get an idea of the variability–which is considerable.

Ganoderma Lucidum for curing Diabetes. | Serenity Corner

Ganoderma Lucidum-Nutritional-Supplements

Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi) – Herbal Medicine – NCBI Bookshelf

Dangers of Ganoderma | LIVESTRONG.COM

Ganoderma applanatum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Artist’s Conch

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I always called these shelf fungi because I know virtually nothing about fungi. Those Google images were incredible! Allen always photographs them so I bet he will enjoy that link!