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Beefsteak Polypore (Fistulina hepatica)

Being as there are no toxic members of the polypore family, familiarizing yourself with the four choicely edible members of this family, the Beefsteak Mushroom, Oyster Mushroom, Hen of the Woods, and the Chicken Mushroom is an excellent idea of the beginner mushroom hunter.

Other Names:



Note: Wide ranging genus, but more common in the Eastern US


Fistulinaceae– Beefsteak family

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

This mushroom looks and tastes remarkably like beefsteak. Like a steak, it is pink inside, gelatinous and marbled in appearance. When it's young, it even bleeds a reddish juice when you cut it. As it ages, the color fades to reddish-brown, and the flesh dries out.


The cap is 3" - 10" wide, and ¾" - 1½" thick, spoon-shaped to fan-shaped, flat, reddish, soft, and slimy.


Can be 2"-4" long, and 3/8"-1¼" thick, very short, and blood-red.


10 - 15 mm long; free


1 mm wide; circular; whitish to yellowish-buff, becoming reddish-brown.


4.5 - 6 x 3 - 4 µ; oval, smooth, colorless to pale yellow.

Spore Print:



Shelf mushroom ¾" - 1½" thick.

Miscellaneous characteristics:


National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms Description:

Fleshy, somewhat gelatinous, juicy, spoon-shaped, to semicircular, flat, reddish cap with separate tubes and off-white to pinkish-yellow pores.

Cap: 3"-10" wide, while the flesh is 2-2½" thick.

Stalk: can be 2"-4" long, and 3/8"-1¼" thick, very short, and blood-red.

Spores: oval, smooth, colorless to pale yellow. Spore print pinkish-salmon.




On dead oak trunks and stumps, or at base of living oaks.

Parts Used:

Entire young mushroom




Wild Food Uses:

The tender young flesh is wonderful sautéed in butter. I reserve the older specimens for soups and stews. As the name would imply, this mushroom has been used as a meat substitute. While I have used it in stews to 'extend' the meat I had, on its own I find it to be a poor substitute for meat.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

None Known

Medicinal Actions:



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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield