FunDiS West Coast Rare Fungi Challenge

Prepared by:  Tiffany Theden, Else C. Vellinga, Alex Mayberry & Roo Vandegrift
Did you know there's a mushroom

that grows on Sagebrush?

It’s a small conk that is only known from a few spots in the sagebrush habitats in Southern California. We wonder if is it only found in the southern parts of the sagebrush’s area of distribution, or whether it can be found throughout the range - an area which covers large swathes of the West. Are there any other mushrooms that grow in this same habitat? Mycologists don’t really go mushrooming in the vast, dry areas covered by sagebrush, but who knows, there might be other unique, endemic species to be discovered!


The Sagebrush conk does not form a distinct shelf, but is attached to the sagebrush branch over the whole distance of its back. It is around 2 inches wide, about an inch deep at the top, with a greyish brown top. The pores are brown to grey, roundish, with 4–5 per mm, but in the lower part of the fruitbody they can reach 2 mm long. The pore surface often shows deep cracks in it. The triangular shape of the fruitbody is revealed when one cuts it in half lengthwise, which also reveals the layers of tubes. The tubes can be up to 5 mm long.

What else could it be?

This is really the only species known to grow on sagebrush. Manzanitas, Chamise and very occasionally Mountain-mahogany can be host to the Manzanita conk (Ph. arctostaphyli). That species has a much flatter fruitbody that sticks out from the shrub’s trunk. Its pores are a bit smaller and round, 5–6 per mm, and it is has not been found on Sagebrush; it is not uncommon on Manzanita. Both can be found the whole year round.

Never eat wild mushrooms without a confident identification!

Contact Poison Control if you think you have eaten a poisonous mushroom: 1-800-222-1222

When & Where?

This species can be found year round, like most woody conks. If you do happen to spot one take photos of it, and the bush it is growing on. If there are a few specimens around, do pick one, but leave the others. If there is only one, take as many photos as possible, from all sides, and don’t forget to snap a photo of the habitat as well.


Big Sagebrush can be recognized by the 3 teeth at the tips of each leaf, pleasant fragrance when the leaves are crushed, and the color: blueish grey-green leaves that are soft and slightly fuzzy. The species name tridentata means “3 teeth”.

More information

Vlasák J & Vlasák Jr. J. 2017. Phellinus artemisiae sp. Nov. (Basidiomycota, Hymenochaetaceae), from western USA. Phytotaxa, 303: 93.
iNaturalist (0 obs.):
Mushroom Observer (0 obs.):

What to do if you find it:

Make an observation

The first thing to do is to record your observation. We prefer to use the iNaturalist app for that (visit www.iNaturalist.org to learn more), but you could also upload your observation to Mushroom Observer (visit www.MushroomObserver.org). The QR code to the right will take you to the Fungal Diversity Survey (FunDiS for short) website to explain how to contribute to the project.

The best thing you can do is take lots of photographs and notes. Typically, smartphones will automatically georeference any photos taken, but it is good practice to note your exact location, preferably with GPS coordinates, and be sure to note what trees are nearby, and any other salient features. For example, was the mushroom growing under a madrone or a manzanita, and if so, what species?

Collect a specimen

If you are in an area where it is allowed and have any necessary permits, we strongly urge you to create a vouchered collection. This means a dried specimen for deposit in a herbarium, where researchers can access it for things like DNA sequencing. If you don’t know how to do this, please see: 


In California, collecting mushrooms is usually allowed in National Forests with a permit. Permits can be obtained at the headquarters of the National Forest you're visiting, and are usually inexpensive or free. However, restrictions vary among the individual National Forests, so make sure to find out the specifics when picking up your permit. State and County Parks generally do not allow mushroom picking, but regulations vary, so make sure to check your destination before you go out. In Oregon, most State and Federal lands allow collecting up to a gallon without a permit, but again, regulations vary, so check ahead of time. 

Don’t forget to look for other mushrooms and fungi while you’re there! Like other Rare Fungi, part of why this mushroom is rare is because it grows in a place that mushroom pickers don’t generally go: sagebrush shrublands! Since you’ve already got iNaturalist open, why not record your other finds?

Most mushrooms are like fruit: picking an apple from an apple tree doesn’t hurt the tree. In the same way, harvesting mushrooms does not generally hurt the mycelium of the fungus. We do still recommend leaving some mushrooms behind, and not picking perennial mushrooms, like brackets and conks.

Who to contact

If you think you’ve found this mushroom, and you’re not sure about any of the above, such as how to report the find, whether you can collect it, or what to do with it once you have collected it, please contact us! 


About Fungal Diversity Survey

FunDiS is dedicated to a world in which the fungal kingdom is fully documented, understood, appreciated and protected.

Fungal Diversity Survey
10385 Green Meadow Rd
Sebastopol, CA 95472