How to Identify Beef Steak Fungus (Fistulina Hepatica)
Common names: Beef Steak, Ox Tongue
Botanical name: Fistulina Hepatica
Meaning of botanical name: Fistulina, refers to the underside of this mushroom and its separate small tubes or pores. Hepatica means it’s liver like.
Could be confused with..
Inonotus hispidus, the Shaggy Bracket ( which has a velvet like upper surface and the beef steak has a smooth surface becoming quite slimy when wet)
Range and distribution
Found throughout the UK, mainland Europe and parts of North America
Found growing on mainly Oak or Sweet Chestnut trees, usually low down on the trunk of the tree or in a hollow. It will grow on both living a dead trees
This mushroom is very distinctive with its pink-red flesh, it’s a bracket fungus so is like a plate or disk emerging from the tree with very little stem where it attaches itself. The upper surface is smooth and glossy especially when wet, when it can be quite slimy. The underside has small tubes or pores which are a creamy pink colour. A cross-section of the mushroom the flesh inside is red with white marbling much like that of a good steak (hence its common name).
If you squeeze the flesh of this mushroom it will produce red blood-like liquid.
Folk law, tall tales and not so folk law
The oak wood infected with this fungus is highly prized by woodturners as it has a much darker colour than non-infected wood.
There is some suggestion that this mushroom has antimicrobial, antiparasitic and can help stop cancerous growth.
This mushroom contains oxalic acid which gives it a slight bitter & sour flavour
Tips and Observations
This mushroom can be used in many dishes, older specimens can be boiled to make a stock, young ones can be thinly sliced and eaten raw or cooked.