Coral-Pink Merulius

Phlebia incarnata (formerly Merulius incarnatus)

Small, semicircular, pinkish coral bracket fungus; pinkish to cream-colored, wrinkled, and veined beneath. Grows on dead logs and stumps of deciduous trees. Summer–fall. Cap semicircular with a wavy margin; pinkish coral, turning salmon to cream-colored; texture finely hairy. Underside pinkish to cream-colored; porelike, with radiating, wrinkled, and veined, branched folds. Stalk not present. Spore print white. Spores magnified are elliptical, smooth, colorless.

There are no lookalikes in Missouri.

Cap width: ¾–1½ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Grows singly or in layers on dead logs and stumps of deciduous trees. Almost always found growing alongside false turkey tail (Stereum ostrea).
Distribution in Missouri: 
Not edible.
Life cycle: 
This species exists as a network of fungal cells (mycelium) within rotting wood. The mycelium obtains nourishment by digesting, and rotting, the wood. When ready to reproduce, the mycelium develops the brackets outside the wood, which are reproductive structures. Spores are produced in the pores and are released to begin new mycelia elsewhere.
Human connections: 
Mushrooms decorate nature the way wildflowers do, adding to our pleasure on hikes. Many mushrooms are most prominent in the fall, when wildflowers are winding down. When fresh, the color of this mushroom is unusual and pleasing.
Ecosystem connections: 
Fungi are vitally important for a healthy ecosystem. This fungus feeds off of dead or dying trees, decomposing them as it goes. This cleans the forest and helps nutrients to cycle back into the soil — an unglamorous but vital role in the ecosystem.
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