Dryad’s Saddle: A Mushroom Accompanying Spring Wildflowers

Leonard Weber

April 17, 2023

Though the exact dates vary, the spring woodland wildflowers appear in their fascinating variety every year in Eliza Howell Park in late April and/or early May.

And every year, as wildflower admirers walk the woodland path admiring the Trout Lilies and the Spring Beauties, we inevitably note another equally reliable spring emergent, the mushroom known as Dryad’s Saddle.

Dryad’s Saddle, sometimes also known as Pheasant Back, is a mushroom that grows on deciduous trees, usually on standing dead wood, sometimes on logs, and sometimes in wounds of living trees.

When the mushroom first emerges, it resembles a wine cork.

The cap grows quickly and can reach the size of 10 – 12 inches across. The mushrooms are sometimes solitary, sometimes in overlapping clusters

Dryads are creatures in Greek mythology who presumably could sit on the saddle-shaped mushroom. The “pheasant back” name is based on someone’s comparison of the mushrooms colors to pheasant feathers.

Although Dryad’s Saddle is occasionally found in the summer or in the fall, it is most common here during late April and early May. The dates of my first sighting in Eliza Howell over the years 2019 through 2023 are: April 28, April 26, April 18, April 29, and April 14.

The next photo is of a recently discovered growth that I am planning to check regularly to track the development. My efforts do this in the past have ended abruptly when someone harvested the edible mushrooms after a few days.

While most of my attention during the last two weeks of April is on spring birds and spring flowers, Dryad’s Saddle manages to compete successfully for its share!

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