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Quick facts

Common names: beefsteak fungus, ox tongue fungus

Scientific name: Fistulina hepatica

Family: Fistulinaceae

Fruiting season: late summer to autumn, but not persisting through the winter

Habitat: broadleaved woodland

What does beefsteak fungus look like? 

When young, this bracket fungus looks like a tongue poking out of a tree trunk. As it matures, it begins to look more like a piece of raw steak or liver.

Cap: a semi-circular red or red/pink/brown bracket up to 25cm across and 6cm thick. It has an inflated edge when young which flattens with age. Feels moist or sticky to the touch.

Gills/spores: the underside is made up of small, cream-coloured pores – which release spores – turning reddish-brown as it ages and bruising deep red-brown. Spores are pale pink, egg-shaped and smooth.

Not to be confused with: shaggy bracket (Inotus hispidus), which is similar, but yellow in colour.

Beefsteak fungus on a tree trunk

Credit: www.pqpictures.co.uk / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to find beefsteak fungus

Beefsteak fungus is common in the UK. It is usually found in broadleaved woodland, low on the trunks of oak trees and sometimes on recently-cut oak stumps.

Did you know?

It causes brown rot in oak, giving the timber a rich colour known as brown oak, which is much sought after by furniture makers. If the tree is only partially infected, the result is the beautiful ‘tiger stripe oak’.

Uses of beefsteak fungus

Although considered edible, beefsteak fungus does not live up to the promise of its appearance, having a strongly acidic flavour and rubbery texture.