Artists’ conk

I just finished writing 10 Routes That Crossed the World, due to be published next April. So trails are on my mind…..

On a hike along Reinecker Creek trail (above Margaret Falls in Herald Provincial Park) recently, I found something of interest.

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This huge fungus is called a conk. It is one of over 1000 species of polypores (a group of fungi). Its presence on the tree trunk means there is probably a fair amount of decay inside the tree. Spores on the underside of this fungus will spread the infection to other trees through an open wound, or via insects or birds. For instance, a woodpecker might take the spores from this tree to another one.

Conks can vary in size; this is one of the largest I’ve seen. They can be different colors, but the large white under surface can be used by artists—hence the name ‘artists’ conk’. Scratching it, or rubbing will create a design that will remain once the conk has dried. Might be a neat place to write a story!

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