I really like the name “Dryad’s” saddle (Polyporus squamosus) mushroom. Dryad’s are small mystical woodland nymphs from Greek mythology, and these apparently fit perfectly on this fungus. Seeing these tasty mushrooms immediately conjures up images of these shy mystical woodland creatures, but I still have not come across any! This bracket fungus, from a more technical point, can appear abundantly in spring (at the same time when morels appear) to autumn. The host is often Elm, but they can grow on a variety of deciduous woods often in overlapping clusters. This fungus is easily recognizable, as the bracket has a scaly cap resembling pheasant feathers, hence the other common name “pheasants back mushroom”, and the underside (hymenium) contains angular tubes.
The smell of the mushroom resembles that of flour and this fungus is classified as “edible”, but many people do not find this mushroom very tasty in practice, and report it to be inedible and tough. The main reasons for this are that large, old specimens are collected and / or over cooked. It is not a good idea to use these mushrooms in dishes which require prolonged cooking, such as stews or soups, as these fungi will become very leathery. Only young Dryad’s saddles (smaller than the size of your hand) should be collected, sliced, and cooking should be done very quickly over a high heat in some salted butter: about two minutes is enough. This way it will be succulent and tasty, instead of chewing a piece of Dryad’s saddle leather.