Common nutcracker (Schizophyllum commune)Systematics:
- Department: Basidiomycota (Basidiomycetes)
- Subdivision: Agaricomycotina (Agaricomycetes)
- Class: Agaricomycetes (Agaricomycetes)
- Subclass: Agaricomycetidae (Agaricomycetes)
- Order: Agaricales (Agaric or Lamellar)
- Family: Schizophyllaceae (Schizophyllaceae)
- Genus: Schizophyllum (Nutcracker)
- Species: Schizophyllum commune (Scalewort ordinary)
- Agaricus alneus
- Agaricus multifidus
- Apus alneus
- Merulius alneus
- Merulius communis
- Schizophyllum alneum
- Schizophyllum multifidum
The fruit body of the common cracker consists of a sessile fan-shaped or shell-shaped cap with a diameter of 3 - 5 centimeters (when growing on a horizontal substrate - for example, on the upper or lower surface of a lying log - the caps can take on a bizarrely irregular shape). The surface of the cap is tomentose, slippery in damp weather, sometimes with concentric zones and longitudinal grooves of varying severity. White or grayish in youth, it becomes grayish-brownish with age. The edge is wavy, even or lobed, in old mushrooms it is hard. The leg is barely expressed (if it is, then it is lateral, pubescent) or is absent altogether.
The common cracker's hymenophore has a very characteristic appearance. It looks like very thin, not very frequent or even rare, emanating from almost one point, branching and splitting along the entire length of the plate - from where the mushroom got its name - but in fact these are false plates. In young mushrooms, they are light, pale pink, grayish-pinkish or grayish-yellowish, with age they darken to grayish-brownish. The degree of opening of the slit in the plates depends on the humidity. When the fungus dries up, the gap opens, and the adjacent plates close, protecting the spore-bearing surface and thereby being an excellent adaptation for growing in areas where precipitation occurs sporadically.
The flesh is thin, concentrated mainly at the point of attachment, when fresh it is dense, leathery, when dry it is firm. The smell and taste are soft, expressionless.
The spore powder is whitish, the spores are smooth, from cylindrical to elliptical, 3-4 x 1-1.5 µ in size (some authors indicate a larger size, 5.5-7 x 2-2.5 µ).
Common nutcracker also grows singly, but most often in groups, on dead wood (sometimes on living trees). Causes white wood rot. It can be found on a wide variety of species, both deciduous and coniferous, in forests, gardens and parks, both on dry and dead wood, and on boards, and even on chips and sawdust. Even bales of straw packed in plastic foil are mentioned as rare substrates. A period of active growth in temperate climates from mid-summer to late autumn. Dried fruiting bodies are well preserved until next year. Common nutcracker is found on all continents except Antarctica, representing perhaps the most widespread species of mushrooms.
In Europe and America, common cracker is considered inedible because of its hard consistency. However, it is non-toxic and is used for food in China, several countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as in Latin America, and studies in the Philippines have shown that the common cracker can be cultivated.
Common nutweed can cause diseases in humans (usually sinusitis), more often in children with immunodeficiency conditions, but not necessarily. The diagnosis is complicated by the fact that a large number of mycoses of the respiratory tract are caused by the Aspergillus mold.
Common nutcracker is one of the popular models for studying the sexual reproduction of fungi. If we draw an analogy with animals and flowering plants, then if the most primitive mushrooms have only two sexes (determined by two alleles of one gene), then others have more than two, and the common cracker has more than 28 thousand (more than 300 known alleles of one gene and more than 90 others, which are randomly combined with each other).