Category Archives: Phaeolus schweinitzii (Dyer’s polypore)

Strong golds, browns and greens come from this mushroom abundant polypore.

Dyer’s Polypore

Dyer's Polypore - Phaeolus schweinizii
Dyer's Polypore - Phaeolus schweinizii

Named Dyer’s Polypore with good reason, this beautiful bracket fungus is filled with pigment – good, strong, gold pigment. It’s an annual, meaning it grows for one season, then dries up, only to come back in the same place next year. It looks like this when it’s young, when the white edges appear almost fuzzy. As they get older, they become a rich, reddish brown.

Young phaeolus give a rich gold colour, while the older ones give a darker golden brown.

Phaeolus dyepot in the winter
Phaeolus dyepot in the winter

I found a huge, sodden Phaeolus in the forest last week, so I boiled it for an hour or so, then strained the bits out for the dyebath.  This is what resulted – the skeins were mordanted (l to r) with copper, alum, and iron. That’s a silk scarf (tie-dyed) in the middle, and at the bottom are silk noil and a piece of unknown silk, both unmordanted (added as an afterthought).

Skeins dyed with Dyer's Polypore
Skeins dyed with Dyer's Polypore

I love the rich, rich gold of the top skein in this image. That one I dyed with a young Phaeolus, still with the band of white at its edge, and I couldn’t believe the colour! The three skeins at the bottom are from the dyepot I talk about above – the light gives a better rendition of their colour in this image, but now the mordants are (l to r) alum, copper, and iron. The small skeins are from November’s mushroom workshop; the three on top from a fresh mushroom, and the three on bottom from old mushrooms, whose  colour wasn’t very intense, for some reason.

On my walk through the woods today, I found another little patch of pink coral mushrooms, so they’re simmering away in the mud room – perhaps this is the one that will give me a real Purple!

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