Lentinus ponderosus: Neolentinus ponderosus
Cap 7.0-30.0 cm broad, convex, becoming plano-convex, the disc at maturity typically depressed to umbilicate; margin inrolled becoming decurved to plane; surface dry, glabrous, often with broad, buff-brown to light-brown, appressed scales over a cream-colored background, patchy areolate in dry weather, tending yellowing where handled or in age and sometimes deep tawny-brown to orange brown in old specimens; context, white, firm, tough, up to 1.5 cm thick, unchanging or erratically yellowish to tawny-brown where injured, e.g. worm holes; odor mild, spicy-aromatic in some collections; taste mild.
Gills adnate to decurrent, close in youth, subdistant in age, relatively broad, up to 1.0 cm, cream-colored, becoming buff to tan-brown; edges serrate to ragged; lamellulae 4 to 5-seried.
Stipe 6.0-16.0 cm long, 2.5-7.0 cm thick, gradually narrowed toward the base, solid, tough, central to eccentric in attachment; surface of apex ridged from gill edges, cream-colored, the lower portion with covered with brownish squamules, in age sometimes tawny-brown to orange-brown; partial veil absent.
Spores 8.5-10.0 x 3.5-4.0 µm, narrowly elliptical in face-view, inequilateral with a slight belly in side-view, smooth, thin-walled, with an evident hilar appendage; spore print whitish to cream-buff.
Solitary, scattered to clustered, near, or at the base of conifer stumps and logs; common in the Sierra, rare at low elevations; fruiting from late spring to late summer.
Edible and excellent, especially when young. Because of its toughness, either slice Neolentinus ponderosus paper thin or parboil it thoroughly.
This large, lignicolous species is commonly found during the summer months in the Sierra and higher elevations of the Coast Range. In the Sierras it frequently grows at the base of dead Lodgepole pines. Identifying features include a cream-colored cap with appressed coarse, brownish scales, decurrent, toothed gills and the lack of a partial veil. Mature fruiting bodies are slow to decay and may persist for weeks A close but uncommon relative is Neolentinus lepideus. It is significantly smaller (cap only up to 10 cm broad) less robust, with erect, not appressed cap scales, and an annulus. Many mycologists noting the toughness of the context and DNA evidence, believe Neolentinus is a "gilled" polypore.