Shelf fungus, also called bracket fungus, because it forms a semi-circled shaped form on old or dead trees. Unlike mushrooms, shelf fungus does not have a stem, instead it grows out of the tree bark. The fruiting portion of the fungus is the part that we can see and is also called conks. This fungus is a saprophytic mushroom- thriving off the dead tissue of the tree. The shelf fungus is sturdy and strong, lasting for years through harsh winter storms. In the process of eating the tree's dead tissue through fungal threads that are produced by the spores, the fungus creates space in the tree that may be used by other animals as their home. Often found on logs or snags. Each year, shelf fungus produce a new growth ring on the top surface. These can be counted to determine the age of the fungus, much like the rings on a tree. Counting the layers of the shelf fungus to find its age is a fun activity to do with your field group as they are easy to identify and available year round.