A.Stephen Quarles, cooperative extension advisor on wood durability at the University of California Forest Products Laboratory in Richmond, Calif., responds: Yes, there are laboratories that can identify fungi based on culturing samples taken from decayed wood on site, but the process can be time consuming and the service may not be free. Two laboratories that provide the service are the Center for Forest Mycology Research at the U.S. Forest Products Lab in Madison, Wisc. (contact Harold Burdsall, 608/231-9234), and the Department of Forest Products at Oregon State University in Corvallis (contact Jeffrey Morrell, 541/737-4222). Should you decide to pursue this, call Dr. Burdsall or Professor Morrell for specifics on how to collect and prepare the sample for shipment.

Because the laboratory procedure can take a month or longer to complete, it may be safer for you to diagnose it in the field. Meruliporia incrassata (the recently changed scientific name for poria) can be identified by the presence of the water-conducting rootlike tube called a rhizomorph and by the appearance of the fruiting body and the dark...

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