17 May 2024

Critter of the Week: putawa or bracket fungus

From Afternoons, 3:35 pm on 17 May 2024

This week’s critter is the pūtawa or bracket fungus (also known as white punk, pangu or morepork bread). The fruiting body of this fungus looks a bit like a caramel-coloured flying saucer that crashed into a tree. Pūtawa can grow to be 30 cm across and 10 cm thick.

Pūtawa has a fascinating history. Dried pūtawa burns very slowly and can even hold an ember for days, so it was a very important fire-lighting tool for Māori. Smouldering pūtawa could easily be moved from place to place to start new fires. 

Pūtawa - bracket fungus

Pūtawa - bracket fungus Photo: supplied via Forest and Bird