Woody shelves may be several years old. They add a new layer of spore tissue every growing season. The old layer is covered by the new one. These layers look like growth rings in a tree. Ten layers may mean the shelf is 10 years-old if there is only one growing season (spring). If there are two growing seasons per year (spring and fall), it may only be 5 years-old.
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Woody shelves are impossible to break with your hands and difficult to cut. This toughness results from the kinds of hyphae (filaments) that are used to construct the shelf. Easily crushed mushrooms are made of thin-walled hyphae. Some of the hyphae in woody shelves are thick-walled and the hyphae are interwoven making them tougher. They resist tearing or splitting because there are no planes to split along in the tissue.
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