Phanerochaete is a genus of corticioid, lignicolous, white rot saprotrophs, with variably smooth, tuberculate, or spiny spore-bearing surfaces, inamyloid, smooth, thin-walled spores, and monomitic hyphal construction. The group was monographed by Burdsall (1985), who recognized three subgenera on the basis of presence/absence and position of cystidia, and basidiocarp structure. Burdsall accepted 46 species in Phanerochaete, but 153 epithets have been published under Phanerochaete according to Mycobank. Parmasto et al. (2004) recognized 88 species of Phanerochaete, including 49 species that were described or transferred into Phanerochaete since Burdsall’s monograph. Thus, there are significant specieslevel problems in the taxonomy of Phanerochaete. Burdsall and others have commented on the morphological similarities of Phanerochaete to resupinate genera such as Athelia, Athelidium, Candelabrochaete, Ceraceomyces, Meruliopsis, Peniophora, Phlebia, Phlebiopsis, Rhizochaete, Scopuloides, and others.

Several phylogenetic studies have suggested that Phanerochaete is polyphyletic , although other studies have found Phanerochaete to be monophyletic. The most intensive molecular study focused on Phanerochaete so far is that of de Koker et al. (2003), who sampled 39 isolates representing 24 species of Phanerochaete, and 21 isolates representing taxa related to Phanerochaete. Using ITS sequences, de Koker et al. resolved four clades containing Phanerochaete species. Phanerochaete sordida was found to be polyphyletic. The analysis of Binder et al. (2005) included only four species of Phanerochaete, but a much larger sample of related taxa, and placed the Phanerochaete species in three separate clades.