Medicinal Fungal Finds

Healing Fungi Thrive on Damaged Land

My Mate and I took our dog (“Questor”, named for the question mark on his forehead), for a walk in the woods across the road today. This is actually scrubby bush compared to Temagami and Muskoka, only a couple of decades since it was last clear-cut or grazed, and that is evident in the lack of fungal life there.

The only things we found turned out to be medicinal mushrooms. There are few old birches back there, and I understand they are concidered to be healing trees. Several of the mushrooms that grow on them are highly prized for their healing properties. The foremost among these is chaga (Inonotus obliquus) but we didn’t run into that. I did find the nicest freshest Birch PolyPore ( Piptoporus betulinus ), Tinder Fungus ( Fomes fomentarius ) and Turkey Tail ( Tramates versicolor ). Maybe these fungi are healing the land.

I have T. versicolor growing back at our place. But gathered a few Tinders, and the Birch polypores. A couple of the branches of birch were quite sound and portable, so we brought them back, to keep with our other inoculated logs and perhaps to use to noc up more birch in the spring.

I’m doing research into the history and uses of these fungi, but for now you could check out Ötzi The Ice Man. Apparently 5316 years ago he had two of these mushrooms in his survival kit as he struggled to escape his pursuers and perished in a blizzard:

oetzitheiceman-glacier-199109aIn addition, among Ötzi’s possessions were berries, two birch bark baskets, and two species of polypore mushrooms with leather strings through them. One of these, the birch fungus, is known to have anthelmintic properties, and was probably used for medicinal purposes.[39] The other was a type of tinder fungus, included with part of what appeared to be a complex firelighting kit. The kit featured pieces of over a dozen different plants, in addition to flint and pyrite for creating sparks.