Fomitopsis betulina: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Fomitopsis betulina Mushroom
Fomitopsis betulina (previously Piptoporus Betulinus) habitat on dead birch trees and logs, or occasionally on living trees. The species is an attractive polypore, easily recognized by its habitat on birch wood and the fact that the cap folds over to make a distinctive, smooth rim around the pore surface.
The caps are whitish to brownish, and the pore surface is whitish or grayish brown. Although Piptoporus Betulinus is annual and does not actually live for more than one season, its fruiting bodies are somewhat tough and are sometimes found in the next year (usually somewhat blackened).
It is edible, but it has quite a bitter aftertaste so it’s not the most desirable for food, but it is not poisonous.
Other names: Birch Polypore.
Fomitopsis betulina Identification
This very common polypore is grey-brown at first and almost spherical, flattening and turning browner on top and white underneath as it matures.
10 to 25cm in diameter and 2 to 6cm thick when fully mature, the fruiting bodies arise singly but there are often several on the same host tree so that from a distance they look like a series of steps.
Tubes and Pores
The small white tubes are packed together at a density of 3 or 4 per mm; they are between 1.5 and 5mm deep and terminate in white pores that turn buff as they age.
The spore print is white. Cylindrical to ellipsoidal, smooth; 4-6 x 1.3-2μm.
Fomitopsis betulina Medicinal Uses
This mushroom has amazing properties such as an anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-bacterial, and styptic properties alone make it good for making an immune tonic or tea to be taken once a week to boost your immune system.
Birch polypore contains primary metabolites (polysaccharides) and secondary metabolites (such as triterpenes) that are beneficial for health. Research also backs up its traditional uses.
Research has also shown that the natural compounds in this fungus can be effective in fighting HIV and Cancer.
It is useful to support the treatment of cancer in several ways. Alongside providing general support to the immune system, it also inhibits angiogenesis, the formation of new blood cells that occurs in tumor growth.
In one study anti-cancer effects were “attributed to decreased tumor cell proliferation, motility and the induction of morphological changes. Of note is the fact that it produced no or low toxicity in tested normal cells.”
Another in vitro study on colorectal cancer showed that “Studied extracts highly decreased the viability of cancer cells, slightly inhibiting proliferation and tumor cell adhesion in a time- and dose-dependent manner.” It also found that the extracts studied had very low toxicity to normal cells making it a safe and effective treatment.
One facet of the birch polypore’s healing actions is the concentration of betulinic acid which it potentiates from its host tree. Betulinic acid has been shown in various studies to initiate apoptosis or death of cancer cells.
In 2001, an extract of birch polypore containing betulinic acid showed useful antiviral action against HIV by blocking its reproduction.
Fomitopsis betulina Storage
Mushrooms don’t keep for very long once you’ve picked them, so how you keep them is important. Drying is the best method to keep them for longer and have them still be useful. Once dried you can keep them in a paper bag, or a sealed jar in a dry place, out of direct sunlight.
Fomitopsis betulina Tonic and Tea Recipe
Before start preparing tea or tonic you need to put fungus into gently simmering water for an hour. You can make 1 cup of tea/tonic with 6 to 8 grams of mushroom; So weigh your polypore pieces and adjust accordingly to make a batch.
Sometimes, the taste can still be a little bitter, so why not freeze the extra into ice cubes. You can drop these into soups, stews, gravy, etc. to disguise the taste but still get the health benefits.
Fomitopsis betulina Other Uses
As well as a razor strop and sticking plaster, as mentioned earlier, apparently it has also been used for the fine polishing of metals, making ink blotters, and for mounting insect collections. One use that would have been important in ancient times, is that it takes a spark well, and can be used to carry fire over long distances. Therefore allowing people to move around without the hassle of fire-lighting from scratch.
Fomitopsis betulina Taxonomy
In 1753 Carl Linnaeus described this fungus and referred to it as Boletus suberosus, and later the French mycologist Jean Baptiste Francois (Pierre) Bulliard changed the specific epithet to betulinus - a reference to the birch trees (Betula spp.) on which it occurs.
It was also Bulliard who, in 1821, transferred this very common and widespread polypore to the genus Polyporus, where it rested in peace for another sixty years. Then, in 1881, the Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten (1834 - 1917) moved the Birch Polypore to a new genus, Piptoporus, which he had created and where it resides with just two other species, both rare, that are known to occur in Britain.
Piptoporus betulinus - a young fruitbody of which is pictured on the left - is the type species of the genus Piptoporus.)
The Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus has gathered several synonyms down the centuries including Agarico-pulpa pseudoagaricon Paulet, Boletus suberosus L., Boletus betulinus Bull., Polyporus betulinus (Bull.) Fr., and Ungulina betulina (Bull.) Pat.
Fomitopsis betulina Etymology
The generic name Piptoporus implies that these fungi have pores (from the -porus suffix) and that (from the pipt- prefix which comes from the Greek verb piptein meaning 'to fall' ) they are easily detachable or fall off; betulinus, the specific epithet, means 'of birch trees'.
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