What You Should Know
Fomes fomentarius is a species of fungal plant pathogen found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. The species produces very large polypore fruit bodies that are shaped like a horse's hoof and vary in color from a silvery grey to almost black, though they are normally brown.
It grows on the side of various species of tree, which it infects through broken bark, causing rot.
The species typically continues to live on trees long after they have died, changing from a parasite to a decomposer.
This hoof-shaped conk has a long traditional use as tinder for starting fires. At the following website read about Oetzi, the 5000-year-old "Iceman" who was found in possession of this fungus and perhaps used it to start fires.
Other names: Tinder Fungus, False Tinder Fungus, Hoof Fungus, Tinder Conk, Tinder Polypore, Ice Man Fungus.
Fomes fomentarius Mushroom Identification
Parasitic and saprobic on the wood of hardwoods (especially birches and beech); causing a white rot; growing alone or gregariously; perennial; fairly widely distributed in northern and north-temperate North America
Up to about 20 cm across; shell-shaped to hoof-shaped; with a dull, woody upper surface that is zoned with gray and brownish gray.
Brownish; 2-5 round pores per mm; tube layers indistinct, brown, becoming stuffed with a whitish material.
The spore print is a very pale lemon. Oblong-ellipsoidal, smooth, 15-20 x 5-7μm.
Brownish; thin; hard.
Fomes fomentarius Health Benefits
Fomes fomentarius is more popularly used as tinder for starting fires. But it has numerous alternative medicinal benefits, too, such as:
Betulinic acid in this medicinal mushroom has demonstrated strong antiviral properties. It is so potent that it is now being researched as a potential antiviral treatment for HIV.
This mushroom contains the compound piptamine. This compound has a very potent antibacterial activity. It can kill several bacterial strains, such as E. coli. Ancient texts also revealed that this fungus has been used as a treatment for tuberculosis in 200 AD.
Even from ancient times, Fomes fomentarius has long been used as a natural material to stop bleeding. Surgeons use it during surgeries to stop bleeding. It is highly absorbent and easily keeps in place, which greatly helps in wound care. Hippocrates even described this mushroom in 5th BC as being used for the cauterization of wounds. This earned the medicinal mushroom the name “surgeon’s agaric”.
The Chinese use tinder conk mushroom as part of the treatment for different types of diseases in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They use it for the treatment of throat disease, disease of the uterus, and stomach disease.
Its general supportive action on the immune system aids in enhancing the body’s natural anti-disease ability. It stimulates the various immune cells and processes that discourage disease and tumor cell proliferation.
This medicinal mushroom has also demonstrated angiogenesis inhibition. Active compounds inhibit the formation of new blood vessels that supply blood to tumor cells. Tumors need an abundant supply of blood to proliferate. In the absence of new blood vessels to supply their needs, tumor cell growth is inhibited.
Another study also found that active compounds in tinder conk mushroom showed more anti-disease actions. These reduced the motility of tumor cells. These compounds also induced morphological changes that further discouraged tumor growth. All these effects only affected tumor cells, and the compounds were non-toxic to the body’s normal cells.
Fomes fomentarius Other Uses
Cauterization substance for wounds (described by Hippocrates in the fifth century BC)
A styptic to stop bleeding - used by surgeons barbers and dentists (sometimes called the "agaric of the chirurges" or "surgeon's agaric".
Remedy against dysmenorrhea, hemorrhoids, and bladder disorders in Europe.
Diuretic, laxatives, and nerve tonic in Indic folk medicine.
Treating cancers of the esophagus, stomach, and uterus in China.
Used in smoking rituals in western Sibera and Hokkaido, burning the fruiting bodies overnight to banish evil spirits.
Making clothing such as caps and chest protectors (after pounding).
As pincushions to prevent pins and needles from rusting.
Used by entomologists to mount their delicate insects.
Used in Siberia as snuff or mixed with tobacco.
Sold for use in fly fishing as "amadou," which is used to absorb excess water from flies.
Using modern methods, the tinder polypore has been shown to contain iodine, fomentariol, and other substances that are active against bacteria and tumors.
Fomes fomentarius Taxonomy and Etymology
As you might expect with such a common and conspicuous bracket fungus, Hoof Fungus did not escape the notice of Carl Linnaeus, who described it scientifically in 1753 and gave it the name Boletus fomentarius.
In 1821 Elias Magnus Fries endorsed the basionym, renaming this bracket as Polyporus fomentarius. The new genus Fomes was erected by Fries in 1849, and the Flemish mycologist Jean Jacques Kickx (1842 - 1887) transferred Hoof Fungus to that genus in 1867, thus establishing its currently-accepted scientific name as Fomes fomentarius.
Synonyms of Fomes fomentarius, therefore, include Boletus fomentarius L., and Polyporus fomentarius (L.) Fr.
Fomes fomentarius is the type species of the Fomes genus.
Fomes, the generic name, comes from Latin and means 'tinder', and rather tautologically the specific epithet fomentarius translates to 'used for tinder'.
Photo 1 - Author: GT1976 (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 2 - Author: Leonhard Lenz (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 3 - Author: Michel Langeveld (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
Photo 4 - Author: Алексей Владимирович (Public Domain)
Photo 5 - Author: Ilkka Kaita-aho (Public Domain)
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