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Tinder Fungus

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  • Botanical: Fomes fomentarius
  • Family: Polyporaceae
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Tinder Fungus

Botanical

Fomes fomentarius

Family

Polyporaceae

Known as

Polyporus fomentarius, tinder fungus, false tinder fungus, hoof fungus, tinder conk, tinder polypore, ice man fungus, Zunderschwamm

Old Use

medical, industry

Aroma

earthy

Medicinal

bowel cleansing, bladder disease, bleeding, constipation, diabetes, hemorrhoids, high blood preasure, menstrual cramps, menstrual problems, wounds

Heart & Circulation

bleeding, circulation, hemostatic, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure

Hormone & Sexual Organs

menstrual cramps, menstrual problems

Stomach & Intestinal

bladder disease, cancer, diabetes

Properties

antiseptic

Description

Fomes fomentarius has a fruit body of between 5 and 45 centimetres (2.0 and 17.7 in) across, 3 and 25 cm (1.2 and 9.8 in) wide and 2 and 25 cm (0.8 and 9.8 in) thick, which attaches broadly to the tree on which the fungus is growing. While typically shaped like a horse's hoof, it can also be more bracket-like with an umbonate attachment to the substrate. The species typically has broad, concentric ridges, with a blunt and rounded margin. The flesh is hard and fibrous, and a cinnamon brown colour. The upper surface is tough, bumpy, hard and woody, varying in colour, usually a light brown or grey. The margin is whitish during periods of growth. The hard crust is from 1 to 2 mm (0.04 to 0.08 in) thick, and covers the tough flesh. The underside has round pores of a cream colour when new, maturing to brown, though they darken when handled. The pores are circular, and there are 2–3 per millimetre. The tubes are 2 to 7 mm (0.08 to 0.28 in) long and a rusty brown colour.

The colouration and size of the fruit body can vary based on where the specimen has grown. Silvery-white, greyish and nearly black specimens have been known. The darkest fruit bodies were previously classified as Fomes nigricans, but this is now recognised as a synonym of Fomes fomentarius. The colour is typically lighter at lower latitudes and altitudes, as well as on fruit bodies in the Northern Hemisphere that grow on the south side of trees.

Properties & Uses

Hippocrates in the fifth century BC and thereafter Peintner et al, describe Fomes fomentarius as a ‘cauterization substance for wounds’. The fungus is credited with helping to stop bleeding. Due to this fact, surgeons and barbers found the most use for it. In fact it is sometimes referred to as ‘surgeon’s agaric’.

In Europe, Fomes fomentarius is a medication to cure haemorrhoids. It is also used in trying to correct bladder disorders. This fungus is said to deal well with dysmenorrhea.

Fomes fomentarius is incorporated in the ancient Indian medicine as a diuretic. It is also used as a laxative to stimulate bowel movement. The fungus is also a remedy that steadies nerves.

The Chinese apply Fomes fomentarius in the treatment of cancer of the throat. The Chinese use it too in the treatment of cancer of the stomach and the cancer of the uterus.

The International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, in its report, Anti-Infective Properties of the Melanin-Glucan Complex Obtained from Medicinal Tinder B. Mushroom, Fomes fomentarius (Aphyllophoromycetideae), asserts that Fomes fomentarius or tinder to others raises the immunity of the body. The report credits the fungus with enhancing blood circulation, regulating blood sugar and lowering blood pressure. It exalts the power of the medicinal mushroom for the impact of prolonging life by dealing with malignant cells that cause debilitating diseases.

Traditional Use

The species is not considered edible; the flesh has an acrid taste, with a slightly fruity smell.The fungus has economic significance as it removes any timber value of infected trees. As Fomes fomentarius infects trees through damaged bark, it will often infect trees already weakened from beech bark disease. However, it is too weakly parasitic to infect healthy trees, and thus has the important and useful role of decomposing unusable timber.

Amadou

The species is well known for its uses in making fire. This species, as well as others, such as Phellinus igniarius, can be used to make amadou, a tinder. Amadou is produced from the flesh of the fruit bodies. The young fruit bodies are soaked in water before being cut into strips, and are then beaten and stretched, separating the fibres. The resulting material is referred to as "red amadou". The addition of gunpowder or nitre produced an even more potent tinder. The flesh was further used to produce clothing, including caps, gloves and breeches. Amadou was used medicinally by dentists, who used it to dry teeth, and surgeons, who used it as a styptic. It is still used today in fly fishing for drying the flies. Other items of clothing and even picture frames and ornaments have been known to be made from the fungus in Europe, particularly Bohemia. The fungus is known to have been used as a firestarter in Hedeby, and it is known that the fungus was used as early as 3000 BCE. When found, the 5,000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman was carrying four pieces of F. fomentarius fruit body. Chemical tests led to the conclusion that he carried it for use as tinder.

Cautions

none known

Distribution

Europe, Asia, Africa and North America

Constituents

4,6,8(14),22(23)-tetraen-3-one-ergostane and 7(8) 22(23)-diene-3-one-ergostane, through the MS、1H-NMR、13C-NMR and DEPT, 3,3-dimethyl-(8-hydroxy-3--octenyl) cyclohexanol

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.