Fomes fomentarius (Tinder Conk Mushroom, Tsuriganetabe)

Fomes fomentarius - The Tinder conk mushroom, TsuriganetabeFomes fomentarius is a fungal plant pathogen. It is also known by the names Tinder Polypore, Tinder fungus, Hoof Fungus, Tinder Conk and even Ice Man. It has very elaborate polypore fruit bodies. Their bodies are shaped in the horse hoof’s shape and their colours range from silvery grey to blackish. The most common colour, though, is brown. This species of fungus dwells on barks of certain trees. If not picked, Fomes Fomentarius does not fall off the bark of the tree. It remains attached to the tree until it is dead; then it starts to initiate rotting of the tree bark. In short, the fungus lives on the bark of trees as a parasite and subsequently a decomposer.  

Fomes fomentarius is not edible even with its fruity smell. Its flesh is acrid in taste. Its spores are in between lemon and yellow and have an oblong shape. It has, however, always been beneficial to the communities who live in regions where it grows wildly. People have traditionally used it as tinder because of an ingredient that it has called amadou. It is reported that the 5,000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman carried 4 pieces of this fungus and the conclusion was that he would have used it as tinder.

Sometimes people used it to weave clothing. In powder form, the fungus makes chest protectors and caps. In Siberia, residents sniff it on its own or they mix it with tobacco and sniff the mixture.

It is also successfully used as pin cushions so that pins and needles do not rust. Entomologists use the fungus to mount the insects. There is writing about this fungus dating back to 1753-Species Plantarum by Carl L. Within in which this species is depicted as a member of numerous different genera. In Hokkaido and a few other areas, the fleshy part of the fungus is burned overnight in a ritual to clear evil spirits.

This fungus is found in the southern part of Africa and the northern part too. It is also found in Asia and the eastern side of North America. It is also found in many parts of Europe. It does well in warm temperatures of between 27 and 30 degrees Centigrade. It can still survive, though, in high temperatures of up to 38 degrees Centigrade. It is used to growing as a stand-alone but once in a while a few will be seen sharing a tree trunk. It frequently pitches on hard wood. Such hardwoods include the beech tree and also the Mediterranean Oak. It also includes the birch tree. There are times it seeks the lime tree, maple, cherry, hickory, willow, alder, hornbeam, sycamore and some unique soft woods.Sometimes it is sold so that it can be used in fly fishing, where its ‘amadou’ absorbs excess water from the flies.


The Medicinal Properties of Fomes fomentarius

According to the report by Harding, 2008,p.159, dentists found amadou valuable and they used it in drying teeth. Surgeons too use it stop bleeding during operations. These days however, amadou is used in fly fishing.

As a polypore, Fomes fomentarius joining the list of fungus with medicinal value is like matter-of-fact. Polypores have for centuries been a source of medication for different cultures. According to the writings of the Greek Philosopher, Dioscorides, the Agaria of Samaria used a polypore to heal ailments. Though recorded as Agaricum in 200 AD, the fungus that was used to combat deadly diseases such as Tuberculosis in the Middle Ages is thought to be Fomes fomentarius or another close species, Fomitopsis Officina.

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.

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