Like the Tinder fungus (Fomes fomentarius), the fibrous and sere mass of the Birch fungus was used with a spark producing implement to start a fire at a new campsite. Birch bracket, Birch conk, Razor-strop fungus, Iceman fungus, Kanbatake (Japanese) – The name reflects the characteristic habitat as the birch polypore grows only on birch trees. Also known as birch bracket or razor strop, the birch polypore mushroom got its name because it grows from dead birch wood, but not on living trees. Stamets filed a patent on the extract on 6 January, 2004 (Pat. A second major functionality is associated with the dense, corky mass of the interior flesh of the fruiting body. [2] Molecular phylogenetic studies suggested that the species was more closely related to Fomitopsis than to Piptoporus,[3][4] and the fungus was reclassified to Fomitopsis in 2016. In his book Mycelium Running, Paul Stamets recounts his having sent mycelial extracts of the Birch Polypore to researchers at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland where testing revealed that it killed the cowpox virus without harming healthy cells. Caps can range from 5 cm to almost a foot long starting out as little white bumps, turning into soft but rubbery bulbous protrusions. A compound appropriately named Piptamine (C20H35N3) from the generic name Piptoporus has been isolated which has been shown to have an anti-microbial effect on a number of bacteria including Bacillus subtilus and Escherichia coli. Perhaps the most unusual of these is the etiology of the alternative name of razor-strop fungus. The eponymous Betulinic Acid extracted from P. betulinus has been found to be toxic to malignant melanoma (skin cancer) cells. It is readily identified as it grows exclusively on birch trees that inhabit the temperate to boreal forests from Siberia in Eurasia to Alaska in North America; it is hence a global species of the northern hemisphere. Peintner et al wrote in an article entitled “The Ice Man’s Fungi” in the journal Mycological Research in 1998 that it was common practice for the people of Siberia to knock Birch conks off of trees so that they could be chopped up and eaten while still frozen. [12] These factors are all variants or alleles of a single gene, as opposed to the tetrapolar mating system of some other basidiomycete species, which involves two genes. It is postulated that he used it as a medicine, as an autopsy revealed that he suffered from parasitic intestinal whipworms (Trichuris trichiura) that cause stomach pain and diarrhea. Fire, drought and suppression by other trees are common causes of such stress. Though it was originally thought that his demise was of relatively recent occurrence, inspection of his artifacts, notably a unique copper hatchet, lead to the conclusion that he was in reality a Neolithic man who had died of presumed exposure about 5,000 years ago. Fomitopsis betulina (previously Piptoporus betulinus), commonly known as the birch polypore, birch bracket, or razor strop, is a common bracket fungus and, as the name suggests, grows almost exclusively on birch trees. It was also used and as a means to maintain and transport embers from one campsite to another in order to obviate the need to repeat the sometimes difficult fire initiation process. [18] Old fruit bodies that have survived the winter are often colonized by the white to pale yellow fungus Hypocrea pulmonata. These may be broadly described as anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-tumor and anti-viral. The ice man provided inconvertible proof that the Birch Polypore was a well known commodity at the dawn of civilization. Birch polypores are not known as being a culinary fungi however it can be used in a variety of ways. Over the millennia, trail and error experimentation has resulted in the fungus being used in a number of interesting practical applications. If more than one individual dikaryon is present, lines of intraspecific antagonism form as the two individual mycelia interact and repel each other. Chaga is also known by other names, such as black mass, clinker polypore, birch canker polypore, cinder conk and the sterile conk trunk rot (of birch). The brackets burst out from the bark of the tree, and these fruit bodies can last for more than a year. It is thought that its spores land on the exposed phloem at a broken branch or other wound and send out tendril-like hyphae to penetrate the trunk so as to eventually form the mycelium of the parent fungus. Recent phytochemical analysis of the Birch polypore has resulted in the identification of numerous compounds that have a variety of medicinal implications. (Photographs of Oetzi and tinder fungus are from The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology). This allows the white mycelium of the fungus to grow out of the surface of the wood. [9] The spores are cylindrical to ellipsoidal in shape, and measure 3–6 by 1.5–2 μm. [13], Fomitopsis betulinus is one of the most common species of brown rot fungi. [6] Common names for the fungus include birch bracket,[7] birch polypore, and razorstrop fungus. Birch polypore extract appears to boost the secretion of interleukin-8 (IL-8), a substance that promotes immune cell growth. Birch polypore has a rather nice mushroomy smell although the taste is very bitter. Young polypores can be sliced thin, marinated then roasted. Ironically, a detailed geographic survey of the site where he was found was conducted in 1998. Sometimes called birch bracket, and known to scientists as Fomitopsis betulina, the polypore is a parasite that slowly kills the birch before feasting on the dead tree until there is nothing left. The many artifacts found with him led to a much greater understanding of culture, foodstuffs and tools of early European hominids. [15] There is some doubt about the ability of isolates from the European continent, North America and the British Isles to interbreed. Fomitopsis betulina (previously Piptoporus betulinus), commonly known as the birch polypore, birch bracket, or razor strop, is a common bracket fungus and, as the name suggests, grows almost exclusively on birch trees. [8], The fruit bodies (basidiocarps) are pale, with a smooth greyish-brown top surface, while the creamy white underside has hundreds of pores that contain the spores. P. betulinus is primarily saprobic to birch trees, living on dead and decaying boles and fallen branches. The cap or pileus of the fruiting body has a hard, leathery upper surface. Dehydrating is a great way to preserve them long term (although exactly how long is not known). Ötzi was Italian, which is appropriate, as his name is taken from the Italian sub alpine region of the South Tyrol. [16] It is only found on birch trees, including Betula pendula, B. pubescens, B. papyrifera, and B. Cut up and dried, they can be used as a tea although it isn't that great tasting. The birch polypore grows from a single lateral attachment point on birch trees, being subglobose at first, then expanding to a bracket measuring approximately 10-20 cm across. According to William Roody’s Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians, it is “edible when young and tender but not often collected due to the bitter flesh.” Charles McIlvaine tersely writes in the 1902 publication One Thousand American Fungi (which is considered by many to be the seminal mycophagous work) that P. betulinus is fair when very young and “unpleasant when old.” He also records that it is eaten by deer. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. P. betulinus will grow on other trees but only if they are artificially inoculated, but this is not seen in the natural habitat – it is exclusively a birch fungus. Six triterpene acids have been isolated that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties in the conduct of the “mouse ear inflammation assay” in which a mouse is exposed to a chemical that induces an edema in the ears; the Birch polypore extracts inhibited the formation of ear edemas by between 49 and 86 percent. [10], F. betulina has a bipolar mating system[11] where monokaryons or germinating spores can only mate and form a fertile dikaryon with an individual that possesses a different mating-type factor. [6] Wood decayed by the fungus, and cultures of its mycelium, often smell distinctly of green apples. obscura. Birch Polypores on a Black Birch Tree in Shenandoah National Park. Common Name: Birch Polypore. [1] It was transferred to the genus Piptoporus by Petter Karsten in 1881. Among the artifacts found with Ötzi were two pieces of Birch Polypore threaded on a thong around his neck. He was removed to Bolzano, Italy, where the Archaeological Museum of South Tyrol was built to house his remains. No. [11], It is a necrotrophic parasite on weakened birches, and will cause brown rot and eventually death, being one of the most common fungi visible on dead birches. Birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) is always found attacking birch trees but we have little evidence as to whether there is a preference for the two common birch species and whether it is the same in different regions.All is needed is to record which species of tree birch the fungus is attacking.