Before we start-off, I must advise people to be extremely careful with what they collect in the forest and decide to ingest. The forest holds many amazing medicines but it also holds a great variety of poisonous plants and mushrooms. Thus, we have to be very careful when gathering medicines. My advice is to double-check what we gather in the forest with somebody else who is in the know, if we lack experience and/or knowledge.
This neat little fungus grows only on birch trees. So, it is very easy to find as long as we know where to find birch trees. And birch trees themselves are quite easy to spot because they have a white bark. Many people also know this tree because they use the bark to start their fires with - it is extremely flammable.
Once we find our birch trees, we can look if they have any hoof fungus on them. It usually grows anywhere from 2-8 inches in width and maybe 3-4 inches in height. We don't want to pick the ones which look all black, or if they have worm-holes in them, or if they are deteriorated in any way. Do not pick them off the forest floor either. Make sure to take them off an actual tree trunk. It matters not if the tree itself is dead, lying on the forest floor. The fungus has to be dead though and here I must mention something: do leave an offering when taking anything from a forest. Thank You.
Taking the hoof fungus off a tree is not exactly easy. A good knife is needed and the fungus has to be pried off. The bigger the fungus, the more difficult it will be to remove it but they do come off and always in one piece. They will not break-off into smaller pieces easily.
The exterior of the fungus has a very hard, woody shell. It looks grey/white. Now, once we remove that hard shell, we find that on the inside the fungus has a softer part, which looks almost orange. It feels like the cork from a bottle of wine and it can be broken-up into almost a powder very easily, just like cork. That is the part that is used and has been used for thousands of years by people across the globe.
Fomes Fomentarius has many health benefits. In Ancient Greece, physicians used it to cauterize wounds. It has good anti-inflammatory properties. It helps improve the nervous system. It also improves the quality of one's sleep; it is rich in anti-oxidants so it will help the immune system as well and it is known to be a diuretic (used as a laxative). Some people struggling with rheumatoid arthritis can also benefit from this fungus, as well as people who have to manage their blood sugar levels due to diabetes.
Now, this fungus is not to be eaten raw. It tastes very bitter and acidic. The easiest way to use it is to grind-it up into almost like a powder and put into a cup of boiling water. Give it twenty minutes, strain and drink. It has a very bland taste. No sweetener needed. It also doesn't have a strong smell either. Roughly a gram per cup of tea works-out well (seen on the small plate in the photo).
Enjoy your tea. I certainly did.
All the best to everyone!
Paul Stamets in French Alps discussing Amadou Fomes fomentarius
Mr. Happy (author) from Toronto, Canada on November 13, 2020:
Thank You, Mr. Manatita. It is quite beneficial and quite common too, at least in the boreal forests, here in Canada. I thought I'd share the knowledge because I am certain people pass by it all the time and do not think about it.
manatita44 from london on November 13, 2020:
Interesting. Good that you do a kind of offering to the forest and your warning about poisons are also useful. This seems to be a fungus rich in nutrients and beneficial to humans. Awesome write!