Have you ever seen whilst walking in the woods the amazing sight of the birch polypore?
I remember the first time I met one, it mesmerized me. How can something grow so boldly on the side of a tree? Sit there so proud and so obviously, compared to some mushrooms, who like to hide away, camouflaged in the undergrowth.
The texture you never quite expect, will it be squishy, solid, soft or hard as rock? The only way I can describe it is that when you touch it there is some inner wisdom held within this super special mushroom that you connect with. It is neither squishy or hard. The texture is like hard foam!
I remember not so long ago, myself and my family were out explore some woods near to where I live, it always turns into a foraging exploration which we love! We came across quite a few polypores, the children wanted to touch it and get all tactile with it which of course we allowed as it is super easy to identify a birch polypore as it only grows on guess what....birch trees!!!
Much to our amusement another family were walking by and shouted over to us, 'don't go touching those they are poisonous you know'!!! We acknowledged them by saying thank you, but no they are not and infact you can make a tea from them! Much to the other mans shame, he lowered his head and ushered his family along!
This is one reason why we do what we do, to eliminate the fear factor of mushrooms and what you can find out in nature. My daughters know they can touch anything (yes even those ones with the red caps!!) but they know 100% not to put their fingers in their mouth and certainly not to put anything into their mouth unless they have checked in first.
You see birch polypore has been around for donkeys years, I mean really old donkey years! It is also known as the Ice man's medicine. Here is why...
THE ICEMAN’S MEDICINE
In 1991, when a glacier in north Italy receded, it revealed a very well-preserved 5300 years old frost-mummy of a hunter, quickly nick-named Ice Man. Scientists squeaked with delight, as this was an exceptional opportunity to study and understand the life of people who lived in Europe thousands of years ago.
Among other stuff this mummified Ice Man had on him were two balls, pierced and threaded on a leather thong. Paleontobotanical analysis proved that they were birch polypore mushrooms.
Scientists assume that the Ice Man used birch polypore to treat abdominal pains that were caused by whipworm parasites. Birch polypore is not only able to kill that type of parasite, but also serves as a laxative, able to rid the Ice Man of the dead parasite bodies from his intestines.
So not only is it possible to make a tea from it, we have created a tincture and you can also (in a sustainable way so you don't damage the tree) 'tap' the tree to get birch sap! You can drink straight from the tree!! It is also know that the polypore can acts like a plaster (bandaid) to heal skin wounds!
Birch Polypore it's scientific name is Fomitopsis betulina. Now for a dive a bit deeper into what the polypore is all about.
Birch polypore is one of those mushrooms with more than one medicinal effect.
Not only does it contain the polysaccharides typical for all mushrooms, but it also has other beneficial compounds that it absorbs from the birch tree that it grows on. For this reason, it has some effects very similar to those of the legendary chaga mushroom which also grows on birches.
It has been used as a tonic for the immune system, as an antiseptic to clean wounds and promote healing, a plaster that is microporus, antifungal and antiseptic and probably was used by Bronze Age man to get rid of parasitic worms.
With modern research it is becoming clear that the Birch Polypore is an important mushroom to look into, tests have been carried out and so far found the following.
Antiviral. In tests extracts from the Birch Polypore blocked reproduction in HIV cells, attacked and incapacitated encephalitis infections and has proved positive in treating flu, yellow fever and West Nile flu.
Antibiotic. The Birch Polypore contains the antibiotic piptamine which has been used to treat e-coli.
Anti inflammatory. There are several triterpene acids present and these are known anti inflammatories.
Anti Tumor. Betulinic acid and other chemicals in the fungi have been shown to cause apoptosis, the destruction of cancer cells while not affecting healthy cells.
Antiseptic. For cleaning wounds and being an aid to healing.
Antifungal. This mushroom does not like to share its habitat with other mushrooms and contains some powerful antifungals.
Stiptic. The fungus has stiptic properties (it staunches bleeding).
I hope you can see know when I say that by touching this wonderful mushroom there is a whole load of wisdom and magic that is held within its spores!!