P. betulinus is primarily saprobic to birch trees, living on dead and decaying boles and fallen branches. [1] It was transferred to the genus Piptoporus by Petter Karsten in 1881. (Photographs of Oetzi and tinder fungus are from The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology). [22] The fungus was carried by "Ötzi the Iceman" – the 5,300 year old mummy found in Tyrol, with speculation that the fungus may have been used as a laxative to expel whipworm. [21], Agaric acid found in the fruit body of the fungus, is poisonous to the parasitic whipworm Trichuris trichura. 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). Caps can range from 5 cm to almost a foot long starting out as little white bumps, turning into soft but rubbery bulbous protrusions. [15] There is some doubt about the ability of isolates from the European continent, North America and the British Isles to interbreed. [20] Phytochemicals include phenolic acids, indole compounds, sterols, and triterpenes. A second major functionality is associated with the dense, corky mass of the interior flesh of the fruiting body. Cut up and dried, they can be used as a tea although it isn't that great tasting. If more than one individual dikaryon is present, lines of intraspecific antagonism form as the two individual mycelia interact and repel each other. [6] It has also been used as tinder and anesthetic. Common Name: Birch Polypore.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. While the birch tree is alive and healthy, it is able to contain the invading hyphae, but when it is weakened by old age, disease, or other stresses, it can no longer resist and the entire tree is eventually invested. It has a tough, smooth tan upper surface that cracks and turns grayish with age, an incurved margin, and a white pore surface. [17] The fungus is eaten by the caterpillars of the fungus moth Nemaxera betulinella. In this sense, the birch polypore is considered weakly parasitic. Perhaps the most unusual of these is the etiology of the alternative name of razor-strop fungus. [13], Fomitopsis betulinus is one of the most common species of brown rot fungi. [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. 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. 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. Birch Polypores on a Black Birch Tree in Shenandoah National Park. Among the artifacts found with Ötzi were two pieces of Birch Polypore threaded on a thong around his neck. [6] Common names for the fungus include birch bracket,[7] birch polypore, and razorstrop fungus. Common Name: Birch Polypore. [6] Wood decayed by the fungus, and cultures of its mycelium, often smell distinctly of green apples. He was exhumed and taken to Innsbruck, Austria for analysis by medical experts. Chaga produces a … The corky nature of the Birch polypore was also employed in other applications in which absorption was required such as vulnerary dressings, ink blotters, haberdashery sweat bands , and even as a mounting platform for securing the impaling pins used in insect collections. There are at least 33 different mating-type factors within the British population of this fungus. Birch polypores are not known as being a culinary fungi however it can be used in a variety of ways. 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. What Is the Birch Polypore Mushroom? Ironically, a detailed geographic survey of the site where he was found was conducted in 1998. 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. 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. It is fortunate that this fact was determined while he was still frozen, as thawing would have resulted in the deliquescence and putrefaction of his flesh. 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.