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The Mighty Birch Polypore, King of The Bracket Fungi!

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posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 04:37 AM
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All hail Piptoporus Betulinus and bow down to the sheer wonder of what it can do for someone stuck alone in the woods!



I love these, can you tell?

They grow all over the place by me on just about any Birch tree (Silver and Downy Birch in my locale) that is dead or dying, and that's usually about half of them, whether they be standing or fallen. And once you see one of them, you'll begin to notice that they are all over forests with Birch in them and they'll swiftly become one of the resources that you spot first, because they really are bloody useful! Otzi the Iceman carried the stuff, and you'll see why soon enough.



Some can grow to the size of a dinner plate, they are easily broken off and exist in such profusion on dead or dying Birch trees that there is no guilt or damage to anything in taking one when many others can be found nearby.

They are distinctive, as long as you can tell a Birch from a Beech (and you will therefore avoid the slimy but similarish Ganoderms) and they are not poisonous. In fact according to Wild Food UK they are edible, but in my experience i'd rather dig to the bottom of the laundry basket and eat the oldest sock i could find, but still, this kind of knowledge can save lives


But this is the very least of their properties.

They used to be commonly known as "Razor Strop Fungus" for their ability to finely hone knives and razors. Just pick a larger example and cut out a rectangular block of it. It's got a polystyrene like density/resistance to cutting when fresh, but dries hard - and when dry simply hone or strop in a normal fashion. Alternatively glue a little slice to a stick for a smaller strop. As long as you keep it dry and away from burrowing insects it will last for months at least - i've had some that lasted for 2 or 3 years.


Pic Source

Just like the Tinder Hoof Fungus, Birch Polypores are great for fire lighting, and dry powder or fine shavings take a spark and make a decent tinder.
Not only this, they can also be used to carry on ember as a block of the stuff will smoulder for a couple of hours or more if treated with care - make a container of Birchbark (for example), line the bottom with fresh leaves, insert the smouldering lump and then sprinkle with it's own shavings and dust. Ensure air can get to it by adding some holes in the container and with practice you will be able to start a fire with it later in your travels.

The smouldering property can be used in another way too. It gives off an acrid smoke that gnats and mosquitoes will avoid. Set some smouldering in a bowl, or on a stick and you wont get bitten half as much as you would otherwise:


Pic Source

They are also medicinal and contain the antibiotic Piptamine



Otzi may have been carrying birch polypore as a preventive medicinal cure. Perhaps the polypore was used to help retard or rid himself of metazoans and mycobacteria from his body. (Stamets, 2002).

According to Stamets, medicinal properties of birch polypore include that it stops bleeding, prevents bacterial infection, is an antimicrobial agent against intestinal parasites and has anti inflamatory effects. The fungus shows antiviral properties that may be of help in times of HIV outbreaks and other biodefense threats. Betulinic acid of this fungus may act on malignant melanoma and other tumor development (Stamets, 2005).

Source

Pretty awesome huh?
Well i'm going to enthuse a little more

You can also make woodland plasters from the stuff - i've treated my own jagged bow-saw cuts on fingers with the stuff, and very effectively.
Find one of them that has a nice clean white underside.


Pic Source
This thin (under 1 mm approx) bottom layer is of a felt like texture, and by slicing a rectangular section of this off you can wrap in around a finger for example (the inner layer should be touching the wound, not the potentially dirty outer layer and tie with a little grass.

Source - this guy has cut it too deep in my opinion, about a millimetre is plenty.

Source - and this one is a little dirty, but needs must!
It will quickly dry hard and adhere to itself quite effectively, making it stay in place without binding, retarding minor bleeding and aiding in healing as well as protecting the wound from dirt and infection if like me, you're sometimes daft enough not to take a first aid kit with you into the woods. Obviously clean the wound as soon as you are able


Source

Otzi even used lumps of the stuff, in the opinion of myself and a few others, as pegs to secure items to his tool belt - i'm going to have to return to hopefully post details of this later as my link was on an old pc and my Net-Fu is weak... So thank you for reading, i hope it's of use to someone here

edit on 1-12-2014 by skalla because: typos etc

edit on 1-12-2014 by skalla because: clarity, typo




posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 05:03 AM
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S&F For later viewing. I love these types of Threads. Thanks.



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 05:22 AM
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a reply to: skalla

Great stuff! I will look for some this weekend.

Not mushroom for anymore information on this topic from me.
edit on 1-12-2014 by and14263 because: Because I'm a fun guy



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 05:31 AM
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a reply to: and14263

Outrageously wonderful pun, bravo!!



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 05:37 AM
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You forgot to mention their wonderful smell !
I love that pungent earthy aroma.



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 05:42 AM
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I'm ashamed to say that I knew none of this.Well presented and interesting-how about a thread on the mountain-bikers'bane:Stinging Nettle?Another astonishing bit of woodland furniture.

You probably all know this,birch bark burns like mad-use it to help light a fire.



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 09:55 AM
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You are not going to believe this, but 5 mins after posting in this thread this morning i chopped into my finger with a really sharp axe resulting in 10 stitches and shaving off a slice of bone. Bracket Fungus would have been handy. Had to make do with a Tea towel and some Padded stuff i got from a Neighbour until i got to the Hospital.. lol

Just back from E&A.



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:24 AM
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a reply to: Soloprotocol

Ermagerd! Nasty! I'm glad it wasnt a lot worse man, you could have lost the whole thing



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:35 AM
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originally posted by: skalla
a reply to: Soloprotocol

Ermagerd! Nasty! I'm glad it wasnt a lot worse man, you could have lost the whole thing

The Angle i sliced into it just lifted the meat and bone up. I still cant believe i made this schoolboy error. just hope it heals clean. need to watch out for a Bone infection. go back in 5 days for a check up.
Weird sitting watching someone lift up your flesh, clean it out, pick a bit of bone out and then stitch it all back together. Like it was happening to someone else...That might have been the pain killers working though.

The young guy who stitched up my hand i wouldn't let darn my socks. The Doc had to take over.

edit on 1-12-2014 by Soloprotocol because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:36 AM
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Good to know for future use. Thanks for the post.



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:43 AM
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a reply to: Soloprotocol

I frequently bow saw my fingers, chisel and rasp into my knuckles and nick my index finger on my left hand (always the same spot too!) when doing things in stupid stances rather than using a vice or saw horse etc. I normally observe myself in slow-mo just before it all goes wrong utter a silent "nooooooooo" and curse my self for my stupidity as my proto-craft work turns red and i fill a wound with wood or horn shavings



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:45 AM
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Anyway back on topic. My plan for today was to go get me some Bracket fungus for fire lighting purposes. maybe go in a few days now as i have something on tomorrow. Another visit to the hospital for a itchy ballbag complaint.

edit on 1-12-2014 by Soloprotocol because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:51 AM
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a reply to: Soloprotocol

Have you ever used Tinder Hooves? They grow on Birches too and sometimes even Beeches (or so i read, at least, never seen it myself) - they can be used as tinder, charcloth, ember carriers and even hearthboards too. I did a thread on them elsewhere a few years ago, maybe i'll have to resurrect it in some way,



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:53 AM
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originally posted by: skalla
a reply to: Soloprotocol

Have you ever used Tinder Hooves? They grow on Birches too and sometimes even Beeches (or so i read, at least, never seen it myself) - they can be used as tinder, charcloth, ember carriers and even hearthboards too. I did a thread on them elsewhere a few years ago, maybe i'll have to resurrect it in some way,

I was going after some Chaga, but would have settled for Horeshoe Fungus. Amazing stuff.

Here a Video of Chaga in action..



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:54 AM
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Cool thread and thanks for helping me add a new mushroom to my growing list of edible mushrooms that grow in the area.

Reishi, Morel, oyster and a few others.



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 10:57 AM
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a reply to: Soloprotocol

I've looked for Chaga pretty much every time i've been in a Birch wood but never seen it (Midlands/Northern England), you can buy the stuff online but i never have yet, mainly as so many polypores and tinder hooves grow nearby. Do you find the stuff in Scottish woods?



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 11:06 AM
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originally posted by: skalla
a reply to: Soloprotocol

I've looked for Chaga pretty much every time i've been in a Birch wood but never seen it (Midlands/Northern England), you can buy the stuff online but i never have yet, mainly as so many polypores and tinder hooves grow nearby. Do you find the stuff in Scottish woods?

Just heard about chaga, awesome tinder.... i'll google chaga in Scotland see if we have it here, If i find any i'll post you some on no problem.

Quick Edit...Seems like we do..


edit on 1-12-2014 by Soloprotocol because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 11:11 AM
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a reply to: Ismail

You mean the smell of the fruiting body itself? It is quite enticing, and this in-spite of me (irrationally) fairly hating the taste of mushrooms in general, even the ones considered delicacies like Field Mushrooms and Chicken of the Woods.I quite like the smell of the smoke too, but i can see why insects avoid it as it's thick and sort of acrid and bitter.

a reply to: Ericthedoubter

Thank you
i've only ever used nettles for salad and soup really, never made string from the stuff as i find it easier to use willow and elm bark or brambles. Nettle string can look beautiful when well made, but i've yet to try - the idea of retting the stuff for a week or two just gets in the way, i should really plan ahead more.

a reply to: remotev1

Cheers! And welcome to ATS too


a reply to: onequestion

Glad you enjoyed it, but i have serious doubts that you will enjoy eating these beasties very much. The stuff is sort of like one giant grain of tough polystyrene, and while it likely tastes pretty neutral, i imagine you'd spend longer picking it out of your teeth than you would eating it!



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 11:14 AM
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a reply to: Soloprotocol

Awesome, i figured the climate up there would be more favourable for the stuff. Well if you do get some, i'd really appreciate a piece, i'd be more than happy to send you something interesting/useful in a primitive/woodsy way in return



posted on Dec, 1 2014 @ 11:17 AM
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Sure i've seen this stuff a few times. just visit my local haunts until i find it...stuff it, i'll go tomorrow after the Hospital and have a sifty around.



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