Fomitopsis betulina – Birch Polypore

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The Birch Polypore (Fomitopsis betulina) is a medicinal mushroom that has been used for thousands of years.
The birch polypore was found on Otzi the iceman, whose body was found in the Italian alps from 5,000 years ago. It is thought that Otzi was using the mushroom to treat the intestinal parasites that he had.
Birch polypores grow almost exclusively on dead or dying birch trees. The mushrooms often start fruiting in the spring or summer but can persist through the winter.
The cap of the birch polypore is white to tan. The pores are white, darkening with age. The flesh is white, rubbery, and styrofoam-like.
The birch polypore is too tough to eat but has many medicinal properties. The mushroom can be used to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and fight viral and bacterial infections. The mushroom obtains its medicinal properties from the birch trees that it grows on.
Birch polypores have an outer layer which peels off and can be applied to cuts, offering anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. The mushroom has also been used to sharpen razors and start fires.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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