As I write other posts, enjoy this chart!
Click the link below to access an extensive consolidation of some polypore mushrooms and their therapeutic qualities:
Chart of Polypore Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest and their Medicinal Properties
As I write other posts, enjoy this chart!
Click the link below to access an extensive consolidation of some polypore mushrooms and their therapeutic qualities:
Chart of Polypore Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest and their Medicinal Properties
Slogging around the dense northwest forest and in your periphery rests a nearly bare, fallen log. It is nude accept for the adornment of a troop of thin, layered polypore mushrooms. It is hard to tell from where you stand exactly which species this log beholds. At this point, there is that hope that this would be an especially auspicious amble in the woods, and that it would be the fruiting body of the great Turkey Tail mushrooms. With fingers crossed, you traverse the trail and walk towards the fungal bouquet. After stepping through the thick humus and crawling under fallen trees, you arrive at this mysterious cluster of mushrooms. The initial instinct is to look closely at the attractive pileus, and take note if there are alternating striations of colors, and within these striations, if there are alternating hirsute and silken layers. Next, you touch the body of this terrestrial being to take notice of its thickness and rigidity. Is it thick, or thin, bendy or stiff? Finally, you look for the pearly white pore surface on the caudal surface of the mushroom. You look to see if you notice the pores, if they are big enough to see or if they are so tiny that this surface looks entirely smooth. After this thorough inspection, you look at these elegant polypore mushrooms with disappointment. The pileus is a pearly white and seems continuously hirsute, the body feels thicker than you expected, and the pore surface is not as smooth as you wished it to be. Still, you recognize the brilliance, but leave the mushrooms be and continue along with your walk.
This was my story on numerous occasions. Though, the more I studied the mycomedicinals, the more my curiosities grew around the medicinal uses of other species of the Trametes genus. Fortunately, others had this curiosity as well. Here, I hope to give information of the modern research and traditional uses of four species of Trametes fungi that are found here in the Pacific Northwest. I will discuss Trametes hirsuta, Trametes ochracea, Trametes versicolor, and Trametes pubescens. I also added a bit of information on the False Turkey Tail, Stereum ostrea. These mushrooms are all common and widespread in boreal and temperate regions in the northern hemisphere.
Distribution and Natural Habitat
White rot mushroom found on the deadwood of hardwoods, usually found growing in clusters on logs and stumps. Fruiting in Summer and Fall. I usually find these mushrooms on logs by a river or stream.
Semicircular, often kidney shaped. Other caps of adjacent mushrooms are sometimes fused. Hairy throughout, contrasting zones of different shades of grey and white.
Whitish, tingeing yellow with age.
Active known constituents
Polysaccharides, (Beta Glucans), flavanoids
Immune-modulating, immune-stimulating, styptic, Antioxidant, Genoprotective
Distribution and Natural Habitat
See T. hirsuta. Annual, slow to decay, usually found all year round, I have found they are more rotten around early spring and freshest looking in the Fall an Winter, which is when they release their spores.
Different shades of orange and ochre in concentric zones, often with a stripe of white at the edge. Semicircular, or bell shapes, entire surface is covered with a thin fuzz. Caps are typically 1.5-5cm across and often overlap with other fruiting bodies of the same species.
Creamy ochre with roundish pores 1-4mm deep, spaced 3-4 pores per mm. Stains more significantly than other trametes sp. when bruised.
Active known constituents3
Saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids, steroids, phenols, tannins
Anti-inflammatory, Cytotoxic, Antioxidant, Hypocholesterolemic
Distribution and Natural Habitat
Same as T. hirsuta
Up to 8 cm across and 5cm deep. Semicircular, irregular bracket shape, sometimes fusing with other caps laterally and caudally. Velvety, though sometimes becoming bald with age. Usually cream and light gray in color. Faint textural zones, no obvious color zoning.
Creamy, yellowish with age, 3-5 angular pores per mm
Active known constituents
Laccase, Beta glucans, phenolic compounds: gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, apigallocatecin gallate, caffeic acid, rutin hydrate, p-coumeric acid, naringin, resveratrol, kaempferol, and biochanin
Antioxidant, Immune-modulating, immune-stimulating, metal ion chelating, anti-dementia, anti-inflammatory
Distribution and natural Habitat
Totally True Turkey Tail Test- derived from mushroomexpert.com
1) Is the pore surface a real pore surface? Like, can you see actual pores?
2) Squint real hard. Would you say there are about 1-3 pores per millimeter (which would make them fairly easy to see), or about 3-8 pores per millimeter (which would make them very tiny)?
3-8 per mm: Continue.
1-3 per mm: See several other species of Trametes.
3) Is the cap conspicuously fuzzy, velvety, or finely hairy (use a magnifying glass or rub it with your thumb)?
No: See several other species of Trametes.
4) Is the fresh cap whitish to grayish?
Yes: See Trametes hirsuta.
5) Does the cap lack starkly contrasting color zones (are the zones merely textural, or do they represent subtle shades of the same color)?
Yes: See Trametes pubescens.
6) Is the fresh mushroom rigid and hard, or thin and flexible?
Rigid and hard: See Trametes ochracea.
Thin and flexible: Totally True Turkey Tail.
Spore Print – White
Styptic, anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating, immune-modulating, chemo-protective, antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-hypertensive, antigenotoxic, prebiotic, gastrocyte protective
Increases circulation, clears heat and damp, sweet and slightly warming
“False Turkey Tail”
Although not part of the Trametes genus or even the polyporaceae family, this mushroom that is often called false turkey tail, should not be overlooked. This too has great medicinal value and further research should be done.
Another point of interest regarding this mushroom is that one of my favorite and often neglected medicinal fungi, Tramella mesenterica, is parasitic on Stereum. Most of the time it is only parasitic on the mycelium, but in some cases, Tremella can be found growing right on the fruiting body.
Distribution and natural habitat
Deadwood of hardwoods, growing densely, but not fusing together as Trametes sp. often do. Found in all seasons throughout the year.
Often fan shaped, or irregularly kidney shaped. Hairy at first, getting smoother with maturity. Concentric zones of red, orange, yellow and brown. Sometimes taken over by greenish shades with age due to algae.
Interesting about this algae: This algae has a commensal relationship with Stereum. The algae do not get nutrients from the fungus, but uses it to gain a better position in the environment for photosynthesis.
Smooth, no pores, whitish to reddish brown.
Active known Constituents
Stereumone (a sesquiterpene), three aromatic compounds, methyl 2,4-dihydroxy-6-methylbenzoate.
Of the mushrooms used by the maya, the polypore mushrooms, including Ganoderma and Trametes were mentioned for treating diverse conditions, from stomach aches to mouth sores, and insanity.(17)
In Western and Central Nepal, Trametes versicolor, Ganoderma lucidum and Coriolus hirsutus were found used for ignition of cigarettes in Lumle area. These species are also used to lock the crevices of the wooden pot (Thekaa). They are cut into small pieces, inserted into crevices and left for one whole night in water. Mushrooms after soaking in water completely, blocked the crevices. (18)
I hope that this post is helpful in elucidating that there is a lot of further research that needs to be done on these beloved polypores. Maybe next time you come across one of these thin, woody fruiting bodies that is not a true Turkey Tail, you will realize it’s medicinal value and decoct them with your other medicinal mushrooms in a tea or broth.
Some folks like to do an alcohol extraction before the water extraction. I have found that heating the mushroom in the water prior to alcohol extraction has superior results.
When you find these in the forest and want something to chew on, first make sure the mushroom is not rotten, then stick it in your mouth and chew on it like gum.
Important: Most polypore mushrooms can dry fine on their own. Trametes need to be placed in the dehydrator if you plan on drying them for later use. If you let them air dry you will find that they will eventually turn to dust. (They will be consumed by little mushroom mite type creatures)
Winter; Traditionally a time of sleeping, eating, and burrowing. Though, we no longer live with the seasons in our society, so consequently, winter has become a time, like all the other times, one of business and stress. This resistance to succumb to the slow, dark pace of winter can result in a manifestation of disease. We are fortunate during this time to have the plants and fungi as our allies.
Love the polypore perennial mushrooms for allowing harvest throughout all seasons.
“Without leaves, without buds, without flowers, yet from fruit; as food, as tonic, as medicine: the entire creation is precious.” – A poem found in an ancient Egyptian temple
Let us neither forget nor ignore this preciousness during this season.
Polypore Mushrooms endure great stress. They are some of the most weathered beings out there. As I sit cozy inside, the Fomitopsis’ the Trametes’ and Ganodermas of the forest stand the wind, the rain, the snow, the cold, the warmth, yet they continue to grow, gaining more resistance as the weathers abound.
I was recently reading about this therapy of ‘Grounding’ – The idea that the electrical currents from the earth can improve our sleep, anxiety, inflammation, and accelerate healing time post injury. As our deep fascial network provides a mycelium like sock over our musculature, electrical currents run through passing information throughout. Each muscle its own knoll, and valleys and ravines lay in between. These waves move in amongst and throughout it all delivering signals around. When there is a blockage in this fascial network, these signals do not move as quickly. A blockage can be formed from events like tight muscles, dehydration, inflammation – knots can form from lack of stretching and water intake, fascia will bind to muscle and skin, making it difficult for information to pass. Electrical pulses stimulate the growth of mycelium, and very well do they hasten our own healing. The electrical pulse of the earth in direct collaboration with our own mycelial-like fascial network can improve our own response to stress and inflammation. Mycelia work as a network of communication for the flora of the forest, as our fascia and neurons do for our own internal terrain. Maybe this connection is the doctrine of signatures that explains a way that mushrooms work as adaptogens – how they help our bodies adapt to stress – or decrease the blockages so information can move through without so many obstacles, in turn increasing our own vitality, or Qi.
(These pictures look strangely similar to me, I don’t now if everyone will feel that way)
This idea about the fascia and blockage of our information network is just me postulating about the doctrine of signatures relating mycelium to fascia. There is much information regarding Medicinal Mushrooms being beneficial for what can be debilitating consequences of a prolonged stress response. This is a good time to grasp this knowledge, seeing that it is the holiday season and many of us have time off from stressful lives at school and work, and then are hit with the stress of the holidays. The response to stress is, like most of our bodily processes, beautiful, perfect, and a negative feedback loop, not meant to be constant. Throughout history of humanity, the stress response is critical to acute stressors, and up until recently in civilization this idea of chronic stress did not exist. The systemic response to stress is the HPA axis. This is the Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. When a stressor occurs, like being chased by a bear, or having to take an exam, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin releasing hormone, signaling the pituitary to release adrenal corticotropin releasing hormone and then the adrenals release catecholamines, and corticosteroids such as cortisol. The cortisol then acts on the hypothalamus in a negative feedback system, turning off the production so that no more cortisol will be released. When this stress turns chronic, the negative feedback system stops working so well – the adrenals become fatigued. This can then lead to fatigue, inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep, immune system suppression, weight gain, low libido, etc.
Adaptogens are a class of herbs and fungi which facilitate the body in adapting to this chronic stress. Ideally we would be able to stop the major cause of stress and would not need the adaptogens, but that isn’t always an option. Adaptogens can be both beneficial and detrimental to ones health, depending on the ones we choose. A more stimulating adaptogen like Rhodiola rosea or Panax ginseng can help in the time of stress but then, consequently, leave you feeling even more burnt out. Medicinal mushrooms are considered to be gentle and safe, and I have yet to hear of someone experiencing burnout from taking them. Though, they do not tend to work directly with the HPA axis, so some would not even consider them adaptogens. Other than one article¹ reporting positive anxiolytic effects in mice, using Royal Sun medicinal mushroom, Agaricus brasiliensis, I have not been able to find any research regarding medicinal mushrooms and the HPA axis specifically, but rather an abundance of research regarding the mushrooms and the repercussions of chronic stress; this being their immunomodulating, hepatoprotective, antihistamine, weight stabilizing, anxiolytic, aphrodisiac and anti-tumor properties.
The Triterpenes, or secondary metabolites, have been studied the most in this regard. The spores and crust of the polypore mushrooms have the highest triterpene content, and these are best extracted using methanol, ethanol, acetone, or oil (You will see in the recipe below, that there is coconut oil added to the syrup for this reason). A comprehensive review² of the biological activities of Ganoderma ssp. triterpenes concluded numerous actions that indirectly help the body to adapt to stress. Allergies and viruses are more active when our body is under stress, and the Ganoderma triterpenes have been found to have potent activity against herpes simplex virus and inhibit histamine release. Lanostane triterpenes, (the triterpenes found in Ganoderma spp.) Ganoderic acid B and C both have histamine inhibitory effects.³ In regards to body fat, Ganoderma triterpenes were found to significantly reduce triglyceride accumulation by 72%, as well as inhibiting HMG-COA reductase (the key regulatory enzyme in cholesterol production). Under stress, it also becomes difficult to think clearly and the Ganoderma triterpenes have anti-cholinesterase activity. Less degradation of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine can improve cognitive functioning, and some anticholinesterase drugs are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. (Rosmarinus officinalis and Salvia miltiorrhiza both have anticholinesterase activity as well – I’m sure you have heard of Rosemary enhancing memory. Also, under chronic stress inflammation may be more prevalent. Macrophages are one of the critical immune cells in the regulation of inflammatory responses. Activated macrophages secrete a number of different inflammatory mediators. When there is an excessive production of these mediators, inflammatory disease is exacerbated. Lanostane triterpenes can help prevent and treat inflammatory disease by inhibiting production of inflammatory cytokines.4 Ganoderma applanatum, Ganoderma oregonense and Fomitopsis pinicola all contain these lanostane triterpenes.
Mushrooms, like people, are more than just a bunch of different molecules. They contain their own energy and this is one of strength and endurance. We don’t need to know about the chemicals they contain to know that they are grounding beings of great vigor. Simply observing this, and their way of being throughout the seasons, gives us enough information that they are superb and precious medicine, and a medicine that can be of great importance during times of stress.
6 Ganoderma slices
¼ C Chaga mushroom pieces
1 Tbs Licorice root, chopped
1 Tbs Ginger (Dried and chopped is fine, but fresh juice will have stronger antiviral action)
1/3 C coconut oil
2 1/4 C water
Zhang, Chunjing, Xiulan Gao, Yan Sun, Xiaojie Sun, Yanmin Wu, Ying Liu, Haitao Yu, and Guangcheng Cui. “Anxiolytic Effects of Royal Sun Medicinal Mushroom, Agaricus Brasiliensis (Higher Basidiomycetes) on Ischemia-Induced Anxiety in Rats.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms Int J Med Mushrooms 17.1 (2015): 1-10. Web.
Disclaimer: The information I provide on this blog isn’t intended to treat or diagnose any disease, just information from published research, read by me and written to you. You can decide what to do with it.
The 16th century alchemist, Paracelsus, explained,”[Alchemy] is like unto death, which separates the eternal from the mortal, so that it should properly be known as the death of things.” I hadn’t thought much about alchemy and death before reading this quote, but had always thought about mushrooms as the alchemists of nature – assisting in the dying process, breaking down the mortal and transforming the eternal to birth new life – and so with the noticing of the fungi-death connection and mushroom-alchemy connection, it would make sense that “alchemy is like unto death”. I am not talking about turning lead into gold, but a different kind of alchemy. In the alchemy that is of interest to me is assisting in the transformation of plants and mushrooms. This herbal alchemy uncovers secrets in the vegetable and fungi realm through distillations and calcinations, separating the eternal plant soul and spirit, from the mortem or mortal body. There is much to learn from mushrooms about the dying process, and what I have found, through a cocktail of my own experiences and readings about the fungi used in the Chinese Materia Medica, is that mushrooms are strong medicine, physically and spiritually, throughout any process in experiencing loss. I think they can be an important medicine and ally for people during times of grief, pre and post death.
The mushroom-like herb that is most often used throughout the dying process is Indian pipe, Monotropa uniflora. Though, this is neither a mushroom nor a a typical photosynthesizing plant. M. uniflora is a saprophyte, benefiting off of an already established relationship between a plant and fungi. This ghostly plant has a history of use not only as an ‘antipsychotic’ but also used throughout bereavement, both for the person who is themselves dying and for those who are grieving their loss. My love and curiosity about this saprophytic plant has had a part in instigating my wanderings into the realm of fungi and mortality.
This mushroom medicine is of a different kind than what I usually write about. This is the kind of medicine that goes deeper than chemical processes, this mushroom medicine reaches your spirit. It is true, that in times of grief your immune system will be down and your adrenals will probably need support, and so the mushrooms will be helpful in keeping your body systems strong, but they will also keep your spirit strong. In Chinese medicine the Reishi mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum, is known to nourish the Shen,or the Spirit, which resides in the heart.
In fact, the spagyric of the Oregon Reishi, G. oregonense is the most immediately uplifting medicine I have yet to try. I talk about the experience on the specific post titled, “Ganoderma oregonense“. The mushroom medicine can lighten the heavy, grieving heart, and be uplifting in times of bereavement. It has been my experience that it is not only the Reishi mushrooms that can be an ally when the spirit is vulnerable, but all polypore mushrooms that I have thus far talked about throughout this blog. The mushroom’s mycelial network reminds us too of the importance of community throughout the dying process, the importance of reaching out, and getting permission to receive nourishment through our connections.
This Kichri is nourishing to body and spirit, grounding, sustaining, and easy to make.
Things that are helpful to have: A crockpot
First, make the broth:
41/2 Cups Polypore Broth
1 Cup rice (any kind, I prefer brown, but do what you like)
1 Cup Mung Beans, uncooked
1 Sweet potato, chopped
1 C Nettles, dried or fresh
1.5 Tbs Ghee or Coconut oil
1 Tbs Garam Masala
It is easy enough to read and write about the research that has been done on medicinal mushrooms, but what is one supposed to do with this new found knowledge? What if you don’t have time to make a dual extract, or it feels too hot out to drink a hot mushroom tea. There are many ways to include mushrooms into daily life that do not involve imbibing a tea or taking a tincture. As it is now Fall and the weather will start to get colder, people are more susceptible to viruses. A person who uses mushrooms throughout their days will be more resilient during these cooler and darker months, and really, the whole year. The medicinal polypore mushrooms that I usually write about are deemed ‘inedible’ in most ID books. To an extent, this is true, in that you are not going to fry them up and eat them like a Shitake or Matsutake, but there are definitely ways to consume them, and benefit from their medicinal qualities. This is the first recipe I’ll be posting, but stay tuned for more throughout the next few months.
For 1 large Serving
1 C Water or pre-made *Mushroom decoction
1 Tbs Mushroom powder (Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Maine) – available at Dandelionbotanical.com –
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbs maple syrup, honey, or mushroom infused honey! (made by chopping up polypore mushroom into the smallest pieces possible, filling up a jar half way, pouring raw honey over the mushrooms, and letting sit for 1 month or more)
*Mushroom decoction: 1 Handful chopped mushrooms placed in pot or crockpot. Pour 4 cups of water over mushrooms, and simmer until the brew is decocted by half…this means that there will now be 2 cups left. You can test this by using a chopstick – Mark the chopstick where the water begins, and then dip the chopstick in intermittently to see when the brew hits half – Strain out the mushrooms and either drink the decoction as tea, or place in fridge for use in smoothies, oatmeal, broths, porridge, rice, beans, and stews.
“Chitin, Chitinase Responses, and Invasive Fungal Infections : Figure 1.”Chitin, Chitinase Responses, and Invasive Fungal Infections : Figure 1. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2015. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijmicro/2012/920459/fig1/
Beta Glucans are polysaccharides (carbohydrates) found in the cell walls of Yeast, Fungi, Algae, Lichens, and some plants, such as Oats and Barley. Together, with Chitin, they make up the fungal cell wall. B-glucans are biological response modifiers. This means that they cause no harm and place no additional stress on the body while helping the body to adapt to certain biological and environmental stressors. They support major systems such as the nervous, hormonal and immune system. You may have heard of adaptogens, this is a very similar definition.
Research shows that Beta-glucans have a hypoglycemic, cholesterol lowering, immune-stimulating and immune-modulating, and anti-tumor effect on animals. 1,2,4
Beta-glucans are made up of hemicellulose, which is a soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is water-soluble and forms a viscous water layer in the gut. This viscous layer in the small intestine decreases absorption of sugars and lipids into the blood stream. (hence, the hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic effect). Beta glucans from fungi reduced overall level of cholesterol and LDL in blood, as well as decreased the level of free fatty acids, while at the same time increasing HDL cholesterol. The sugars also increase the amount of Leptin – a protein like substance produced by fat cells that plays a role in hunger and satiety, which suggests their use as an agent to help with weight loss.
Beta-glucans are resistant to stomach acid and so they move through the GI, into the small intestines pretty much unchanged. The cells in the lining of the small intestine, the enterocytes, facilitate the transportation of the Beta-glucans into the lymph where the macrophages are waiting with open arms (Dectin-1 receptor sites). Like a key, they unlock the macrophages and activate them to travel back to the lymph nodes to induce immune activations. Once activated, it starts to produce bactericidal compounds such as reactive oxygen radical, N-oxide, and lysozyme. These activated cells also produce cytokines, which then activate phagocytes and leukocytes in specific immunity. B-glucans also play a role in promoting the activity of helper lymphocytes known as Th1 and Th2. Th1 controls immunity against intracellular parasites, while Th2 controls immunity against extracellular pathogens. When there is an imbalance in these lymphocytes, an autoimmune response can occur. Beta glucans help keep this balance.
Antitumor action: The antitumor action happens via activation of the immune response, explained earlier. They do not attack cancer cells directly, but produce their antitumor effects by activating different immune responses in the host. They potentiate the response of precursor T cells and macrophages to cytokines produced by lymphocytes after specific recognition of tumor cells. In summary, the tumor cells are attacked by the immune system, which is activated by macrophages bound with Beta glucans.
Each process of work I engage in with the fungal kingdom continues to remind me of how similar we humans are to our fungal allies. Thus far, on this blog I have brought up research that I have collected on the various mushrooms, and barely touched on the different levels of medicinal preparations that I have been experimenting with. Most recently, I have been experimenting with polypore distillations.
This magnificent mushroom was collected early in the day, chopped, and then vitamixed (high speed blended into tiny fibers). After the body of the mushroom was processed into the smallest pieces possible, it was added to a 2L flask.
Steam distillation begins.
considering the limited information on the volatiles of G. applanatum, I was skeptical if there would be any oil collected at the end of this process. There was one paper I found in the journal of Essential Oil Research that tested for the essential oils of G. applanatum. The paper, “Volatile Metabolites from the Wood Inhabiting Fungi Bjerkandera adusta, Ganoderma applanatum, and stereum hirsutum” by Ziegenbein et al. found 22 volatile compounds that could could be identified, with R-(-)-1-octen-3-ol (Octanol) and phenylacetaldehyde being the major constituents of the oil. Other constituents found in amounts between 5-10% are (E)-2-octenal, (E,E) 2,4-decadienal, 2-nonenal and 5 ethyl cyclopentene-1-carbaldehyde. This is the first time that 5 ethyl-cyclopentene-e-carbaldehyde has been found as a fungal metabolite.
Octanol, also known as mushroom alcohol, is a chemical that attracts biting insects, like mosquitos. It can also be found in human breath and sweat. Maybe this is why the mosquitos love me so much…you could probably make a trap using the volatiles, put a bowl out with the hydrosol or a little oil and the mosquitos will go to that instead of to you. I would suggest not spraying yourself down with the hydrosol before walking through the woods. Octanol is found in many edible mushrooms and also Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis. There is also small mention of it’s use in perfumery. In my experience with smelling the volatiles from this mushroom the scent is reminiscent of spicy, yet sweet decaying earth.( A hard to find smell in the world of perfumery) There is also research being done on using octanol to treat involuntary tremor disorders.
Phenylacetaldehyde is found abundantly in nature, it is a derivative of the amino acid, phenylalanine. This can be found in chocolate, flowers, and certain insect pheromones. It has also been used to flavor cigarettes and added to fragrances to add a grassy-rose like flavor.
(E) 2-octenal is used as a flavoring agent in food industry, said to have a nutty flavor, and is mostly found in fungi and lamb. Also, one of the major constituents in the stink bug stench!
(E,E) 2,4-decadienal is an aromatic substance found in butter and cooked beef. Said to have a deep fat, brothy flavor and smell. When distilling mushrooms, the entire room usually ends up smelling like cooked steak…
2-nonenal is an important aroma component in aged beer, and according to wikipedia the smell that comes along with the aging of humans.
After about an our of distillations, the fumes filled the air of my house, and my eyelids felt like bricks. complete exhaustion came over me and I napped for most of the time the distillate trickled through. This has been the strongest sedating effect I have felt from any substance I have encountered. It felt painful to stay awake. I suppose there is implication for the hydrosol to be used as a strong sedative. Since then, I have sprayed the hydrosol throughout my home before bed, and the sedating effect is still there. Ganoderma species have a history of use as a sedative, so this was no surprise.
After 2 hours there was a build up of fatty emulsion in the condenser and it slowly fell into the oil separator.
Hours went by, and the thick white substance continued to build up in the condenser. After turning the water off, the build up in the condenser fell in to the oil separator. The cold water running through the condenser was keeping it in a more solid form, and when the condenser warmed it softened and fell through. I thought it would potentially liquify at room temperature, but it stayed as a substance the consistency of lard. This smelled extremely aromatic; Decaying forest with coinciding notes of sweet and pungent.
I ended up collecting 20 oz of hydrosol and about a teaspoon of the lard-like substance.
I had a taste of the water left over in the boiling flask, strongly infused with the water soluble components of the mushroom, and it seemed to be the antidote to the sedation. It awoke me in a flash. Mushroom medicine is amphoteric medicine. If your immune system is suppressed the mushroom medicine will stimulate it, if it is overstimulated, the mushrooms will suppress it. This is the same with the energizing and sedating qualities of the Ganoderma sp. This experience is suggestive that I have separated these two qualities.
If anyone has any interest in working with this hydrosol in perfumery let me know, I am happy to provide it, as I know it is not easy to find.
The soul/volatile sulfur of G. applanatum is substantial. It is comforting, strong, balancing and grounding. A supportive and tenacious ally.
To read more about mushrooms and alchemy check out this beautiful website: Alchemycology.com
Between the pore surface and the outer tissue, spores fall into a cavity where they are trapped. With no exposure to the outside world, the spore dispersal is quite different than usual among the polypores. Since the wind cannot take the spores away into the wilds of the forest, it has some beetle allies that help it to spread the ‘seed’ along. When the spores are released, a small space appears in the outer tissue as well as a resinous odor that attracts hungry wood-boring beetles, who are then warmly welcomed inside the mushroom. They go in to this new home made of food and they consume the mushroom’s tubes and so the spores as well. The beetles then carry these spores away with them and bore into a new tree whilst inoculating it with the C. volvatus spores.
Deadwood of conifers, found growing in small groups, but dispersed. Favors trees that have recently fallen, been burned…generally in a state of decay. Said to be found summer and fall, though it is common year round in the Pacific West.
Active Known Constituents
Spore Print- Pinkish
Transforms phlegm and stops coughing
See Fomitopsis pinicola preparation
Igniarius was the name given to this cracked and charred looking perennial conk. It is a fitting name. This mushroom looks as though it can withstand the harshest of elements – flames, lightning, rain and even drought. A tough looking mushroom, but a loving one just the same. A spore travels through the air and lands on a tree. A hardwood tree, like a willow or a Birch, whose wood is the most perfect place for mycelium to spread its network and feast. It lands on the trees that have stood for as long as they were meant to stand, for once inhabited by this new mycelium, their fate is sealed and they will not stand much longer. Although the tree’s life is to come to an end, the mycelium fruits, and in this mushroom a new miniature ecosystem emerges. A microscopic city forms in the pores on the underside and the cracked crust is the home of small centipedes, beetles and spiders. Even in this rough, weathered looking fruiting body, there is an abundance of life. The tree will die, but the life inside of the mushroom will continue and eventually the tree will break down and return to the soil. The strength that this mushroom emanates is a suggestion of resilience to the elements, and so by taking this mushroom as medicine, the person may become more resilient too.
Perennial, releases spores throughout summer and fall. Found on hardwoods. Often found on Willow, Salix sp., but also found on Birch, Betula sp. and Alder, Alnus sp.
Three sesquiterpenes: 3S,9R,10S-3-hydroxy-11, 12-O-isopropyldrimene(1), 3S, 9R, 10S-3, 11, 12-trihydroxydrimene and 3S, 4S, 9R, 10S-11, 12, 14-trihydroxydrimene
Three steroids: 24R-ergosta-4, 6, 8, 22-tetraen-3-one, stigmasta-7, 22-diene-3b, 5a, 6a-triol, and 5a, 8a-epi dioxyergosta-6, 22-diene-3b-ol
Fourteen cyclo-dipeptide: cyclo (L-Pro-L-Val) cycle (L-Leu-D-Pro) cyclo (L-Leu-L-Pro), cyclo (ILe-Pro), cyclo (Gly-Leu), cyclo (Phe-Ser), cyclo (Ala-Pro), cyclo (Ala-Phe), cyclo (4-HyP-Phe), cyclo (L-Phe-D-Pro), cyclo (D-Phe-D-Pro), cyclo (6-HyP-Phe), cycle (Gln-Pro), and cycle (Asn-Leu);
Nine other compounds: N-acetyl-phenylalanine, adenosine, phenyldiethanol, o-hydroxy-phenylethanol, benzoic acid, p-methoxybenzoic acid, m-methoxybenzoic acid, hexadecanoic acid, and 3-pyridinecarboxylic acid.
-Naringenin, cyclophellitol, sakuranetin, aromadendrin, folerogrenin, eriodictyol, coumarin, scopoletin, phelligridins, phelligridimers, inniaris A-D, hispolon, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, protocatechualdehyde, syringic acid, protocatechuic acid, caffeic acid, isoerosterone, octadecyl ferulate.
Spore Print – White
Antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-viral, hepato-protective, immune-stimulating, immune-modulating
Native Americans made elaborate boxes to hold the ashes of the fungus. These boxes have been collected from many sites along the Alaskan coast. The boxes were made from exceptional materials of bone, ivory and wood. The fungus was burnt to an ash, which was mixed with tobacco and chewed. It was reported that this gave it a powerful kick. It is known now that the alkaline quality of the ash quickened the effects of the nicotine entering the bloodstream. This species is used rather than other polypores because the Native Americans recognized this as having unique properties and gave a kick that other species did not.8 The Yup’ik of Western Alaska called the fungus arak, and the mixture of tobacco and the ash iqmik – “thing to put in the mouth” It has been reported that 52% of first nations people used this fungus.
Arctic tribes boiled the fruiting body and drank the decoction to soothe the stomach.9
One Study10 looked at the best way to extract polysaccharides from the mycelium, and found the optimal conditions for the highest polysaccharide yield were from an aqueous solution of 70 degrees Celsius, for 1.5 hours and the ratio of mycelia to water being 1:6.2.
When I have made extracts with this mushroom I have found it is easiest to use the fresh mushroom, it becomes very woody and hard to process when it is in it’s whole dry form. Look at extraction process for F. pinicola for instructions.
The Snow Flower. Back in the day, when it still snowed in Tahoe, and the pine-needled humus would have a layer of snow in the Spring, I would look forward to this brilliant red being that would erect from the earth surface. The snow is mild now, but this crimson beauty still comes up, yet the contrast against the white of the snow is missed. A fitting plant to talk about on this blog being that although it is a plant, it is a saprophytic plant, getting its nutrients from the mycorrhizal fungi rather than partaking in photosynthesis, as green leaved plants do. The Snow Flower is most often seen near conifers, Ponderosa Pine, Jefferey Pine, Sugar Pine, etc. It is found here because it can’t live without them – a very one-sided and secretive connection. It is not directly parasitic to the tree, but it feeds on the trees relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. The fungi and the conifer have a mutualistic relationship; the fungus provides minerals and other earthly delights for the tree, while the tree provides sugars for the fungus – the Snow flower then gets it’s nutrients from this fungi.
John Muir writes of Sarcodes in 1912:
“The snow plant is more admired by tourists than any other in California. It is red, fleshy and watery and looks like a gigantic asparagus shoot. Soon after the snow is off the ground it rises through the dead needles and humus in the pine and fir woods like a bright glowing pillar of fire. In a week or so it grows to a height of eight or twelve inches with a diameter of an inch and a half or two inches ,then its long fringed bracts curl aside, allowing the twenty or thirty five lobed, bell-shaped flowers to pen and look straight out from the axis. It is said to grow up through the snow on the contrary, it always waits until the ground is warm, though with other early flowers it is occasionally buried or half buried for a day or two by spring storms. The entire plant-flowers, bracts, stems, scales, and roots-is fiery red. Its color could appeal to one’s blood. Nevertheless, it is a singularly cold and unsympathetic plant. Everybody admires it as a wonderful curiosity, but nobody loves it as lilies, violets, roses, daisies are loved. Without fragrance it stands beneath the pines and firs lonely and silent, as if unacquainted with any other plant in the world; never moving the wildest storms; rigid as if lifeless, through covered with beautiful rosy flowers.”
In the New York Medical Eclectic, Volume 6, Issue 10 (1879):
“The Sow Plant, a Flower of Strange Beauty.
One of the Grandest objects which meets the eye of the traveler in our mountains is the exquisite plant, the Snow Plant of the Sierras-the Sarcodes sanguinea of John Torrey, the botanist. It is an inhabitant only to the higher Sierras, being rarely found below an altitude of 4,000 feet, and its glorious crimson spike of flowers may be seen early in May, forcing itself through the snows which at that period cling about the sides of our pine forests. The portion of this plant which is visible above the soil is bright rosy crimson in color and presents the very strongest contrast to the dark green of the pines shimmer of the snow. Its root is succulent, thick, and abundantly free of moisture, attaching itself to the roots of other plants, principally to the species of the pine family…the Deer are exquisitely fond of it, and it is not an uncommon circumstance to find a number of the plants uprooted and robbed of the fleshy part of their underground growth…”
Food and Medicine
I have always been told, since I was a child, to not mess with the Snow Flower. I never knew why exactly, in fact I thought maybe it was poisonous. The real reason is that it only grows around the Sierras and it is a rare and protected plant – although I will talk about its history of use as food and medicine, it would be wise to pocket this information for your own edification and choose a different plant for these uses, that is not as rare.
The Snow Flower, is in fact edible and can be cooked like asparagus.
I can deduce from the ethnobotanical uses that it has an analgesic effect as well as soothing epithelial tissues. There is documentation of a decoction of the leaves and stem to treat ulcerated sores, irritated skin, and toothaches. The docterine of signatures would suggest its use as a blood tonic, and a decoction has been used in this way. Some Native Americans also dried and powdered this plant to relieve toothaches and other mouth pains.