Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)Systematics:
- Department: Basidiomycota (Basidiomycetes)
- Subdivision: Agaricomycotina (Agaricomycetes)
- Class: Agaricomycetes (Agaricomycetes)
- Subclass: Incertae sedis (undefined)
- Order: Hymenochaetales
- Family: Hymenochaetaceae (Hymenochetes)
- Genus: Inonotus (Inonotus)
- Species: Inonotus obliquus (Chaga)
- Other names for the mushroom:
- Tinder beveled
- Birch mushroom
Tinder fungus oblique;
- Black birch mushroom;
- Inonotus obliquus;
- Birch Mushroom;
- Black Birch Touchwood;
- Clinker Polypore.
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a mushroom of the Tinder family, belonging to the genus Inonotus (tinder fungus). Popular name "black birch mushroom".
The fruit body of the mown tinder fungus goes through several stages of development. At the first stage of growth, Chaga is an outgrowth on a tree trunk, with sizes ranging from 5 to 20 (sometimes up to 30) cm. The shape of the outgrowth is irregular, hemispherical, with a black-brown or black surface covered with cracks, tubercles and roughness. An interesting fact is that mown tinder fungi grow only on living, developing trees, but on dead tree trunks this fungus stops growing. From this moment, the second stage of development of the fruiting body begins. On the opposite side of the dead tree trunk, a prostrate fruiting body begins to develop, which initially has the appearance of a filmy and lobed mushroom, having a width of no more than 30-40 cm, and a length of up to 3 m.The hymenophore of this fungus is tubular,the edges of the fruiting body are brown-brown or woody, twisted. The hymenophore tubes are inclined at an angle of about 30 ºC during their growth. As it ripens, Chaga destroys the bark of a dead tree, and after the mushroom pores are sprayed, the fruiting body becomes dark and gradually dries up.
The mushroom flesh of the cut tinder fungus is woody and very dense, characterized by a brownish or dark brown color. Whitish streaks are clearly visible on it, the pulp has no smell, but the taste when boiled is astringent, tart. Directly at the fruiting body, the pulp has a woody color and a small thickness, covered with a skin. In ripe mushrooms, it becomes dark.
Season and habitat of the fungus
Throughout the fruiting season, Chaga parasitizes on birch, alder, willow, mountain ash, aspen wood. It develops in grooves and cracks in trees, parasitizing on them for many years, until the wood becomes rotten and crumbles. It is not often possible to meet this mushroom, and its presence in the first stages of development can be determined by sterile growths. The second stage of development of the mown tinder fungus is characterized by the formation of fruiting bodies already on dead wood. This fungus provokes damage to wood with white, heart rot.
Chaga, which grows on all trees except birch, should not be eaten. The fruit bodies of the mown tinder fungus, parasitizing on birch wood, have a healing effect. Traditional medicine offers chaga extract as an excellent remedy for the treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (ulcers and gastritis), spleen, and liver. Chaga decoction has a powerful prophylactic and curative effect in cancer. In modern medicine, the tinder fungus is used as an analgesic and tonic. In pharmacies, you can even find chaga extracts, among which the most famous is Befungin.
Similar types and differences from them
Chaga bears similarities to the influxes and outgrowths on birch trunks. They also have a rounded shape and a darker bark.
Other information about the mushroom
It is recommended to harvest chaga only on live trees, and preferably in spring. It is during this time period that the trunks of the wood are best seen. In this case, the built-up growth should not be loose, but very dense. You should cut off young mushrooms of the mown tinder fungus using a sharp knife, and the old fruit bodies of the chaga are cut off with an ax. It is recommended to chop the mushroom into pieces of 5-6 cm in size. Before further use, they are dried in the oven at a temperature of about 60 degrees. Dried chaga should be stored for no more than 2 years.