Habitat : Fomes fomentarius is a species of fungal plant pathogen found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. It grows on the side of various species of tree, which it infects through broken bark, causing rot. The species typically continues to live on trees long after they have died, changing from a parasite to a detritivore.
F. fomentarius has a circumboreal distribution, being found in both northern and southern Africa, throughout Asia and into eastern North America, and throughout Europe, and is frequently encountered. The optimal temperature for the species’s growth is between 27 and 30 °C (81 and 86 °F) and the maximum is between 34 and 38 °C (93 and 100 °F). F. fomentarius typically grows alone, but multiple fruit bodies can sometimes be found upon the same host trunk. The species most typically grows upon hardwoods. In northern areas, it is most common on birch, while, in the south, beech is more typical. In the Mediterranean, oak is the typical host. The species has also been known to grow upon maple, cherry, hickory, lime tree, poplar, willow, alder, hornbeam, sycamore, and even, exceptionally, softwoods, such as conifers
Fomes fomentarius is a tough perennial polypore that usually becomes hoof-shaped with age; it is found on standing and fallen hardwoods.
Fomes fomentarius has a fruit body of between 5 and 45 centimetres (2.0 and 18 in) across, 3 and 25 cm (1.2 and 9.8 in) wide and 2 and 25 cm (0.8 and 9.8 in) thick, which attaches broadly to the tree on which the fungus is growing. While typically shaped like a horse’s hoof, it can also be more bracket-like with an umbonate attachment to the substrate. The species typically has broad, concentric ridges, with a blunt and rounded margin. The flesh is hard and fibrous, and a cinnamon brown colour. The upper surface is tough, bumpy, hard and woody, varying in colour, usually a light brown or grey. The margin is whitish during periods of growth. The hard crust is from 1 to 2 mm (0.04 to 0.08 in) thick, and covers the tough flesh. The underside has round pores of a cream colour when new, maturing to brown, though they darken when handled. The pores are circular, and there are 2–3 per millimetre. The tubes are 2 to 7 mm (0.08 to 0.28 in) long and a rusty brown colour.
The colouration and size of the fruit body can vary based on where the specimen has grown. Silvery-white, greyish and nearly black specimens have been known. The darkest fruit bodies were previously classified as Fomes nigricans, but this is now recognised as a synonym of Fomes fomentarius. The colour is typically lighter at lower latitudes and altitudes, as well as on fruit bodies in the Northern Hemisphere that grow on the south side of trees. However, studies have concluded that there is no reliable way to differentiate varieties; instead, the phenotypic differences can “be attributed either to different ecotypes or to interactions between the genotype and its environment”
Ecology: Parasitic and saprobic on the wood of hardwoods (especially birches and beech); causing a white rot; growing alone or gregariously; perennial; fairly widely distributed in northern and north-temperate North America
Cap: Up to about 20 cm across; shell-shaped to hoof-shaped; with a dull, woody upper surface that is zoned with gray and brownish gray.
Pore Surface: Brownish; 2-5 round pores per mm; tube layers indistinct, brown, becoming stuffed with whitish material.
Flesh: Brownish; thin; hard.
The spores are lemon-yellow in colour, and oblong-ellipsoid in shape. They measure 15–20 by 5–7 ?m. The species has a trimitic hyphal structure (meaning that it has generative, skeletal and binding hyphae), with generative hyphae (hyphae that are relatively undifferentiated and can develop reproductive structures) with clamp connections.
Fomes fomentarius can easily be confused with Phellinus igniarius, species from the genus Ganoderma and Fomitopsis pinicola. An easy way to differentiate F. fomentarius is by adding a drop of potassium hydroxide onto a small piece of the fruit body from the upper surface. The solution will turn a dark blood red if the specimen is F. fomentarius, due to the presence of the chemical fomentariol.
Amadou is a spongy, flammable substance prepared from bracket fungi. The species generally used is Fomes fomentarius (formerly Ungulina fomentaria or Polyporus fomentarius) which in English is also called horse’s hoof fungus or tinder fungus. The amadou layer can be found on top of the fungus just below the outer skin and above the pores. It is used as tinder (especially after being pounded flat, and boiled or soaked in a solution of nitre) and also used when smouldering as a portable firelighter.
It is also used in fly fishing for drying out artificial flies. It is sometimes also used to form a felt-like fabric used in the making of hats and other items. It has great water-absorbing abilities. Amadou for dry flies can be prepared by soaking the amadou layer in washing soda for a week beating it gently from time to time. After that it has to be dried and when dry it has to be pounded with a blunt object to soften it up and flatten it out.
Amadou was a precious resource to ancient people, allowing them to start a fire by catching sparks from flint struck against iron pyrites. Remarkable evidence for this is provided by the discovery of the 5000-year-old remains of “Ötzi the Iceman“, who carried it on a cross-alpine excursion before his murder and subsequent ice-entombment.
Amadou has been used for arresting hemorrhages, being applied with pressure to the affected part; and for treating ingrown toenails, by inserting between the nail and flesh. Way back in history someone discovered that the upper sterile part of the basidiocarps could be used both as a blood-stopping agent and as a leather substitute. If the sterile part of the basidiocarp is removed and shredded properly it will make a brown cottony like material. If this material is placed over bleeding wounds the blood is immediately soaked up and rapidly coagulates in contact with oxygen over a large surface, and the bleeding successively terminates.
Though inedible, F. fomentarius has traditionally seen use as the main ingredient of amadou, a material used primarily as tinder, but also used to make clothing and other items. The 5,000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman carried four pieces of F. fomentarius, concluded to be for use as tinder. It also has medicinal and other uses. The species is both a pest and useful in timber production.
The species is not considered edible; the flesh has an acrid taste, with a slightly fruity smell. The fungus has economic significance as it removes any timber value of infected trees. As Fomes fomentarius infects trees through damaged bark, it will often infect trees already weakened from beech bark disease. However, it is too weakly parasitic to infect healthy trees, and so can be regarded merely as an aspect of the ecosystem, with the important and useful role of decomposing unusable timber
The species Amadou is well known for its uses in making fire. This species, as well as others, such as Phellinus igniarius, can be used to make amadou, a tinder. Amadou is produced from the flesh of the fruit bodies. The young fruit bodies are soaked in water before being cut into strips, and are then beaten and stretched, separating the fibres. The resulting material is referred to as “red amadou”. The addition of gunpowder or nitre produced an even more potent tinder. The flesh was further used to produce clothing, including caps, gloves and breeches. Amadou was used medicinally by dentists, who used it to dry teeth, and surgeons, who used it as a styptic. It is still used today in fly fishing for drying the flies. Other items of clothing and even picture frames and ornaments have been known to be made from the fungus in Europe, particularly Bohemia. The fungus is known to have been used as a firestarter in Hedeby, and it is known that the fungus was used as early as 3000 BCE. When found, the 5,000-year-old Ötzi the Iceman was carrying four pieces of F. fomentarius fruit body. Chemical tests led to the conclusion that he carried it for use as tinder.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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