Chaga mushroom

During my hikes in the ancient forest of La Gomera I think I found another rare medicinal plant - the Chaga mushroom. It looks like one, doesn’t it? It was too high to collect any of it, but I will keep my eyes open for another one.

Has anyone collected it in nature? What do you do with it?


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,501 admin

    Wow!!!! Chaga is usually consider a northern boreal species that inhabits birch trees. Do you know what type of tree it is growing on?

    OK. I had to look this up. Couldn't find any reference to chaga growing anywhere close to the Canary Islands. So I asked google what could be mistaken for chaga. The answer: "Phellinus linteus" or the Black Knot Fungus aka Meshima. The pic I looked at, looked exactly like the one in your pic @jowitt.europe. It grows on very old elm, mulberry and willow species.

    This fungus is a lymphatic cleanser and is used to treat hypohidrosis and breast cancer among a list of other symptoms and conditions. So it seems to have some similar actions to chaga.

    Chage is difficult to harvest and I would think this species is similar. They tend to grow high enough up in trees that it is hard to reach them without a ladder. A saw and axe or chisel are required for harvest so as not to damage the tree. Its very hard and should be cut up right away before it dries out and gets any harder. Usually it is ground up til it is the consistency of coarse coffee grounds and then processed into tinctures.

    This is a pic of chaga from my part of the world. They look so similar! Yours is a bit more developed than this one.

    I think @judsoncarroll4 is going to do a monograph for us on chaga. Maybe he could include a comparison with this Black Knot fungus.

    I am very much enjoying learning about plants from other parts of the world. Its so awesome to have such a diverse group of people to exchange with.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,351 admin

    Yes, maybe I can get to that next week. I caught up quite a bit this week on the new book I've been writing.

  • karenjanicki
    karenjanicki Posts: 947 ✭✭✭✭

    Oh my! I have never actually seen one before. I have purchased them from the local whole foods co-op, I believe. I am trying to consume more mushrooms, particularly the medicinal varieties, but I have never seen one before in the wild. It's a bit ugly, haha but man, oh man do they offer such benefits!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin

    @torey I have read about chaga and have some in a jar, but I have one question. Will it regrow on the tree & so would you be able to find it again in the same spot in the same tree?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,501 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning There is some debate about the chaga fungus regrowing.

    In my experience, the birch are very old when the fungus develops enough to emerge as the sclera. We are going through a phase of birch die off here, so the chaga doesn't seem to get a chance to continue to grow. It is close to the end of life for the tree. I rarely get back into an area where I have harvested, to see if there is further conk development.

    However, I have read that you should be careful when harvesting the sclera so that it can continue to grow. Either way, I wouldn't cut enough of it off to harm any part of the wood of a healthy living tree.

    I try to find logging blocks where the birch are going to be cut anyway and harvest the chaga from those plots. Not all loggers are going to tell you about it but my daughter works for a logging company so she can let me know when they are going to be in an area with chaga on the birch.

    When I have found chaga it seems to inhabit most of the trees in that particular area. As the mycelium is creeping underground from tree to tree, if you harvest some you are likely to find it again. If not on the same tree, then another tree in the grove.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,411 admin

    @torey thank you for your investigations and sharing your knowledge. It is all very interesting. I also did research after yesterday’s discussion. The tree looked like elm. It was a wet and humid place. I did some search on google and looked at more pictures of chaga and comparisons with other growths. After all I think that what I saw is a tree burl. I looked at more pictures of tree burls and it looks very much like one. Of course, if one could reach it and touch it and see whether it is orange/reddish inside...

    @LaurieLovesLearning thank you for sharing your experience and @judsoncarroll4 I am looking forward to your monograph on chaga. You are writing another book!!!!!