Skip to main content

My First Wild Chaga - Inonotus obliquus

If you ask any forager what their 'favourite first find' is, you may well be amazed at the extent and diversity of the answers you'll receive. Generally speaking, all first time discoveries are special. However, certain instances have extra special status dependant upon personality type and of course the discovery. There are many 'fantastic firsts' that reside deep within my memory;  Horn Of Plenty/Chanterelles/Hedgehog/Wrinkled Peach fungi on the wild atlantic coast of West Scotland (different years), Marsh Samphire/Sea Purslane in Norfolk, Sea Holly in the sand dunes of a secluded beach in Cornwall, Sea Buckthorn, Medlar Trees & Earth Star fungi in inner city Leeds, etc.... the list is long and plenty :0).

Marks Chaga

Despite never finding or witnessing this reportedly elusive and amazing fungi in the wild for myself, the reality of it's existence and notoriety did come to my attention while on a wild-full-on-foraging-immersed visit to friend and fellow forager, Mark Williams, in Scotland, in November 2014 - If Chaga is to be found anywhere in the UK then Scotland is the place according to various id/wild fungi publications. Mark had been fortunate in locating Chaga and had plenty dried at his home, needless to say it was, 'shown off' and in a not so, 'showing off' style - any mycophile when in the company of other mycophiles is sure to show their Chaga off.

The inconspicuous growth that caught my minds eye - Chaga!
Approximately two weeks ago, Mark very generously sent me a chunk of Chaga via post and within two days of receiving it, I decided to head out for some winter style connecting and tuning in, while remaining ever hopeful that I might just bump into Chaga. At a location, that will remain undisclosed for the time being, something very inconspicuous caught my minds eye, I halted, spun round, stooped low, gazed intently, set my fingers to work, took some pictures on my mobile phone and hoped that what I had discovered was indeed the rare and elusive Chaga. Since then time pressures have prevented me from returning and investigating further but Chaga has very much been ever present one way or another. After reading a very interesting article relating to the health benefits of the already plenty mentioned fungus and feeling spurred on, I headed back to the location today to take more pictures and some samples.

One of the harvested samples
After harvesting several pieces and tweeting about my potential discovery I am now 100% certain
that I have indeed located or more likely it was I that was located to/by Chaga. As far as first time discoveries go, I am absolutely overjoyed, thrilled and amazed at my very good fortune and this experience will indeed take pride of place in my foraging memories.

Chaga Tea
What is Chaga? Chaga is a fungus, a parastic & tree healing fungus. Culturally and historically it was
a most respected and sought after fungus (if you're conjouring images of tantalisingly, sublime, dishes of gastronomic splendour, please cease conjouring but dont be disappointed), primarily for it's fire starting qualities - when processed correctly the material takes a spark from a flint & steel very well, enabling survival throughout harsh winters and migration. Chaga was also, and still is, renowned for its medicinal qualities and is frequently used for brewing up into a medicinal tea - I am on my third cup of the afternoon. Medicinally renowned for its anti-tumour, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and immunopotentiator properties and also as an adaptogen. For more in-depth information about Chaga I can heartily recommend the Paul Stamets book, Mycelium Running. Also click on following link for more about Chaga:


Popular posts from this blog

Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum).

'What did the Romans ever do for us' is a phrase synonymous with the UK. Many ancient tribes, cultures and societies have landed on these shores and settled here. Some came with peaceful intentions and others not so (the Romans). Contrary to what is/was reported, there are many members of these various tribes still scattered around the UK. Not only did they leave their genetic imprints behind but also many a plant. I'm not going to delve into the 'horrors of histories past' but I am going to delve into one of the plants of histories past.

Smyrnium olusatrum or as it is more commonly known, Alexanders, is a member of the Apiaceae or Carrot family. Native to the Meditteranean region, it was apparently introduced by the Romans (ta da!) and used widely & extensively as a fodder crop, pot herb and vegetable (all parts are edible and tasty), until it fell out of favour and was superseded by celery. Given the Romans occupied much of the UK, both inland and coastal ar…

Fermented Japanese Quince Pickle

I love lime pickle but I love my Japanese Quince pickle even more! Lime pickle is great, it smacks your taste buds all over the place and I like that, it's salty, sour, tart, citrusy and then those spices come in to play with that amazing heat toward to the end. So after last years Japanese Quince harvest (end October, early November) an idea struck me, why not make a pickle akin to lime pickle, quince are tart and have that sour, citrus appeal but with a more delicious attitude, so I set about making one. After chopping and removing the seeds, I salted the quince to start a short fermentation process, I later added a range of spices and have left it alone ever since (well, not quite true, I have had a few sneak previews to taste how it's been getting along, who wouldn't and besides, I'm making it :) ). The initially hard quince have softened nicely and they have become beautifully infused with the spices while retaining that distinctive quince flavour and aroma. Ferme…

Sap-solute Magic

'If magic is to be found you will find it in the woods, you'll find it in the trees'

The name Birch is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word 'bhurga' which roughly translated means, 'tree whos bark is used to write upon' - a reference to it's use as a paper resource. This is just one of the many attributes of this common, very useful and delightful tree.

Birch are extremely common in northern temperate regions of the world. In and around Leeds birch can be found in pretty much all the woodlands, yet until this year, I'd all but ignored this tree but for the beauty it lends itself to our parks, woodlands and wildlife. After reading posts and articles about 'birch sap', I felt that it was time to acquaint myself with this practice. So it was, early in March, I set about testing whether the 'sap was rising' or not. I headed to a local woodland and after locating a healthy tree and after seeking permission, I 'tapped' into it u…