True tinder polypore is a species of fungal plant pathogen found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. The species produces very large polypore fruit bodies which are shaped like a horse’s hoof and vary in colour from a silvery grey to almost black, though they are normally brown. It grows on the side of various species of tree, which it infects through broken bark, causing rot.
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. Fomes fomentarius infects trees through damaged bark. It will often infect trees already weakened from beech bark disease and thus has the important and useful role of decomposing unusable timber.
Amadou: The species 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.
- No medicinal benefits established.
Fomes fomentarius, tinder fungus, false tinder fungus, hoof fungus, tinder conk, tinder polypore or ice man fungus.
Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fomes_fomentarius