Horse’s Hoof Fungus

Common Name: Horse’s Hoof Fungus

Scientific Name: Fomes fomentarius

Alternative Names: Hoof Fungus, Tinder Bracket, False Tinder Fungus.

Range: Throughout British Isles

Habitat: On dead  Silver Birch Betula pendula and Beech Fagus sylvatica increasingly common on Beech the further south you go. Occasionally grows on American Aspen Populus tremuloides in North America

Key Identification Features: Up to 45cm across and 25cm thick, looks like a horse’s hoof. Can occur singularly or in groups. Usually pale to dark grey above with a very hard outer surface. Reddish brown inside with pores and pore tubes on the underside that are pale when young but darken to greyish brown.

Confusion Species: Other bracket fungus particularly of the genus Phellinus and Ganoderma can look similar and can be used in the same way.

Edible Uses: Acrid and not edible

Medicinal Uses: None listed

Other Uses: The trama or context layer (the leathery layer just below the hard outer cuticle) has been used as a tinder to catch sparks since at least 3200 BC. It can be either used simply dried and fluffed up or prepared into a material known as Amadou by a process of boiling, pounding and sometimes subsequent treatment with wood ash, salt peter or even urine.   The charred fungus also makes a good tinder for flint and steel sparks.  Once ignited a dry Horse’s Hoof Fungus can smoulder for a considerable period of time. Flat, felt like sheets that can be made into hats and other clothing are sometimes made from Amadou.

horses hoof 2

 

horses hoof 1

 

horses hoof

 

References:

Kochanski, Mors. “Bushcraft” (Lone Pine Publishing, 1987)

Mears, Raymond. “Bushcraft” (Hodder & Stoughton, 2002)

Phillips, Roger. “Mushrooms” (Macmillian, 2006)

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