My friend Szymon spotted this amazing Hoof fungus (Fomes fomentarius) on Wimbledon common a month or so ago. They can range from 10 – 45cm wide and this particular specimen was at the larger end of the scale. What I found amazing was that it was as hard as the wood it grows on! It is found predominately throughout the Northern Hemisphere usually on Birch, occasionally more South where it favours Beech or Sycamore as it’s host tree. In the UK it is common in the Birch woodlands of Scotland; this was a nice find in Southern England! This particular specimen was on Beech, however we did find a much smaller one (5-10cm) nearby on Birch. It is perennial and can live up to 30 years, creating distinctive annual growth rings. It is also known in the Bushcraft world as False Tinder Fungus – ‘False’ to differentiate it from Chaga know as ‘True Tinder Fungus’ – both can be used as tinder in primitive fire making. In the case of this Hoof Fungus you would need to cut it open and use the trama layer to prepare the tinder. A pretty impressive and useful fungus!
The other week me and my friend Szymon had a go at some outdoor cooking with foraged Jew’s Ear – a common edible fungi that you can find all year round even in urban environments such as London. It grows predominately on dead Elder.
Szymon has a youtube channel focusing on bushcraft; he has been teaching me basic survival skills such as primitive fire making – I plan to incorporate more of this in to my blog in the future as it’s something I am very interested in. I love to camp and hike (and generally be outdoors) so these sorts of skills are really useful to have, not to mention it’s great fun! So here is the video we made of us cooking an oriental style broth using tofu, garlic, ginger, noodles, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, chili and, of course, Jew’s Ear mushrooms. Enjoy 🙂