Botany Unbound 5: Paleolithic Organisms

559111_323208877782656_1394114429_nTinder Conk white variation (Fomes fomentarius) is shaped like a hoof and used to carry an ember in a hole in the mushroom. Man in the stone age used this, also called Horse hoof fungus to transport a spark to make fires. By shaving off small fibers, it is supreme at holding one of the less hot red sparks created by smashing a flint against rock. Ötzi, the well-preserved 5,000 year old “ice man” found in the Alps near the Austrian-Italian border, was carrying a pouch with Tinder Conk along with pieces of flint and iron pyrite. If you soak them and pound it down, it transforms into a mass of felt like fibers for sewing, shaping, and making fabric. It is a primitive medicinal fungus used for wound cauterization, antibiotic, antivirus/bacteria and to stop bleeding. It is a parasite as well as decomposer to trees. The first description given of this fungus was by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum. The pores are at the bottom, thousands of them, and if you could see microscopically, there would be a forest that looks full of lemon-yellow smoke coming from the bottom of these. One way to know it is specifically this species is by slicing off a piece of the upper body, and putting a drop of potassium hydroxide on it. It will turn dark blood red in color. It is is found now in N and S Africa, Asia, E North America and Europe. It grows on over 13 different trees; maple, lime, oak, beech, birch, poplar, willow, alder hornbeam, sycamore, cherry, hickory, and conifers.
It is the oldest-known biological product used by Paleolithic humans and have been found at Stone Age sites.

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