Today Fizz and I have gone to the woods to photograph a tree previously believed to be possessed by demons.
When we got to the wood we met a nice man called Sam who was collecting Chestnuts. This wood is an old Sweet Chestnut coppice. It is neglected and the trees are mature, there is a good crop of chestnuts.
Sam works for a company who sell tree and shrub seed. He offered me £2 a kilo if I would collect chestnuts for him. He wants to buy a hundred kilo’s at a time and thinks that I could collect them in one day. It is a tempting offer.
I am just rabbiting on here to take Fizz’s mind off the danger.
This is the tree in question.
So what do you think this next picture is? A mushroom?
There is something very dark inside this tree and it is bursting out of it.
This is a very old and dark part of the wood. There are some big old Yew trees close by. This is just the kind of place that you might expect country folk to meet late at night. With robes and hoods over their heads. Chanting and…
Is it time to go home yet?
There is something in this tree and I would like to know what it is.
Well, I don’t know any demon experts. I decided that this tree was most probably possessed by the darkest sort there is and that we should probably avoid this area at night.
That was until a few days ago….
I was reading through some of the blogs that I follow, some of them are written by very clever people and I came across this post
Harvesting Chaga on a blog called Partridge, Pine and Peavey (now I don’t know how to do ping backs and stuff so I have just set it up as a link)
The blog is written by Hazel Stark and she writes, “Anyone who has lived around birch trees has probably seen it, but not known what it was.” Hmmm… So I did some more research.
I think we might be about to put a name to this demon.
Inonotus obliquus is a parasite and it will kill this tree, so technically that makes it a parasitoid.
Back to the demons.
It is not a mushroom, we were right about that. A mushroom is the fruit of a fungus but this is the body of the fungus, called the mycelium. This is the part of a fungi that you would not normally see because it would be inside of the tree. There will be some inside of this tree but it is also bursting out.
Chaga, Wikipedia tells me that this is pronounced “Tsjaa-ga” but that isn’t helping me much because I have no idea how to pronounce “Tsjaa-ga.”
Chaga fungus is a medicinal fungus. Unproven in clinical tests but then so are my demons and I know that they exist. Chaga is used in the treatment of cancer and taken in the form of tea.
Hazel goes into some detail about how to prepare it and how to make the tea. You should read her post for more information.
You do not have to find and harvest Chaga in the wild it is easily available to buy. Just Google for it if you want it.
I couldn’t get it off the tree with my little knife, it is quite tough old stuff. An axe is required, I am told. We will have to come back with something heavier.
I am sorry if you found this post a little bit scary but Halloween is coming, I am only trying to prepare you. 🙂