Who do you think I am, Scooby Doo?

Sccoby DooYou sit over there, where you will be safe. I’ll do the dangerous stuff.

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 ยฃ2 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.

Cash CropThe trouble is that I don’t drive and I can’t carry a hundred kilo’s of chestnuts. Do you think Fizz could pull a sled?

I am just rabbiting on here to take Fizz’s mind off the danger.

This is the tree in question.

Silver BirchIt is an apparently healthy Silver Birch with plenty of leaves on it.

So what do you think this next picture is? A mushroom?

Fungus?It doesn’t look like a mushroom to me.

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?

Scooby DooYou just think about pulling your sled.

There is something in this tree and I would like to know what it is.

Fungus

Fungus

Inonotus obliquus

Inonotus obliquusI first saw this tree about a year ago. As a naturalist I have trained my mind not to jump to conclusions without proof and without getting things confirmed by the experts.

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

Harvestingย Chagaย 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.

Chaga Fungus

Chaga FungusIt is a demon and it has possessed this tree but it is one of the lesser ones and it can not get out and chase us around the wood except on Halloween.

Inonotus obliquus is a parasite and it will kill this tree, so technically that makes it a parasitoid.

Inonotus obliquusWhile we have got the tripod out would you like to have your photograph taken with me?

Fizz and Colin

Colin and FizzI am just trying to lighten the mood for her a bit.

Back to the demons.

Inonotus obliquusIt 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.

Chaga FungusChaga is also known as Tinder Fungus and that interests me. I want to do a post about starting fires soon.

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.

Chaga FungusI just want to take a little bit of demon home with me.

I am sorry if you found this post a little bit scary but Halloween is coming, I am only trying to prepare you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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44 thoughts on “Who do you think I am, Scooby Doo?”

  1. Well that is interesting! I’ve actually seen Chaga teas, and had no idea. Enjoy your conkers. Ours are extinct, and buying them is a fortune, I suppose because we’re paying for someone and his human to hunt them out across the pond and then import them ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. That is really interesting. I learn each time I log on to your blog. Thank you for sharing info along your travels. I am so glad you have dear Fizz to accompany you.

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    1. Thank you Ettel ๐Ÿ™‚ I am very grateful for Fizz’s company. Especially when we are doing something dangerous. I always hope the dangerous thing will chase her instead of me ๐Ÿ˜€ (Sorry Fizz) but she can run faster than me.

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      1. I also found that Nature plays tricks, if you will….the Chaga will kill the tree eventually, but brewed into tea it will help in curing cancer!!!
        I’m glad you took time to photo yourself and Fizz.

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  3. Such a fascinating and interesting read dear friend. I found myself sitting at the edge of my comfy seat with intrigue, wonder and fear for wee Fizz. hehe ๐Ÿ˜‰ I always find this space of yours so welcoming, it’s like sitting down for a chat with friends…human kind as well as the furry kind. Much love and peace to you and Fizz!

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    1. Thank you Matthew ๐Ÿ™‚ I look forward to your posts in just the same way. I am looking forward to your next trip. Ah! but what about Bandit? I suppose that he will be looked after along with the horses.

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  4. Once the birch has died and been totally taken over by the Chaga Fungus I wonder how long the fungus lives afterwards. I presume it would eventually produce fruiting bodies and the whole process would begin again. I also wonder how long the fungus has been living in this tree.

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    1. Thanks Clare ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t think the tree is very old, they are not a long lived tree and this one is quite small. The Chaga looks more mature than the tree. I have read that if one tree is infested then there is a good chance that other local trees will also be and often not visibly if the fungus is contained within the tree. Interestingly several Sweet Chestnut around are showing similar symptoms. Not big cankers like this but multiple small black growths. I wanted to get this ID confirmed before I looked into that and it has been confirmed now. The problem is that experts won’t risk their reputations with speculation. I need to find big obvious cankers growing on the Sweet Chestnut. It is all very interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thanks Stephen ๐Ÿ™‚ I probably won’t get involved with the collecting. Apart from the bad back it is often very prickly work and just my personal foraging can be quite painful.I am tempted though because Sam has access to private land where I have often seen Deer.

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  5. I was going to say the tree has cancer, only to have you write it’s used to treat cancer.

    You’re the second to write of sweet chestnuts. I’ve never had one to taste. We have horse chestnuts I gather (autumn encourages gathering on walks) for examination, but they aren’t edible.

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    1. Thanks Sammy ๐Ÿ™‚ It is hard to imagine a world without chestnuts. Most of our woodland in Southern England was converted to Sweet Chestnut coppice about two hundred years ago. It was once a major industry here and chestnut poles were grown to support the hops that fuelled our nation. Then somebody invented wire and the bottom fell out of the sweet chestnut market. At one time it provided work and a way of life for many people but the creation of all of this non-native woodland must have been devastating for our woodland wildlife and the legacy remains. Most of the Sweet Chestnuts that are eaten here are not home grown, they are imported from warmer southern climates where the fruit grows bigger. English Chestnuts are not regarded as a crop and most go to waste.

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      1. Thank you so much for that interesting piece of history. I haven’t had the pleasure of viisiting England – yet- but Dad instilled a deep love and curiosity in me for forests and, in particular various trees, leaves, nuts and the creatures who thrive among them.

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  6. What an interesting thing and by golly, you figured it out, as we knew that you would! Maybe since you explained it Fizz won’t be scared any more. It’s a shame that it will kill the tree. Good luck getting a piece to take home…don’t cut yourself.

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  7. Thanks so much for the shout out! (By the way, I think the pingback did indeed work by linking—also I believe I am posting this comment on my blog and yours…the internet is more mysterious than the forest, eh?). Iโ€™m so tickled to see your demon tree! Thereโ€™s one thing I should have mentioned in my post (Iโ€™ll update it next). When chaga is smaller, it may be confused with a tree burl. The way youโ€™ll know is when you break it off and scuff off the black stuff, youโ€™ll see that lighter brown/amber color I mentioned inside. Chaga also should be able to come off the tree fairly easilyโ€“just a firm whack with the backside of a hatchet should do the trick. Itโ€™s much easier after a few days of soaking rains. If it doesnโ€™t work, check on it regularly and see what demonic thing it continues growing intoโ€ฆYour photos make me believe itโ€™s chaga, but it is on the smaller side and if itโ€™s hard to get off the tree, that may be a clue that perhaps itโ€™s a demonic burl! Feel free to send me pictures of the inside if you get it off! Amazing find and great story, nonetheless! Iโ€™m 95% sure itโ€™s chaga based on your photos and the fact that itโ€™s on a birch. (Burls are even more mysterious than chaga; I tried to do a research project on burls in college but found that there has hardly been any research on the topic!) Thanks again for linking to me!

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    1. Thanks Hazel ๐Ÿ™‚ I have looked at some pictures of burls on birch and see that they can look very similar. To be sure I am going to have to go and get one and chop it up, will do. The black coating did scuff off when I was trying to cut it off the tree and I ran my pictures past some mycologists and got a positive ID from one before I posted but I should have had a better response. That usually means that my photographs alone did not contain enough information for a positive ID. Burls would be equally interesting so I will dig further. Thank you for your response ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. Excellent post – witty, informative and spiced liberally with good photos. The naturalist and his trusty fun dog (like a gun dog but more relaxed). Fizz is a natural in front of the camera. We have a chestnut seller locally. He is to happiness what Long John Silver was to philanthropy. The most surly old blighter I have yet encountered.

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      1. I’m sure Fizz feels protected with you. Sorry I’m so late responding. I haven’t created anything in a while. I’m learning several new effects to use in my designs. I get bored if I’m not learning something new. Gotta keep my mind young. Happy Trails!

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  9. Oh, thank you for making me laugh again!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ I love Fizz so so sooo much!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ She is so sweeeet and super super funny!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think you should ask the Ents about that Demon-thing! ๐Ÿ™‚ and you look like Radaghast (Im not sure about the spelling…) But he is one of my favorite characters in Lord of the Rings!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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