Fomes fomentarius

Scientific name:   Fomes fomentarius (L.) Fr.
Derivation of name:   Fomes means "tinder";
fomentarius means "used for tinder."
Synonymy:   Polyporus fomentarius L.:Fr.
Common names:   Tinder polypore, tinder conk,
amadou, hoof fungus.
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Polyporales
Family:   Polyporaceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Saprobic and
parasitic; solitary or in groups on living or dead trunks,
on stumps and logs of deciduous trees; year-round.  
Dimensions:  Caps hoof-shaped, up to 20 cm wide.   
Upper surface:  Pale dark gray to dark brown;
concentrically furrowed; zonate, hard and woody; blunt
margin extending beyond pore surface..
Pore surface: Cream-colored at first, becoming
brownish; pores 3-4 per mm.
Edibility: Inedible.
Comments: This hoof-shaped conk has a long
traditional use as a tinder for starting fires. At the
following website read about Oetzi, the 5000 year old
"Ice man" who was found in possession of this fungus
and perhaps used it to start fires.

More information at  

Figure 1. Fomes fomentarius on hardwood snag.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 2. Note the conspicuous zonation of the caps.
Photo © Larry Grand.

Figure 3. As the tinder polypore grows each year, it
gets thicker and thicker but not very much wider. This
pattern of growth gives rise to the typical hoof shape
of this polypore. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 4. These herbarium specimens are quite a number of
years old. I thought it would be interesting to section them to
look for the layers of tubes. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 5. One of the specimens in Figure 4, sectioned. Note
the many layers of tubes that appear as horizontal bands.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 6. The context of tinder polypore is of two textures.
The dark outer layer (far left) is hard and crustlike. The rusty
brown layer between it and the tubes is softer.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 7. One of the most interesting uses of Fomes
is the making of hats such as this. The hats
are made in Romania, Bohemia, and Hungary. The process
involves soaking the interior tissues of the polypore in lye,
mashing the tissue into a flat layer, and molding and drying it.
Photo © Gary Emberger.


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