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Where Does Chaga MushroomS Grow?

Latest Tea | April 6, 2020

Since the use of medicinal mushrooms in traditional Chinese and Russian medicine, fungi have attracted both commercial and scientific interests in today's modern era. Chaga mushrooms, also known as the King of the Forest, are edible, non-poisonous tree mushrooms that are known for their powerful medicinal secrets.

An Overview on Chaga Mushrooms

The scientific name of Chaga mushroom is Inonotus obliquus, which its value was formally recognized in 1801. The first therapeutic use of Chaga was recorded during the 12th century in Eastern Europe.

Chaga is a black-brownish fungus that has irregular, cracked shape. It resembles burnt charcoal wherein the size can vary from 10 to 20 centimeters. Chaga mushrooms grow so uniquely that it leaves a black lump on a living tree. The burl produces spores only after when the tree is dead. The slow-growing process of Chaga mushrooms is the reason why this type of specie mushroom does not spread easily from one tree to another. Chaga is not the fruiting body of the mushroom but it is made from a mass of mycelium or the vegetative part of the fungus. Thus, some people would argue that it is called 'conk' rather than a mushroom.  

How Chaga Mushroom Grow

Chaga is a parasitic fungus that takes years, even decades to develop on a host tree. While the fungus continuously eats the flesh, it softens or weakens it until the tree reaches its decaying state called 'trunk fracture'. The fungi eventually disintegrate the tree inside and out. The rotten tree will then serve as a shelter for other animals and insects allowing for the natural cycle of life to start again. In this way, the fungal spores infect another host by entering through any wound or break of a tree that is often caused by dead branches or animal damage. A tree is infected with Chaga if the conk is visibly noticed breaking the surface of the tree. As the conk thrives, it sticks out from the side of the tree. The parasitic nature of Chaga mushrooms made them potent tree killers in the forests leaving a sign of plague on its host.

Where Can I Found Chaga Mushrooms

Birch trees are the main host trees of Chaga mushrooms. Thus, Chaga is known as the symbiotic fruit of the birch tree. In some cases, Chaga mushrooms are also found in other trees like oak, cherry, beech, alder, and poplar. This species of fungi are abundant in the northern hemisphere where it has higher forest altitude. Birch trees are optimally distributed n East and West Siberia. They richly thrive in cold, moist conditions. They also have great tolerance for surviving hard winters. A quantifying amount of Chaga mushrooms are found in regions like Finland (Chaga is called Pakuri), Russia, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Belarus, Canada, Scotland, North America, and Northern and Eastern Europe. They are easier to visualize during the winter season where they not covered by tree leaves.

Chaga mushrooms are known for their contribution to overall health, balance, and wellness. Chaga extracts contain beneficial compounds that play a role in immune support, anti-inflammation, cancer treatment, and cellular protection against free radicals. 

References:

Balandaykin, M. & Zmitrovich, I. (2015). Review on Chaga medicinal mushroom, Inonotus obliquus: the realm of medicinal applications and approaches on estimating its resource potential. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms.17 (2). 95-104.

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