Horse’s Hoof Fungus (Fomes Fomentarius) Identification

Horse’s Hoof Fungus/ All Year Round / Inedible

Scientific Name

Fomes Fomentarius


Common Names

Horse’s Hoof fungus, Tinder Fungus, Tinder Bracket, Iceman Fungus.


Family

Polyporaceae


Habitat

They are most often found on dead wood, logs and stumps, but they do sometimes appear on older living trees. Mostly they grow on birch but they do sometimes attack beech and sycamore.


Description

A common fungus found all year round. They are tough and woody to touch, they are perennial and often persist for many years. Non-toxic but classed as inedible due to their bitter taste and tough texture.


Identifying Features:

Cap:

They are typically hoof shaped but can sometimes be more shelf like in overall appearance, they have broad, concentric ridges. The colour of the upper surface can range from a silvery grey to an almost pure black colour, they do look like a horse’s hoof, hence their common name.

The underside is much lighter in colour, almost cream to white when young and may bruise light brown when damaged.

Richard Bartz, Munich aka Makro Freak, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

Stem:

No real stem.

Agnes Monkelbaan, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Gills:

Pores instead of gills, which are almost white when very young but darken to brown with age.

Leonhard Lenz, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Smell:

Quite fruity.


Spores:

Pale lemon. Often found covering either the tree below the mushroom or other mushrooms below.


Uses

In food

Not really edible, their tough texture is unpleasant and their taste is acrid.


Harvesting  

They are harvested for use as tinder, known as amadou. Amadou has been used for thousands of years as a fire starter, when dried it easily takes a spark. It can also be used medicinally or as a textile and would have been a valuable resource for our ancestors.

Brudersohn, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

Known hazards

None known.


Potential lookalikes

They could be confused with the Artist Bracket (Ganoderma Applanatum) but this has brown spores. Possibly the Birch Polypore (Fomitopsis Betulina) could also look similar but these tend to be a lot softer in texture and they have a smoother upper surface.


Extra Notes

The Horse’s Hoof fungus is one of the fungi that was found with Otzi the Iceman, a 5000-year-old body found preserved in the Alps between Austria and Italy. It is believed he was using the fungus as a firelighter.

 

1 reply on “Horse’s Hoof Fungus (Fomes Fomentarius) Identification”

  • Thank you for sharing, Knowledge is important.
    I live in northern Maine, we are very fortunate to have a very large variety were we live.

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