Birch Polypore – The Secret Life of A Mushroom

Birch Polypore – The Secret Life of A Mushroom

November 11, 2018 0 By Foragers Folly

The Birch Polypore

The Secret Life of a Mushroom
Birch Polypore

Welcome to the Secret Life of a Mushroom.  In this case, said mushroom is the wonderful Birch Polypore. It also goes by the nickname of Razor Strop.  Why Razor Strop you may well ask? Well, that’s because, once upon a time, hunters would use them for sharpening their knives or razors. 

While out and about with Caber recently, I came upon this rather majestic fungi. I spied a wee family of them, basking on a rotten piece of Birch, enjoying the mild November weather. Leading a not so secret life I may add. As it happens, they were growing in abundance in that particular area of the woods.

The Under Rated Birch Polypore

Unfortunately, these particular mushrooms don’t have the culinary prestige of the Porcini or a Chanterelle! Nor do they aspire to, if they were a car I’d be comparing a Lada with a Porsche! That said, however, they most definitely pack the punch of a Lamborghini!

Speaking of which, the medicinal properties of the Birch Polypore rank, quite confidently, alongside the engine of the above car. Each of them showcasing their unique qualities and immense powers, and deservedly so.

The medicinal uses of the Birch Polypore, however, can be traced right back to the Bronze age.  And it’s also documented that the Ancient Egyptian’s gave their royal families a tea made from this particular mushroom. Supposedly it gifted them with immortality. I guess that didn’t work out well for them. Or perhaps it did? Who knows? The aforementioned royal families could be walking amongst us today, having enjoyed thousands of years of life. 😉 In which case, it’s no wonder the fungus leads a secret life! 

Not Tonight Darling…I Have A Headache

Do you want to know what goes on behind the scenes in the secret life of a mushroom?  Well, let me show you. Among its many properties you will find: 

  • A powerful tonic for the immune system.
  • An antiseptic to clean wounds.
  • It can heal a wound and leave no scar!
  • Promotes healing.
  • Has the ability to staunch bleeding.
  • It fights fatigue.
  • Can be used as an emergency plaster.
  • It has powerful antiseptic and antifungal properties.
  • It’s anti-inflammatory.
  • Can be used as a laxative.
  • It’s currently being studied for possible cancer-fighting properties.

As you can see from the above list, this beautiful fungus still has an important role to play in present-day medicine. It’s now time for it to stop hiding and to take centre stage.



“Mushrooms have been scientifically proved to having anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which assist the body in fending off diseases like Polio, Hepatitis B, HIV, Influenza, HSV-1 and HSV-2 as well as the small pox virus.”


Identifying The Mushroom

“If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise”.  Unfortunately, it won’t be a teddy bear’s picnic. What you will find, however, is the Birch Polypore skulking on the trunk of a dead or dying Birch Tree

It’s easy to identify these particular mushrooms, as they only grow on the bark of the tree, as mentioned above. You can’t miss their distinctive, kidney-shaped tops, which are coloured cream to brown. Their size, however, can vary from a tiny 2cm baby mushroom to around 25 cm. And you’ll find that they can be anywhere between 2-6 cm thick.  When you turn the mushroom upside down, the underside will have no gills. What you should see is a lovely, smooth white surface with a few pores. 

To Eat… or Not to Eat… 

To eat or not to eat? What I can say,  is that the Birch Polypore isn’t poisonous nor is it inedible.  However, it’s aroma is somewhat tantalising, which teases you into believing that the mushroom will taste as good as it smells! No such luck I’m afraid.  If you’re brave enough to have a nibble of a Birch Polypore, you’ll find it has a bitter, earthy flavour.

Meanwhile, lurking behind this bitter flavour, lies a rubbery texture which can take quite a bit of chewing. Consider this a fair warning. If you have dentures, don’t even try it! However, if you would like to try a wild mushroom recipe, you’ll find one in this post, “St George’s Mushrooms and 10 Reason to Love Them”.

Would You Like to See The Menu?

You’re no doubt aware that many species of mushroom appear on the menus of the worlds most exceptional, and most exotic restaurants. Unfortunately, the Birch Polypore doesn’t seem to be one of them. Even the most experimental, and modern-day chefs don’t appear to have much time for it. More’s the pity, unfortunately.

I can hear Gordon Ramsay now. Me: “Em, excuse me, Gordon, I would like you to make me a yummy dish with this mushroom please.”, Gordon: The first word would begin with F, and the second word would be off! 

One Lump or Two Darling?

The majority of lovers of this particular mushroom tend to make it into a tea or a tincture. All you need to do is add a spoonful of honey or sugar to get rid of any remnants of the bitter taste which may have found its way into the tea.  

And, lest I forget, is anyone suffering from the dreaded menopause symptoms? If you are, then worry not, sipping a cup of this tea will be like drinking pure nectar, which is served up by the Goddess of The Menopause herself. (I’m sure she must exist 😉 What you should do is add this to your favourite drinks list. And hey presto, peace, tranquillity, and happiness will once again reign. Considering it leads such a secret life, it’s a miracle that this mushroom can bring so much joy!

How could we have allowed this mushroom to lead such a secret life? It’s a veritable fountain of wellness, and it’s powers have remained hidden for so long! If you know of any other great recipes or uses featuring said mushroom. Then, why don’t you share them in the contents section below, oh, and don’t forget to subscribe. 🙂

All that remains to be said is. I hope you have a lovely week, and you’ve enjoyed reading ‘The Secret Life of A Mushroom’. Remember to look out for my next post…. 

Susan & Caber

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