Winter Chaga Hunting In the Wildwood

A fine place to spend a winter's day, in the depths of the Old Wood, where only the cold wind feels talkative . . .

A fine place to spend a winter’s day, in the depths of the Old Wood, where only the cold wind feels talkative . . .

It hit 45F today and was clear and sunny. Sure and for true, the sap was flowing. If this persists into tomorrow I’m going to start tapping maples. Today, Willowisp and I went for a hike and I gathered twelve pounds of chaga–so much I couldn’t fit it into the messenger bag I was carrying. Trekking through the snow in the Old Wood was tricky. It is not so deep but it is dense, almost like thick mud just now. At one point I found a deep place and sunk in to my chest. I was having a hard time pulling myself out of the muck and faithful Willowisp ran over to me and laid down in the snow right in front of me, allowing me to use his withers as a handhold to haul myself out of the sucking, dense stuff. What an incredible dog!

I have found a lot of these this year. This is a finch nest. Last spring, it held eggs the size of peas and chicks no bigger than beans.

I have found a lot of these this year. This is a finch nest. Last spring, it held eggs the size of peas and chicks no bigger than beans.

I seem to have chaga-dar–it’s like I can douse the stuff. Following my instincts, I found three trees bearing nice fruiting bodies, which are currently drying below in the cottage. Buyers should contact Daphne at her Wildwood Bounty site. Canadians can pay be email or cheque (email is preferred), and she has nearly finished setting up credit card payment for European and American customers (who can also pay by money order or cheque). All our chaga is hand processes on an anvil, entirely natural, and you receive a crumble of the whole chaga–which is the healthiest way to have it.

chaga mycelium smallLeft, I have used a hatchet to chip away a fruiting body’s protective rind and you can see the yellow and orange living, healthy mycelium. This mycelium infects and parasitizes the tree, spreading all over under the bark as the years go by. Over a couple decades, it will ultimately overwhelm and kill this birch. In fact, I’d say this particular birch does not have many winters left, but it should fruit a couple more times. When it at last succumbs, I will harvest the tree for firewood.

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4 thoughts on “Winter Chaga Hunting In the Wildwood

  1. Winters Child

    OK, sorry to sound dim but what on Earth is chaga? From what you’ve said, I gather it must be some kind of fungus but it’s not a name I’ve heard of, over here in the UK. Enlightenment please!

  2. You might not find chaga in the UK. It prefers boreal and sub-boreal woods. It only grows on birches, so you might find some there, especially in colder regions. It is a very hard fungus, almost as hard as wood, with a black outer rind and an orange-yellow corky mycelium underneath. It tastes lovely–much like black tea but without the bitterness, so it doesn’t require milk or lemon. It is noteworthy because it is absolutely packed with antibiotics, antivirals and anti-carcinogenics. Most can be steeped out in tea; others must be dissolved out in potable alcohol (just make a tincture with whisky, rum or vodka). It also catches a spark and makes a coal, and so is good for flint and steel kits, and it naturally smolders like charcoal and has a powerful odor-killing quality so it can be smoldered indoors, in which case it removes foul smells and leaves behind a fresh odor like a spring day. It is Nature’s wonder, in my opinion.

    • Winters Child

      Many thanks for that, Cliff, I will keep a look out in our colder woodlands for it. Does it have a proper botanical name? If I knew that, I might be able to find it in one of my reference books. I’ll have a look through what I have anyway.
      Your description of Spring manifesting in your little corner of Earth, sounds wonderful. You are so very blessed to live there! Take care now and many Blessings to you and the family.

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