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BIRCH POLYPORE


This rubbery bracket fungus can be seen growing on Birch trees on the Chevin. It spreads through the dispersal of spores, and at this time of year the air is so full of them that you will breathe in thousands (harmlessly, unless you’re in that tiny group of people who are allergic to them). It’s thought that it establishes itself in small wounds in the bark, then may lay dormant for years, compartmentalised in a small area by the tree’s defence mechanisms, until the tree is weakened – for example by drought – at which point the fungus slowly kills its host. Wood decayed like this often smells of green apples. Although we can’t eat Birch Polypore, hundreds of invertebrates do, and some use it as a breeding site. Its other name is Razorstrop, due to it being used to sharpen razors, knives and other tools. “Otzi the Iceman”, the 5,300 year old mummy found in the Alps, was carrying Birch Polypore.


Photo by Joyce and Mike Clerk and Pixabay

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