This fungus can be seen all year round in Otley, and its descriptive name makes it relatively easy to identify, although its colour varies from grey to black. Alternative names refer to its suitability as tinder: Tinder Polypore, Tinder Fungus, False Tinder Fungus and Tinder Conk. Otzi, the 5000 year old natural mummy found in the Alps, was carrying this fungus for tinder, and so it is also sometimes called Ice Man Fungus. It gets a foothold on tree trunks through broken bark, and outlives its rotting host, turning from parasite to decomposer. The flesh of the fruit body is hard and can grow quite big – up to 45cm. In spring it can produce 887 million spores an hour!
By Neil Griffin Photo by Joyce Clerk