This is a mature wild reishi mushroom. Last years mushrooms, while still beautiful, no longer contain any medicinal value.
I’m obviously going for most productive hippie of the year award.
I came across a friends photo of wild reishi she saw at a farmers market and immediately knew that I recognized them. I have seen them growing in a hemlock forest near my pond. Apparently they are abundant in hemlock and maple forests in southern New England.
They stand out like a sore thumb because of their smooth, glossy bright orange color completely contrasting the deep, dark rough barks of the hemlocks and maples. I always took a liking to them for being so bright in a dark place but never came across the fact that they were something highly revered in ancient Chinese medicine and still today. It’s name literally translates to supernatural mushroom. It is one of the oldest known mushrooms used for medicinal purposes.
“only 2 or 3 out of every 10,000 such aged trees will have this growth, and therefore its wild form is extremely rare.”
Partially, I’m very interested in this wild fungi because I love studying ancient Chinese history. Their medicinal history is beyond the realm of any other country I’ve studied and they’ve been doing it a lot longer as well. I love the spiritual relation they have with the earth and how they appreciate what it gives them.
Wild reishi is said to have benefits of longevity, anti-tumor, anti-cancer, immunotherapeutic qualities, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Also noted to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-macrobial properties. There are many mushrooms with powerful medical properties like wild reishi, it’s just that in this day and age it’s easier for pharmaceutical companies to market a pill than have to explain foraging and making tinctures.
I’m going to try and make some tinctures out of the wild reishi I can find but I’m thinking that it will have to wait until next spring. One of the hemlocks that had a bunch growing on it had fallen down at the beginning of this year in a snow storm and the other tree I found covered in mushrooms are all from last year or even before that…mature reishi do not have the white outline and are completely dark red/brown. A young and still growing reishi will be lighter in color with a prominent white outline.
Old reishi covered in the brown spores of the mushrooms above it.