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Prehistoric Band-aid?

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Saturday, 10th January 2009


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upper surface, birch bracket fungus
lower surface, Piptoporus betulinus

THE BIRCH BRACKET fungus is also known as the razorstrop fungus because dried pieces were used to put an edge on blades. Perhaps this is why the ‘ice-man’ mummy dating from 5,300 years ago, found in 1991 in the Alps near the border between Austria and Italy, was carrying pieces of it. It’s also possible that he used it as a natural band-aid since it has antibiotic properties and has been used to staunch bleeding.


Its light corky flesh has also been used as a fire-lighter, to smoke out bees, as blotting paper and, in museums, cut into strips on which insect specimens are pinned.


I think I’ve had this bracket for 10 or 20 years. I remember that it was quite difficult to wrench it off a fallen birch log. It’s as light as a meringue.

Birch Bracket Fungus
Piptoporus betulinus
13cm across