The willow bracket or fire sponge (Phellinus igniarius (L.) Quél. (1886)) is a mushroom belonging to the Hymenochaetaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Subclass Incertae sedis,
P. igniarius species.
The following terms are synonymous:
– Agaricus igniarius (L.) E.H.L.Krause;
– Boletus igniarius L .;
– Boletus igniarius var. communis Alb. & Schwein .;
– Boletus igniarius var. ellipticus Pers .;
– Boletus nigricans (Fr.) Spreng .;
– Fomes igniarius (L.) Cooke;
– Fomes igniarius (L.) Fr .;
– Fomes igniarius (L.) Gillet;
– Fomes igniarius f. alni Bondartsev;
– Fomes igniarius f. betulae Bondartsev;
– Fomes igniarius f. nigricans Bondartsev;
– Fomes igniarius f. piri Bondartsev;
– Fomes igniarius f. thorns Bondartsev;
– Fomes igniarius f. quercus Bondartsev;
– Fomes igniarius f. salicis Bondartsev;
– Fomes igniarius subsp. alni Bondartsev;
– Fomes igniarius subsp. populinus (Neuman) Campbell;
– Fomes igniarius var. nigricans (Fr.) Rick;
– Fomes igniarius var. roburneus (Fr.) Rick;
– Fomes igniarius var. trivialis (Bres.) Killerm .;
– Fomes nigricans (Fr.) Fr .;
– Fomes nigricans (Fr.) Gillet;
– Fomes nigricans var. nigricans;
– Fomes nigricans var. populinus J.Neuman;
– Fomes roburneus (Fr.) Fr .;
– Fomes roburneus (Fr.) Gillet;
– Fomes trivialis (Fr.) Bres .;
– Ganoderma triviale Bres .;
– Ganoderma trivialis Bres .;
– Mucronoporus igniarius (L.) Ellis & Everh .;
– Mucronoporus nigricans (Fr.) Ellis & Everh .;
– Ochroporus alni (Bondartsev) Fiasson & Niemelä;
– Ochroporus igniarius (L.) J.Schröt .;
– Ochroporus igniarius var. trivialis (Killerm.) Niemelä;
– Ochroporus nigricans (Fr.) Fiasson & Niemelä;
– Phellinus alni (Bondartsev) Parmasto;
– Phellinus ignarius f. alni (Bondartsev) Bondarzew;
– Phellinus igniarius f. alni (Bondartsev) Cetto;
– Phellinus igniarius f. camschadalicus Parmasto;
– Phellinus igniarius f. crataegi D.V.Baxter;
– Phellinus igniarius f. resupinatus Bourdot & Galzin;
– Phellinus igniarius f. salicis (Bondartsev) Bondartsev;
– Phellinus igniarius subsp. nigricans (Fr.) Bourdot & Galzin;
– Phellinus igniarius var. alni (Bondartsev) Niemelä;
– Phellinus igniarius var. nigricans;
– Phellinus igniarius var. trivialis (Bres.) Niemelä;
– Phellinus nigricans (Fr.) P. Karst .;
– Phellinus nigricans var. alni (Bondartsev) Zmitr. & Malysheva;
– Phellinus nigricans var. resupinatus Bourdot & Galzin;
– Phellinus pomaceus f. crataegi (D.V.Baxter) Domański, Orloś & Skirg .;
– Phellinus trivialis (Bres.) Kreisel;
– Phellinus trivialis f. resupinatus (Bourdot & Galzin) Kreisel;
– Placodes igniarius (L.) Quél .;
– Placodes nigricans (Fr.) Quél .;
– Polyporites igniarius (L.) Heer;
– Polyporus igniarius (L.) Fr .;
– Polyporus igniarius var. applanatus Berk. & Broome;
– Polyporus igniarius var. australis Kalchbr .;
– Polyporus igniarius var. nigricans (Fr.) Jørst .;
– Polyporus igniarius var. plicatus (Scop.) Pers .;
– Polyporus igniarius var. resupinatus Berk .;
– Polyporus nigricans Fr .;
– Polyporus nigricans f. trivialis Fr .;
– Polyporus roburneus Fr .;
– Polyporus ungulatus Secr .;
– Poria plicata Scop .;
– Pseudofomes nigricans (Fr.) Lázaro Ibiza;
– Pyropolyporus igniarius (L.) Fr., 1821;
– Pyropolyporus igniarius (L.) Murrill;
– Scindalma igniarium (L.) Kuntze;
– Scindalma nigricans (Fr.) Kuntze;
– Scindalma roburneum (Fr.) Kuntze;
– Ungulina roburnea (Fr.) Pat ..
The term Phellinus comes from the Greek φέλλῐνος phéllinos cork, pertaining to cork (derived from φελλός phellós cork): due to the corky consistency of the carpophore.
The specific epithet igniarius comes from ignis fuoco: pertaining to fire, used as a bait to light a fire and, among native North Americans, mixed with tobacco in their pipes (calumet).
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Phellinus igniarius is a fungus which is preferentially found on living Salix trunks, where it generates white caries in the duramen; however, it is able to bear fruit also on dead plants. It is also found on ash trees, apple trees, etc. .. this fungus acts above all as a parasite, causing decay in the duramen, from which, over time, it also extends to sapwood. When the host plant dies, he continues to grow as a saprophyte, adapting perfectly to the environment.
Phellinus igniarius is a sessile mushroom, i.e. without a stem, with a stirrup measuring 5-20 cm in diameter, but in rare cases it can be 40 cm wide. The thickness of the bracket varies from 2–12 cm to 20 cm in exceptional cases.
The fungus is found in the growth substrate for several years, with variable shapes and sizes. Initially nodular, globose, then ungulates (in the shape of a horse’s hoof), and with a woody consistency.
The surface is sterile gray, gray-brown, blackish, furrowed in a concentric way, often rimosa, ie furrowed in a radial sense and in a shallow way; the presence of green algae is often found on it. The poroid surface has a brown, cinnamon-brown color. The lower portion is made up of very small pores (with a density of 4-6 per square mm), round, gray-yellowish, red-brown during growth, to finally take on rust, gray, gray-brown shades. .
The tubules, which have a length of about 2-7 mm, are hard, woody, multi-layered, rust-colored, a whitish mycelium can be found on the older ones. The dissepimenti, that is the sterile fleshy part, used to delimit the orifices of the tubules, (or that part of fungal tissue that separates the pores from one another in the hymenophore), appear in this case, whole, pruinose, with a thickening somewhat variable which is often much more pronounced than the size of the pores. Thickened, rounded margins.
Dimitic hyphal system, consisting of generating hyphae, from which the hymenial structures will originate, and skeletal hyphae which instead constitute the support cells. The generative hyphae are provided with septa, have ramifications and have no buckle unions, their color is hyaline and the diameter is 1.5-3 µm. The skeletal hyphae have very few septa, they do not have ramifications, the walls have thickenings, they are intertwined in the texture of the dissections, their color is brown and they have a diameter of 5-6 µm.
Under the microscope, hyaline spores are noted, smooth, subglobose or ovoid in shape, with J- amyloid reaction, with slightly thick parietal edges, measuring 5-6.5 x 4.5-7.5 µm. The basidia are hyaline, tetrasporic, clearly clavate, devoid of basal buckle joints and measuring 8-20 x 6-9 µm.
There is no cystidia. Hymenial silks of a brown, reddish-brown color, having a ventricose or subulate shape (that is, in the shape of an awl, narrow and more or less attenuated). Their discovery is inconstant, at times they are rare, in other circumstances numerous. Their measurement is: 12-20 x 4.5-9 µm. [
Phellinus igniarius is a fungus that thrives on saprotrophic nutrition, in which the lignin and cellulose of a host tree degrade and cause white rot.
The fungus forms perennial fruiting bodies that rise as woody, hoof-shaped or disc-shaped brackets from the bark of the infested living tree or dead trunk. The tree species is often willow but can commonly be found on birch and alder and other broadleaf trees.
Customs and Traditions –
Unlike most mushrooms, Phellinus igniarius has a hard woody texture and can persist for many years, building a new surface layer every year.
It was once prized as an ignition material. In Alaska, it is burned by the locals and the ash (punk ash) is mixed with chewing tobacco to enhance the effect of nicotine in the tobacco. Moreover, among the North American natives, it was mixed with tobacco in their pipes (calumet).
In Australia, the Aborigines used Phellinus fruit bodies for medical purposes.
From a food point of view it is considered inedible.
Phellinus igniarius extract contains agaric acid, veratric acid, m-hemipinic acid, ergosterol, saturated fatty acids C22, C24, C26, saturated hydrocarbons C23, C25, glycine, aspartic acid and other amino acids, oxalic acid, mannofucogalactan, xylose oxidase (xylose oxidase), as well as catalase, urease, esterase, polysaccharide, etc.
This mushroom was once used for various medical remedies. Today the extract of this mushroom is used which would have a significant inhibitory effect on a variety of human cancer cells, indicating that it has an indispensable role in antitumor.
According to some in vitro tests it would have the following effects:
– anti-cancer effect, avoid cancer again;
– can stop the growth and transfer of cancer cells;
– can prevent and improve the infection of depressive immunity;
– can relax pain, loss of appetite, weight loss and cancer fatigue, improve the quality of life;
– is used as anti-cancer medicine can accumulate anti-cancer effect and lighten the side effect of anti-cancer medicine.
From an ecological point of view, this mushroom represents a refuge for woodpeckers where these birds dig a nesting chamber since the internal wood is softer and weaker than the outside.
Preparation Method –
Phellinus igniarius is an inedible mushroom while, from a medical point of view, it is used as an inhibitor of a variety of human cancer cells.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Cetto B., 2008. Real mushrooms, Saturnia, Trento.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.