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Finding Artist's Fungus (Ganoderma Applanatum)

Discussion in 'Bushcraft and survival skills' started by TheBrook, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. TheBrook

    TheBrook Member

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    I go in search for a fungus that contain a spongy, flammable substance called amadou that was used by our ancestors to start and move fires between camps:

    Finding Artists Fungus (Ganoderma Applanatum)

    [video=youtube;3BFFWutDzH4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BFFWutDzH4&feature=youtu.be[/video]

    Hope you enjoy,

    Brook
     
    #1 TheBrook, Oct 13, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2014
  2. bambodoggy

    bambodoggy Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    Nice little video that mate :)

    It's interesting as its very rare to see it growing on birch by me (and boy do we have a lot of birch around here) but it is very common on Oak and Beech here. Fungi can be a bit odd like that, I've only ever read of cramp balls growing on dead Ash but I've personally found it growing on dead birch quite happily, not commonly but I have found it :)

    I've wondered about the carrying your fire with you idea ever since I saw it on a RM program years ago. I'm sort of with the thought that if you could use a bow drill or flint and iron pyritise effectively, and I'm guessing people could back then as a necessity rather than a hobby, then why would you waste fungi resources carrying it about? I don't doubt it was done but I'm just not sure how widespread or normal it was. Having said that I'm sure I read about a tribe somewhere who had lost the art of fire lighting as they had simply kept at least one fire burning since long before anybody could remember....like generations back.
    Also, I'm no history or archeological whizz....so what do I know lol. It just doesn't seem to me something I'd do as a matter of course if I was a caveman.

    Which sort of leads me onto why the heck I'd ever want to do it over here in modern times uk unless I was re-enacting something? I can see it might be useful to know but the only time I've ever used fungi this way was on a training course in Sweden a while back where we had to keep leaving the fire to go to lectures and didn't want to have to relight the fire every time we came back. Maybe that's reason enough to know about it.....maybe not ;)

    Thanks for posting the vid anyway :)

    Cheers,

    Bam. :)
     
  3. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    A big fomes will quietly burn away for three or four hours though Bam, and it can be picked up and carried all that time.
    A lot of people find firelighting really difficult. Those of us who do it often enough think it's pretty straightforward, but there are days (weeks :( ) now when I ache so badly that making fire by friction isn't something I'd want to be doing often.
    We used to bank the coal fire at night in the house so that it slowly glowed though until morning when it could be quickly blown into flame again.
    In those circumstances I can see why folks would carry fire; keep fire as glowing embers.
    Once you have it, then you don't need to make it again. Kind of like having a lighter in your pocket :D

    I agree about the fungus not always turning up where they're 'supposed' to. I think that it's all too easy to get stuck in the mindset that this xyz will always be found on this abc, and thus miss out on the enormous range that's available if instead the eyes are kept open and the mind alert. Part of the fun I reckon :D\

    cheers,
    Toddy
     
  4. bambodoggy

    bambodoggy Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)

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    Yer, that all makes sense and as I say I've used it myself.....but once and once only in all my time outdoors. I can see its use in a camp setting but I just can't in a travelling setting and I really can't put my finger on why :)

    I also appreciate fire not being so easy for some but I think back then it would have been an everyday vital skill, much like reading or driving is to us now. Most people would have lived in groups so when fire was needed surely a young group member would have been tasked? I have no basis in fact for thinking this....it just sort of makes sence to me.....but might be completely wrong lol :)
     
    #4 bambodoggy, Oct 13, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  5. TheBrook

    TheBrook Member

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    Thanks for the kind words :-D

    I have also found that fungi don't seem to grow where they are 'supposed to grow' and it's great to hear that Ganoderma Applanatum doesn't adhere to where we think it should live either.

    I think the major issue with starting a friction fire is that it requires a great expenditure of calories, which is something precious that we often taken for granted in modern society. Grabbing a fungus and then touching it to your existing embers and carrying that with you (which from my experimentation with it, can be done without processing) requires little to no effort or caloric expenditure.

    Let me propose another fictitious but not unlikely scenario. Say you need to move camp in a hurry, impending storm for example, being able to focus on moving location and then gathering fire material instead of building a bow drill set gives more time to make better location choices and makes things easier.

    But I suspect that, aside from the caloric deficit created by friction fire creation, the biggest reason could quite possibly be due to laziness...sorry, ease ;-) We all know how to use a screwdriver, but I bet at least once in each of our lives we couldn't be bothered to go to the shed to get it and had a hammer handy, bang in the screw went!

    Another interesting aspect of this fungi is that it can be used as your bow drill base / fire board. It's a lot easier to notch out using primitive tools and quickly turns the friction into an ember due to the amadou content.

    Whatever, the reason for our ancestors using it, we know that they did. It could be to save precious calories, to make life easier, to free up time to do other important tasks or just because it was something different to do, who knows.

    What I do know is the smell when you burn and process these wonderful things is exquisite.

    Cheers,

    Brook
     
  6. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    If it makes life easy, folks will use it :D

    I do take your points though :D

    I know that when I'm demonstrating firelighting, I usually get a piece of the inner of the fomes glowing as well as my tinder bundle. That little glowing bit I put into a split stick shoved in the ground and let the wind keep it alive while I work with the coal that's in my tinder bundle.
    Talking and demonstrating and making fire all at once can be a challenge on some sites :rolleyes: especially when I'm quietly spoken and there are thirty folks watching :eek:
    The little glowing ember is both a second chance if needed, and a start for a member of the public to have a go at blowing a nest into flame.

    If it's been hard work getting an ember I could see that being used in the past as a failsafe, and the larger fomes would just be along those lines.

    I think if folk can reliably make fire with a spindle, then they're unlikely to need this. I can make it almost every other way reliably, but not with the handspindle. I just don't have either the technique right or enough strength in hands and arms to do it.

    In the past, get up in the morning, lemon nearest fit youngling to, "Light a fire for me !?", "Take a bit to old Mrs So-and-So too!", and no need to burn fuel but still have an easy light to set up a hearth when needed ?

    Ach, we could talk this one round and round and round. I think it's a useful thing; if you need it.
    Fun to play with though :)

    atb,
    M
     
  7. crosslandkelly

    crosslandkelly A somewhat settled

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    Here's one of our own using just that technique. About 5.40 in.

    [video=youtube;8qm9-1RjkH8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qm9-1RjkH8[/video]
     

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