The Chaga mushroom has been a secret for a while, but many herbal enthusiasts are getting wise to the fungi. It may not look too appetizing on the surface, but underneath is a mushroom that many experts are calling a super-food.
The health benefits of Chaga range from preventing cancer to reducing inflammation and improving the immune system. So, what exactly is the Chaga mushroom, and why is it getting so much attention lately? This page – divided into three sections – aims to answer those questions and more.
What is Chaga?
The official name for the Chaga mushroom is the Inonotus Obliquus. It’s a parasitic organism that grows primarily on birch trees. You can find it growing naturally in the northern hemisphere, specifically in colder environments.
Chaga appears on trees as a black substance because of the high melanin content. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the primary benefits of Chaga is in its ability to produce healthy skin cells. On the inside, its colour has a yellow-orange tint.
Growth & Harvesting
Where does Chaga Grow?
You can find Chaga in Russia, Korea, North East Europe, and some areas in North America. In North America, you’ll almost exclusively find Inonotus Obliquus growing on white or golden Birch trees. Some climates in North America that support Chaga are the northernmost states in the US, as well as some regions in Canada.
Once you know the location, you can find Chaga growing on trees in the wild. You may even stumble upon the stuff on a hike in the woods. Chaga mushroom appears as black substance growing out of a tree and people often describe it as looking like burnt charcoal.
There have been a few attempts to recreate Chaga in a controlled environment using potatoes as a host, but these have failed. The results have spawned a far less-potent product than organic Chaga, which is why we at TRUNORTH take pride in our ability to harvest sustainably from natural sources.
It can take about five years for a Chaga mushroom to fully develop, so make sure your target is ready to harvest. One helpful tip is to put your hand on the growth. If your fingers are still touching the tree, then you should probably leave it alone and let it grow for a bit longer. If not, it’s ready to harvest.
When you’re harvesting Chaga mushrooms, leave about 15-20% of the spores on the tree. If you take all of the fungi, you run the risk of killing the rest of the organism and preventing further growth.
You’ll need to dry the Chaga mushroom after you harvest. If you have big chunks, break them down into smaller pieces, so they dry faster. Put them on a clean surface in a dry, moderately warm place in the house.
After a few days on the windowsill or in a moderately-powered dehydrator, the Chaga mushroom will be ready for grinding, and you can make yourself some Chaga mushroom tea.
Sustainable Harvesting Practices
We at TRUNORTH have put sustainable harvesting practices in place, as we use a highly advanced GPS tracking system to log where we have harvested. This method allows us to give ample time for the Chaga we harvest to grow back fully.
Our harvesting specialists take note of the leaves and branches of the tree before harvesting. If the branches appear to be brittle with no pine-smell, the tree is likely dead, and the Chaga will not be harvested. Harvesting is usually best left to professionals, but if you know what you’re looking for, it is possible to do it yourself.
As previously mentioned, it’s essential that anyone who harvests Chaga leaves around 15-20% of the mushroom intact. If they take the whole thing, it will kill the long-term growth of the fungi. Cutting too deep could also do irreparable damage to the tree, which brings other environmental concerns.
If we want to keep enjoying the benefits Chaga has to offer, we need to harvest the mushroom in a way that will last. Without sustainable harvesting, the Chaga supply will dry-up.
Wild Chaga mushrooms are our only source of organic Chaga. As mentioned earlier, they’re impossible to farm, so it’s critical that we take care when harvesting from their sources. Sustainability is the key.
Chaga mushroom health benefits are staggering, which is why they’ve been growing in popularity over the years. They’re only present in specific climates and require precise handling to ensure they continue to grow.
Chaga is widely renowned as a superfood, with its origins dating back as far as history will take us. It reduces inflammation and improves the immune system among other benefits, and is worth adding to your diet so you can see for yourself. If you find Chaga in the wild, make sure to follow the responsible harvesting practices, so someone else can experience the wonder that is the Chaga mushroom.