Artist Conk Fungi
The Artist Conk fungi, or Ganoderma applanatum, is a perennial shelf fungi that lives mainly on hardwood trees and occasional conifers in forested regions across the globe from Canada, North American, to Europe, Asia and Australia. The name, artist conk, comes from the ability of the spore-bearing surface to bruise when scratched, thus many artists use these conks as a medium. Throughout history, the artist conk has been used for both art and communication. It is both saprophytic which grows in organic matter ( ie. decaying wood), as well as parasitic meaning it grows on a living tree. These saprophytic fungi play an important role in breaking down woody material and returning nutrients back to the soil. Like Reishi, they are woody and primarily used medicinally by different cultures. In Japan, the artist conk is known as kofuki-saru-no-koshikake (コフキサルノコシカケ), meaning "powder-covered monkey's bench", and in China as shu-she-ling-zhi (树舌灵芝), where it has long been utilized in traditional medicine.
Because these conks are perennial, they can live for decades.
In southern Oregon, the artist conk tends to grow on the Oregon Myrtle tree. Because it is perennial, we do not harvest whole conks as they continue to grow each year at the cap margin. Instead, in the late fall, we harvest the new growth each year which you can see as a new ring or furrow on the cap surface. Carefully, we use a knife to cut the outer zone of the new growth. We employ best foraging practices in order to sustain the artist conk habitat and harvestability. We then dry the fungi and process into smaller pieces for tea. Truly from forest to cup.