Choosing to harvest medicinal plants from the wild is commonly known as wildcrafting. While a great deal of folks feel that looking to the forest to provide you with medicine is either unnecessarily primitive or pointless in the age of pharmaceutical advancements, knowing how to identify and utilize plants in your environment that can heal you is a critical skill for any survivalist to possess.
The dive into wildcrafting can be intimidating. A great way to get started with it is to work on gathering plants, herbs or mushrooms that can be easily made into teas and tinctures. Mushrooms from the Ganoderma family are a great example of a medicinal fungus held in high esteem by modern day wildcrafters and practitioners of Eastern medicine. In the United States, both the Western Varnish Conk, as well as the Artist Conk are found throughout the coastal range of Northern California, Oregon, Alaska, the Rocky Mountains and in the Sierra Nevada. Though neither are edible as a result of their woody texture, these two mushrooms can be used as powder, extract, and in tea. Both these conks are shelf like with shiny surface crust. They are found growing on stumps or at the bases of hardwoods and conifers. The Chinese call the Western Varnish Conk “ling chih” which means “mushroom of immortality,” as they found its properties to be beneficial to longevity and specifically in fighting off cancer.
Here is a step-by-step demonstration of how to process and Artist Conk from its harvested state into tea.
Step 1: After harvesting the conk, allow the mushroom 24 hours to dry. An Artist Conk is easily identifiable over its cousin the Western Varnish Conk because you can draw on its underside while the mushroom is still wet and freshly harvested.
Step 2: Cut the conk into 1-inch-by-1-inch segments. This will allow it to be ground into powder.
Step 3: Grind pieces of conk in the coffee grinder until they are a fine powder.
Step 4: Place into tea bags.