Botanical name: Polyporus umbellatus
Common name: Polyporus
Literal name translation: pig's fungus
Part used in Chinese medicine: whole fungus
Major Chinese medicine actions:
Promotes urination, leeches dampness, facilitates fluid metabolism
Photo 1: Polyporus umbellatus; author Laszio Nemeth; permission under GFDL
Zhu Ling is found in deciduous woodland regions in northeastern North America, Europe, and the temperate regions of China, commonly growing on dead and fallen trees and stumps.
There has been a great deal of research in the field of medicinal mushrooms and many, including Polyporus umbellatus are being studied extensively for their apparent immune enhancing properties. Zhu Ling has demonstrated protective and regenerative effects on cells exposed to radiation and chemotherapy and exhibits strong anti-tumor properties. According to Paul Stamets, a leading mycology researcher, there is promising evidence documenting the ability of Polyporus umbellatus to completely inhibit the parasite that causes malaria.
Growing and Propagation
Polypores form giant clumps of fruiting bodies that grow on wood, commonly occurring on dead or downed trees in the forest. They have a hard exterior and spores are produced in tubes on the underside of the fruiting body. They grow by breaking down woody material and other plant matter such as leaves, and are know as "wood decomposers", helping to replenish the soil and facilitate carbon and nitrogen cycling. Growing polypores and other medicinal mushrooms is complex and can be explored further in such books as "Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" by Paul Stamets.
Harvesting and Preparation
For medicinal use, good quality Zhu Ling is heavy and solid. The surface should be smooth and black while the inside should be white and without holes. In Chinese medicine, the herb is generally used in its raw, dried form, without special preparation.