Haploporus odorus: A Sacred Fungus in Traditional Native American Culture of the Northern Plains
The Diamond Willow fungus has an incredibly strong anise-like odor.
Native Americans of the Northern Plains considered this mushroom to have healing and spiritual properties. Haploporus odorus can be found growing on hardwood trees in northern boreal forests.
In North America, it prefers the Diamond Willow tree, which gives it the common name “Diamond Willow Fungus.” Another English common name is the “Aniseed Polypore,” which refers to its unique aroma.
One of the primary uses of H. odorus was as medicine. The mushroom was used to stop bleeding and to treat coughs, diarrhea, and dysentery. Necklaces made with pieces of this mushroom were likewise thought to ward off disease. The inclusion of H. odorus on sacred war robes indicates that the mushroom was revered for its general protective powers. When added to scalp necklaces, it likely helped to placate the spirits of the dead. There is at least one report that the fungus was stolen from other tribes, so it was probably often taken as a trophy during battle. The modern Woods Cree use it as a smudge for healing, to call spirits, and to expel bad influences.
Other researchers who have talked to Native Americans about modern uses found that H. odorus is also used as a kind of trance-inducing incense. The mushroom easily catches a spark and burns very slowly. As it burns, it releases an incense-like aroma. In certain Canadian tribes, this is used to help induce a trance that allows communication with the dead.
We have a very limited quantity of this, as the fungus is rare and hard to find.
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