Chaga cannot be grown in a lab like other medicinal mushrooms, rather, it grows only on living trees, primarily Birch. As demand for chaga increases, harvesters have a moral responsibility to protect this species from over-harvest and ultimately, extinction. Here I present an open source method to protect and encourage the proliferation of this crucial resource.

The process is simple. Chaga mycelium from the fresh chaga sclerotia, or fresh chaga fruit body, is cultured and isolated on petri dishes. Then it is transferred to an ideal sterile substrate such as Birch dowels. Once this substrate is fully colonized with chaga mycelium, the dowels are inserted into a drilled hole upon a living Birch tree and sealed with wax. Wait 6 years…

Here is an info-graphic from the Finnish Forest Association. The steps translate:  1. Mycelium growing in laboratory, 2. Planting to a birch, 3. Burl growing for 5-6 years, 4. Harvesting of the burls. Picture: Suomen Pakuri

There are a few companies in Europe already doing this. They are marketing their chaga mycelium inoculation service as a business investment to land owners, as a way to capitalize on their trees before selling them for firewood. They aren’t doing this from a conservation standpoint, in other words. Here’s a link to two sites:,minimum%20diameter%20of%2010%20cm.

I contacted two of these prominent mycelium producers and requested any research, data, photos, or other information regarding the process. I wasn’t given any information and was informed there isn’t any long term research that’s been conducted on this process.

As it stands we are in year 1 of our research. I have successfully cultured the chaga mycelium onto petri dishes, transferred it to dowels, and inoculated living Birch trees. I am collecting GPS co-ordinates and making observations. Additionally I am marking and collecting data on other chaga specimens both harvested, partially harvested, and left intact to publish a long-term study on chaga’s life cycle and effect from harvesting. I will post updates here. Let’s share this information, and protect this precious organism.

Callen Troy Christensen