• Proposed
  • Under Assessment
  • Preliminary Assessed
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Fomitopsis officinalis (Vill.) Bondartsev & Singer

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Scientific name
Fomitopsis officinalis
(Vill.) Bondartsev & Singer
Common names
práchnovček lekársky
pniarek (modrzewnik) lekarski
IUCN Specialist Group
Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball
Assessment status
Preliminary Category
VU A2cd+3cd+4cd OR just A2cd+3cd?
Proposed by
Tatyana Svetasheva
Izabela L. Kalucka, Tatyana Svetasheva
Tsutomu Hattori, Izabela L. Kalucka, Beatrice Senn-Irlet, Tatyana Svetasheva
Comments etc.
Anders Dahlberg, Vladimír Kunca, Thomas Læssøe

Assessment Status Notes

Anders to ISA: Reduce the no of references . include only the important ones.
Can we expect the future decline to be in the same range as in the past? Should it perhaps be A2cd+4cd or just A2cd? If the prospected decline into the future is lower it may not exceed 30%?
If possible some more information about North America.


Fomitopsis officinalis is a wood-inhabiting parasitic fungus forming distinctive conks that can be more than 50 cm long, hoof-shaped or columnar. It is widely distributed in the the northern Hemisphere, mostly in subalpine, montane hypoarctic and boreal old-growth forests on large and old coniferous trees (e.g., Larix). It is commonly known as Agarikon and has since ancient times been collected for medical purposes. It is globally reported rare or extremely rare and has declined significantly during the last centuries. The species is assessed as Vulnerable under criterion A2cd+3cd+4cd because of population reduction observed in the past and projected in the future 50 years, caused by habitat loss and collection of basidiocarps for medical purposes.

Taxonomic notes

Agaricum officinale (Vill.) Donk
Boletus laricis F. Rubel
Boletus officinalis Vill.
Boletus purgans J.F. Gmel.
Cladomeris officinalis (Vill.) Quél.)
Fomes fuscatus Lázaro
Fomes laricis (F. Rubel) Murrill
Fomes officinalis (Vill.) Bres.
Laricifomes officinalis (Vill.) Kotl. & Pouzar
Piptoporus officinalis (Vill.) P. Karst.
Polyporus officinalis (Vill.) Fr.
Ungulina officinalis (Vill.) Pat.

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

Fomitopsis officinalis is a famous species known from ancient centuries as an outstanding remedy used in formal and informal medicine. For ages this fungus has been intensively collected in significant amount which together with a decrease of habitats due to forest cutting has led to a sharp decline of its population.  This species has wide distribution all over the northern Hemisphere . However to date everywhere it is reported as rare or extremely rare and declining species.  Red listed at least in 8 countries. Included in Red Data Books of 13 regions of Russia.

Geographic range

It is a Holarctic species with predominantly montane hypoarctic and boreal distribution. It is known from North America, Europe (especially mountain areas), Ural, Asia (Siberia, Far East, China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, India), and Africa (Morocco).  The species distribution approximately coincides Larix spp in Eurasia and Larix, Pseudotsuga and some species of Picea in North America.

Population and Trends

Fomitopsis officinalis has declined significantly during the last centuauries. There are many records from different countries and continents about continuing reduction of population and decrease of habitats compared with the first half of XX century. Here some examples: “There are 109 records of F. officinalis in British Columbia since 1940 (when data collection first began), but only 19 of those records were added in the past 20 years. It remains to be determined if the reduced sightings and collections are a result of habitat loss (reduction of old growth sites)” (Callan, 2000); ” Neuman (1914) reported that ‘‘various collectors’’ had noted Fomitopsis officinalis occurring on larch in northern Wisconsin. Although a few reports of this fungus have been confirmed from the Great Lakes region (Gilbertson and Ryvarden 1986), F. officinalis no longer is considered to occur in the Midwest’ (Lindner et all, 2006); Up to the 18th century the species was quite frequent in Poland, and in some places very common; in the 20th century it was almost completely eradicated and at present, only six localities are known (Łuszczyńska and Łuszczyński, 2009). “Everywhere in the Asian part of Russia it is now a rare species. During 26 years of investigation it was found only 46 times in 26 localities. Today the species is rare in regions where it earlier was common. In Altai Murashkinsky (1939)  mentioned, than in the beginning of 20th century 10% of the larches were infected by L.officinalis. In 2001 we found it there only once” (Muknin et all., 2005). This species was quite common in Irkutsk region and Buryatia Republik, but during years it has been harvested (in tons) a lot for medicinal purposes. Present number of known localities in Europe is over approaching 100 of which 80% are in the French and Swiss Alps. In Lithuania and Spain there are no records after 1968. In France, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia a decrease has been noticed for the last 50 to 100 years. Slight increase in the number of sites was reported in Switzerland, probably connected with ceased collecting and more sustainable forest management. In Russia -  about 50 registered in science sources, but can be about 1000 or even more. Widespread but rare in North America. Rare in Japan, and only seen in matured Larix or Picea forests. Rare, but seen in several places including Hokkaido Pref., Shizuoka Pref., Tochigi Pref. in Japan.The species is nationally red-listed in several European countries, e.g., Austria, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia (regional Red Lists), Slovakia, Switzerland (Fraiture & Otto, 2015). It is protected by law in Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia. Fomitopsis officinalis has long lived mycelia in wood and long generation time (3 generations estimated to corresponds to at least 50 yrs, cf Dahlberg & Mueller, 2011). It is assessed to declining due to past, ongoing and projected habitat loss and continuous harvesting, declining 30-50% during 50 years. The decline in the European population is assessed to be larger, exceeding 50% (cf Muknin et al., 2005), and an European assessment may qualify F. officinalis to be classified as Endangered. 

Population Trend: Deteriorating

Habitat and Ecology

Fomitopsis officinalis is a parasite that continue to live as as a saprotroph after the death of the tree. Most frequently it occurs on trees belonging to the genus of Larix, less frequently to Pseudotsuga, Abies, Pinus, Picea, Tsuga and Cedrus. With the exception of Spain, where it was found on Pinus nigra subsp. salzmannii, it occurs in Europe exclusively on larch trees: Larix decidua, L. decidua var. polonica, L. sibirica. In Asia, it grows also on L. gmelinii and L. cajanderii, and seldom on Pinus sibirica and P. sylvestris. In North America, it was found also on Pseudotsuga menziesii, Picea sitchensis, Pinus ponderosa, and Larix occidentalis.  It obviously prefers old and thick trees and hence old-growth forests predominantly in mountain areas. It causes brown rot of wood.  It has long life up to 70-80 years old. Perennial basidiocarps grow up to 40x65 cm (Mukhin et all, 2005).
In Europe, the species is associated mainly with virgin/old growth subalpine larch forests; it occurs almost exclusively in natural forests (very rarely in plantations or in parks) (Fraiture and Otto, 2015).

ForestBoreal ForestSubarctic Forest


Logging of subalpine forests, cutting of larch forests and single old veteran trees of Larix spp. and other conifer hosts. Changes in the age structure of forests, degradation and loss of habitats due to different economic purposes (logging, building of tourists and sports constructions).  Collecting of fruibodies for medicinal purposes.

Biological resource useIntentional use (species being assessed is the target)Logging & wood harvesting

Conservation Actions

Establishment of areas protected by law (National Parks, nature reserves) covering places of the species occurrence, prohibition of logging and removing of single old larch trees (and other hosts). Prohibition of unlimited fruitbodies collecting, especially for trade. Strict controll of the fungus trade.

Site/area protectionResource & habitat protectionSite/area managementHarvest managementTrade managementNational level

Research needed

Molecular research of F. officinalis specimens from different continents and parts of the world to check conspecificity. Inventory studies and monitoring of known sites.

TaxonomyPopulation size, distribution & trendsLife history & ecology

Use and Trade

The basidiomata have been widely used since ancient times for medical purposes. They were believed to posses antiviral and actibacterial properties, and to be a panaceum for all ailments (see Piętka and Szczepkowski, 2004 for detailed review).

Medicine - human & veterinary


Bondartsev AS. ; 1953. The polyporaceae of the European USSR and Caucasia. Moskva-Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR.
Callan Brenda E., 1999. Two Web-Accessible Fungus Databases and Their Relationship to a Preliminary List of Rare Macrofungi for British ColumbiaProc. Biology and Management of Species and Habitats at Risk, Kamloops, B.C., 15–19
Dahlberg A., Croneborg H. 2003. 33 threatened fungi in Europe: Complementary and revised information on candidates for listing in Appendix I of the Bern Convention. Uppsala: Swedish Species Information Centre, 82 p.
Gregori, A., Piskur, B., Gregori, M., Jurc, D., 2007: Spread of the Fomitopsis officinalis inoculated in stems of living larch in Slovenia, The fourth international medicinal mushroom conference, Ljubljana, 304–305.
Gregori, A. 2013. Medicinal mushrooms native to Slovenia. Acta Biologica Slovenica, 56 (2),
Fraiture A., Otto P. (eds) 2015. Distribution, ecology & status of 51 macromycetes in Europe. Results of the ECCF Mapping Programme. Botanic Garden Meise, Meise.
Kautmanova I. 2006. Redlist species of fungi held in the collections of the Slovak National Museum – Natural History Museum (Bra). Iii. Fomitopsis officinalis (Vill.) Bondartsev et Singer (En). Acta Rer. Natur. Mus. Nat. Slov.Vol. LII. p.3-5. Bratislava, 2006
Kotkova V, 2015 - data on Fomitopsis officinalis from Mycological Herbarium of Komarov Botanical institute RAS (LE)
Red Data Book of of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug - Ugra: animals, plants, fungi. Ed. 2nd / Edited by AM Vasin, AL Vasina. - Ekaterinburg: Publishing Basco, 2013. 460 p (in Russian)
Lindner D.L.et all, 2006: FUNGAL DIVERSITY AND FOREST MANAGEMENT. Mycologia, 98 (2): 195–217.
Łuszczyńska B., Łuszczyński J. 2009. Fomitopsis officinalis (Basidiomycota) population in the Góry Świętokrzyskie Mountains. [In:] Mirek Z., Nikiel A. (eds). Rare, relict and endangered plants and fungi in Poland. W. Szafer Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, pp. 289-292.
Mukhin, V.A., Kotiranta, H., Knudsen, H., Ushakova, N.V., Votintseva, A.A., Corfixen, P., Chlebicki, A., 2005. Distribution, frequency and biology of Laricifomes officinalis in the Asian part of Russia. Russian Journal of Mycology and Phytopathology, 39 (5): 34–42.
Piętka, J., Szczepkowski A. 2004. Localities of Fomitopsis officinalis in Poland. Acta Mycologica, 39 (1): 33–45.
Fungi of the national and regional Red Data Books of Russia, 2014 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269463409_Fungi_of_the_national_and_regional_Red_Data_Books_of_Russia

Known distribution - countries

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted