Fungal mycelial mats used as textile by indigenous people of North America

Robert A. Blanchette, Deborah Tear Haynes, Benjamin W. Held, Jonas Niemann, Nathan Wales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The indigenous people of the United States and Canada long have used forest fungi for food, tinder, medicine, paint, and many other cultural uses. New information about historical uses of fungi continues to be discovered from museums as accessions of fungi and objects made from fungi collected over the last 150+ years are examined and identified. Two textiles thought to be made from fungal mats are located in the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and the Oakland Museum of California. Scanning electron microscopy and DNA sequencing were used to attempt to identify the fungus that produced the mats. Although DNA sequencing failed to yield a taxonomic identification, microscopy and characteristics of the mycelial mats suggest that the mats were produced by Laricifomes officinalis. This first report of fungal mats used for textile by indigenous people of North America will help to alert museum curators and conservators as well as mycological researchers to their existence and hopefully lead to more items being discovered that have been made from fungal fabric.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
to R.A.B. was provided by USDA Hatch project MIN-22-081. The authors thank Christine Puza, Head of Scientific Analysis and Head of Wood Objects and Furniture, Williamstown Art Conservation Center, Williamstown, Massachusetts, for taking fragments from the wall pocket for analysis, and Brenda Callan, Mycologist, Pacific Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, Victoria, British Columbia, for helpful comments and for FIG. 2C. N.W. acknowledges Andy Foote and the Danish National High-throughput Sequencing Centre for assistance in generating Illumina data. Portions of this project were undertaken on the Viking Cluster, a high-performance compute facility provided by the University of York. The authors are grateful for computational support from the University of York High Performance Computing service, Viking, and the Research Computing team. The DNA sequencing data are available on the NCBI Sequence Read Archive in BioProject PRJNA691059.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Mycological Society of America.


  • Agarikon
  • Fomitopsis officinalis
  • Laricifomes officinalis
  • biofabrication
  • ethnomycology
  • mycotextile

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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