The current use of Phellinus igniarius by the Eskimos of western Alaska

Robert A. Blanchette, Caroline C. Renner, Benjamin W. Held, Carrie Enoch, Sarah Angstman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The Inupiaq and Yup'ik Eskimos of western Alaska have used Phellinus igniarius for hundreds of years by burning the basidiocarps and mixing the ashes with tobacco. A previous publication (Mycologist 15: p.4) reported the historic use of this fungus and documented natural history museum collections of sporophores and special ornate boxes for holding the fungus ashes. When the ashes of P. igniarius were mixed with tobacco it added "a powerful kick" to the chewing tobacco. We now report new information that is disconcerting about the current widespread use of P. igniarius in many Alaska native communities. The use of the mixture of fungus ash and tobacco is being studied and treated as a serious health concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-145
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Basidiomycetes
  • Eskimo culture
  • Ethnomycology
  • Forest fungi
  • Native Americans
  • Nicotine
  • Phellinus igniarius
  • Tobacco


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