Chaga mushrooms are found on the wounds of birch trees in Siberia, North America, Asia and Europe. They are touted with health benefits because of their high protein content and ability to provide vitamins and minerals when consumed. Chaga mushrooms take five to seven years to reach maturity and be harvested.
Examine the colour of the mushroom. Chaga mushrooms are black and can crumble easily. They may blend in with the tree wounds, making them difficult to see without closer examination.
Note the shape and size of the mushroom. Chaga mushrooms are large and misshapen. They can measure up to 3 feet long and 1 foot thick, resembling burnt bark.
Break open the mushroom. The inside of the chaga mushroom is yellowish-rusty in appearance. Whitish veins run through the body of the mushroom with the overall colour becoming paler as it nears the tree's body.
Feel the inside of the mushroom. Chaga mushrooms have a corklike texture, proving to be denser than the outer shell.
Examine the inner workings of the chaga. You will find that this mushroom produces porous opening, much like a sponge. Although the pores are large at times, the mushroom does not hold or attract much water.