Chaga Mushroom Identification. What Does Birch Tree Chaga Look Like?

How To Identify Birch Tree Chaga

When foraging for the chaga mushroom there is not doubt that you will more often than not run into tree burls, black knots or other types of Fools' chaga or False Chaga the majority of the time.  

What trees does chaga grow on?

The Chaga fungus is in fact a type of white rot fungus attacking the heartwood of the tree. Learn how to identify Chaga and what trees do chaga grow on because it can grow on many different species of trees in the forest and can easily be mistaken for other types of fungi or growth. Before we understand what chaga looks like, let's start by identify what false chaga looks like.  Below are examples of fool's chaga that are often mistaken for chaga fungus.   

There is a lot of confusion around mushrooms that grow on birch trees. Chaga should only be harvested from living white or yellow Birch trees. Never harvest chaga from dead or fallen trees, also known as 'dead chaga' will appear black inside and out and will most likely contaminated with mycotoxins.  

Does Chaga Grow on Poplar Trees?

Does chaga grow on aspen tree?  Yes, and a host of other species as well including poplar. Avoid chaga trees that look similar to Birch, specially Aspen, Popular, Beech trees.  The fruiting body of Chaga on a host tree that is not Birch does not contain the highly prized betulinic acid which only comes from Birch and does not offer the same medical quality as Birch Chaga does.

Mushrooms that grow on birch trees

Chaga vs. Burl

fool's chaga on oak tree
Fool's Chaga on Oak Tree


Not Chaga - corky bark disease

Corky Bark Disease can be mistaken for false chaga

Not Chaga Mushroom

Tree Burl are often found and are false chaga 

NOT Chaga Mushroom

Tree Rot another form of Fool's chaga

NOT Chaga Mushroom

False chaga guised as a burl on popular

 NOT Chaga Mushroom

Fool's Chaga - NOT Chaga Mushroom

NOT Chaga Mushroom

Cherry Tree Wound - more false chaga

NOT Chaga Mushroom

Strange tree Diseases Growths - Fool's chaga

As you can see chaga mushroom identification is not always easy.  There are many different growths that can easily be mistaken for as false chaga.  Be mindful of what you take from the forest and ensure that it is in fact the correct birch fungus and not fool's chaga.  If you are not sure - leave it be.  Just like any forest mushroom use caution before you decide to ingest.

What does Chaga look like?  Chaga Photos

Chaga On Tree

chaga mushroom

Heather and blair from annanda chaga holding chaga mushroom
how to dry chaga mushroom
chaga mushroom on tree, birch fungus
harvesting chaga mushroom
Refer to our Complete Guide to Chaga Mushrooms for more helpful advice and guidance into the world of Chaga Mushrooms and for tips on chaga mushroom identification.