Amadou is a spongy, flammable substance prepared from bracket fungi. The species generally used is Fomes fomentarius (formerly Ungulina fomentaria or Polyporus fomentarius) which in English is also called horse's hoof fungus or tinder fungus. It is used as tinder (especially after being pounded flat, and boiled or soaked in a solution of nitre)and also used when smouldering as a portable firelighter.
It is also used in fly fishing for drying out artificial flies. It is sometimes also used to form a felt-like fabric used in the making of hats and other items. It has great water-absorbing abilities.
Fomes fomentarius has also been used in Chinese medicine for chronic indigestion and prescribed for fighting stomach cancer. Today its medicinal properties are being researched by several scientists.
Amadou was a precious resource to ancient people, allowing them to start a fire by catching sparks from flint struck against iron pyrites. Remarkable evidence for this is provided by the discovery of the 5000-year-old remains of "Ötzi the Iceman", who carried it on a cross-alpine excursion before his death/murder and subsequent ice-entombment.