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a material that smolders when a spark falls on it. Punk is used to start a fire by striking steel against a flint. It is prepared from the sporophores of various fungi of the genus Fomes, particularly the tinder fungus (F. fomentarius), which grows mainly on the birch tree. To obtain punk, the sporophore is separated from the rest of the fruiting body, impregnated with potassium nitrate, and dried. Punk was used to kindle fires primarily before matches came into widespread use.