Scientific name: Grifola frondosa
Synonyms: Ram's Head, Sheep's Head, Signorina mushroom, Maitake, Kumotake, Huai Su Gu
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Natural habitat: Maitake can be found especially on stumps or at the base of dead hardwood such as oaks, elms, blackgum, maples, larch and beech. In few cases Maitake has been found on pines as well.
Appropriate substrate: Hardwood (most suitable: oak, beech, maple, birch, elm)
Usage: Edible mushroom, vital mushroom
Especially in Asia the Maitake mushroom has been known for centuries as a very special and unique mushroom. One reason for this is seen in its dumose, i.e. its bushy form, which allows the mushroom to fit perfectly into its surroundings- an excellent camouflage.
Another reason lies in its components, which are so precious that collectors in ancient Asia kept the places of discovery top secret.
Today, especially in Asia and in the European-American area, the Maitake is known as a delicious, fleshy edible mushroom, which is also characterized by its high nutritional value and its medicinal properties. Because of this, the fungus also gets more and more pharmaceutical attention, and for the last few years it has become a valuable research object in korean, japanese and american studies.
The fruit bodies have a brownish to dark gray color. Out of each fungal strain sprout many overlappingly growing hats with a diameter of 2-10 cm. The young fruiting bodies have a very delicious taste. Fully grown Maitake can be dried and prepared as a tea. In particularly good conditions, Grifola frondosa produces fruiting bodies with a weight of 500 g and more.
The main active components of Grifola frondosa are polysaccharides such as beta-glucan, grifolin and grifolan and high quantities of ergosterol (provitamin D).
Genus: Grifola frondosa
Spores: white, elliptical, smooth and hyaline 6 – 7 x 3,5 – 5 µ