Thursday, August 19, 2010

Autumn is coming, time to look for Lion's Mane Mushrooms!


In case you haven't met, let me introduce you to the wonderful, the treasured, the delicious, the illusive... Lion's Mane Mushroom (hericium erinaceus).  I'll start by telling you this:  They are absolutely scrumptious when diced and sauteed with butter and onions, AND TASTE LIKE LOBSTER.  No kidding!


In case you have chosen to steer clear of wild mushrooms for fear of eating a poisonous one and ending up in the hospital *or DEAD*, don't worry!  There aren't any poisonous varieties that look like the Lion's Mane Mushroom, so you are reasonably safe in that aspect.  I have read that it is available fresh or dried at Asian food stores, but I have never seen any there.  Kits for growing them at home are available at Fungi Perfecti online.  They have an awesome catalog, by the way. 


Look for them in the late summer and fall on dead or damaged hardwoods, particularly the American Beech.


We only found one last year, and it was only the size of a baseball.  We are doubly motivated to find a huge one this fall!


They have an animal-like look...  like they could just turn around and crawl away.  Lion's Mane Mushrooms have long been considered a medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese medicine.  A double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial showed improved cognitive ability.  It has also been used as an alternative treatment for cancer, with some studies showing positive results.  Medicinal benefits aside, it is simply delicious!


We found this hot mama while searching for Lion's Mane Mushrooms.


Also some sort of wild Magnolia...


And one of these...


Oh, I hate snakes!  When hiking, the Old Hippie always leads the way, and he completely doesn't notice them on the trail.  I can't tell you how many times he has stepped right over them, oblivious, then I spot them on the trail between us!  He is charmed for sure.


And this was the creepiest thing.  He crawled into my tire... and disappeared.  Very unsettling!

Lion's Mane Facts

  • This species has many names including the bearded tooth mushroom and the pom pom mushroom. It is sometimes called the hedgehog mushroom, although that name usually refers to a different species altogether, Hydnum repandum.
  • All species of Hericium are considered saprotrophs, meaning they feed on dead material. Hericium erinaceus is also a parasite, meaning it attacks and kills living trees. So you are doing the tree a favor by harvesting them.
  • They're found in late summer to fall on dead or dying hardwood trees, especially oak and beech. They grow in North America, China, Japan, and Europe.
  • This doesn't look like your typical mushroom. It has no real cap and no stem. Instead it sports long spines (greater than 1 cm) coming out from a single clump.
  • Their color is mainly white, although they become brown or yellow with age. Their spore print is white as well.
  • This is not a common species of mushroom, so finding one may be a rare treat. They grow higher up on trees rather than at the base, which means that they're also often missed during a mushroom hunt.
Happy mushroom hunting!  Please let me know if you are lucky enough to find one this fall!
Peace, love and happiness,
Earth Mother


10 comments:

The Blue Faerie said...

At first I saw the photo and thought, "Oh God no! The Monster Burger was left out overnight and now it's molded over and onto the tree!" Then I read the caption and came back to reality. A little. I don't think I've ever seen a mushroom like that before. If I did my childlike instinct to poke at it with a stick might come into play. :P

Chris in the Emerald City said...

Hi Blue Faerie!

That is too funny! The first one we ever saw, we left on the tree. We took photos because we just thought it was strange. I later researched, found out how prized they are, and could have kicked myself. But... it really doesn't look like something that you would want to eat. Yep, it looks EXACTLY like something you would want to poke with a stick!

Peace,
Chris............

Josh Healy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Blue Faerie said...

Really? I wonder what kind of recipes they're used in...

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

What an amazing mushroom! Unfortunally it doesn´t exist over here (or fortunally for the trees perhaps :-) ). I think we only have one mushroom that lives on trees that is edible here. Thanks for showing it here!


I like snakes a lot :-) Perhaps I wouldn´t if we had any dangerous ones here. We have one with poison but it isn´t worse than a bee sting they say. But my dogs has been bitten a couple of times and the swelling is big even if it doesn´t hurt that long.

Have a great day now!
Christer.

Oldfool said...

Taste like lobster. I have to have.

Judith said...

I love mushrooms! I guess I'm a "fungus among us" type, I've never seen them here, but I'm sure to check out the web page.... hummm my son's room would be perfect for growing mushrooms!!!!

Chris in the Emerald City said...

@Blue Faerie...

I've only had it diced, cooked with butter and onions. It's amazing.

@ Christer...

Even nice little green grass snakes give me fits. Not worse than spiders, tho.

@Oldfool...

Yes, indeed. And they grow to be as big as a basketball. Plenty for a couple of meals for 2.

@Judith...
I think I will be ordering one of their indoor kits. One variety produces over 1000 mushrooms for about $25. You should order a catalog. It is full of loads of info on mushrooms... a good resource for free. I will probably give some as holiday gifts this year.

Peace.......
Chris................

collectingyourself said...

Thanks for the mushroom info. I have never seen such a thing. Looks like a cat curled up on a tree. I like your site. It is charming.

Jeanne said...

WOW! How cool! I've never heard of the Lion's Mane Mushroom.

And what a wonderful walk you took us on. I really enjoyed myself. :0)

Seeing the snake crawl into your wheel reminded me of something that happened to my MIL one winter while in Mexico...She and her traveling companion had stopped for the night somewhere on the west coast, way south in Mexico. When they got ready to leave the next morning, they discovered a Boa had wrapped itself around one of the trailer axles. They had to get several guys from the local town to help dislocate the boa so they could continue on their travels. Not what I would want to wake-up to in the morning!


P.S. Howdy Neighbor! {waving} :0)