Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

This mushroom is commonly known among English speakers as “Hen-of-the-Woods”, “Ram’s Head” and “Sheep’s Head”. The mushroom is also known by its Japanese name “Maitake”, which means “dancing mushroom”. This name is associated with the mushroom’s shape, which some believe resembles a dancing nymph. They also say that in ancient times people who were lucky to find a Maitake started dancing with joy because the mushroom could be exchanged for the same weight of silver. (Maitake sometimes reaches giant size – over 50 cm in diameter and can weigh up to 4 kg). It was mainly used against “disease-causing malevolent spirits” and for calming nerves.
In the English-speaking world Maitake is also known as “Hen-of-the-Woods”.

They say that the English name is a result of the mushroom’s appearance. It looks like the ruffled feathers on the back of a hen sitting on her eggs.
Maitake
More rarely the mushroom is called “Sheep’s Head” and the “King of Mushrooms” (due to its size). The Latin name of the Maitake mushroom is Grifola frondosa. Some researchers believe that “Grifola” comes from “griffin”, the mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. Frondosa means “leaflike,” as the overlapping caps of Maitake mushrooms look like leaves.
The mushroom grows in the wild in Japan and some regions of China. It is traditionally used in both the Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

Maitake is also called the “Japanese Geisha Mushroom”. Geishas were obliged to try each of the numerous dishes of the guest’s menu in order to assure the guest that food was safe. They prevented weight gain by regularly consuming maitake. This edible mushroom is very tasty but Japanese also highly prize it for its healing properties. Historically, Maitake has been used as a tonic. It strengthens the immune system and increases vitality. Observations suggested that Maitake might prevent some of the most severe diseases and effectively control blood pressure levels. Modern research on the Maitake mushroom began in Japan in the mid-1980s and has only recently spread to the United States and other countries around the world. Rising scientific interest in Grifola frondosa has been demonstrated by the fact that MEDLINE®, the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database contains more research on Maitake than on any other medicinal mushroom.
Maitake 2
A cultivation method of Maitake was invented about 20 years ago. Commercial production of maitake started rapidly. In 1981 Japan produced 325 tones of the mushroom for mainly culinary use. Today, global production of Maitake may exceed 50 000 tones.

Cordyceps
Cordyceps
Hericium
Hericium
Coriolus
Coriolus
Polyporus
Polyporus
Auricularia
Auricularia
Coprinus
Coprinus
Reishi
Reishi
Shiitake
Shiitake
Agaricus blazei
Agaricus blazei