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Grifola frondosa ~ Fall Wild Mushroom Hunting Tips ~ Hen of the Woods


Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of trees, particularly oaks. The mushroom is commonly known among English speakers as hen-of-the-woods, ram’s head and sheep’s head. In the United States’ supplement market, as well as in Asian grocery stores, the mushroom is known by its Japanese name maitake (舞茸), which means “dancing mushroom”. Throughout Italian American communities in the northeastern United States, it is commonly known as the signorina mushroom. G. frondosa should not be confused with Laetiporus sulphureus, another edible bracket fungus that is commonly called chicken of the woods or “sulphur shelf”. The fungus becomes inedible like all polypores when they are older, because it is too tough to eat.

The fungus is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom, an aid to balance out altered body systems to a normal level. It is widely eaten in Japan, and its popularity in western cuisine is growing, although the mushroom has been alleged to cause allergic reactions in rare cases.


Grifola frondosa: The Hen of the Woods ~ by Michael Kuo


Grifola frondosa, sometimes called the “hen of the woods,” is a soft-fleshed polypore recognized by its smoky brown, wavy caps, which are organized in large clusters of rosettes arising from a single, branched stem structure. It is usually found near the bases of oaks, where it causes a butt rot. It is very similar to Meripilus sumstinei (which has larger individual caps, smaller pores, and bruises black) and to Polyporus umbellatus (which has more clearly defined individual caps and stems). Microscopic features will also help separate these species.

Cooking and storing
The Hen of the Woods, AKA Maitake

Anything you can do with button mushrooms you can try with Maitake!




10 responses

  1. While I don’t have Grifola frondosa and don’t even know if it grows here in Australia, let alone Tasmania (the furthest flung bit of Australia…), I DO have hens in the woods. I have ninja hens in the woods. I also have quolls in the woods. When ninja hens meet ninja quolls it aint pretty 😦

    October 16, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    • awww 😦 … i doubt there are any there as this is woodland fungus. they love cemeteries and old trees. they grow in the same places annually so once you know the spot you are golden. wonder what kind of mushrooms if any are available down under … i like puff balls too but they are more spring and summer mushrooms. those need picked early or they get buggy

      October 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      • We live right next door to a very old cemetery (for Australian standards, 1860’s) and our property is covered in trees but I doubt that they are anywhere near here. We get puff balls. I read somewhere that all species of puffballs are edible but I wouldn’t quote me on that! 😉

        October 16, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      • 🙂 i do not know for certain either without researching

        October 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      • When I was a kid, I/WE the gang of rebels used to eat these ( Puffballs by the hundreds ) 😀 ….Don’t worry they won’t kill you, the best you can get is constipation, that if you eat too many 😀

        October 20, 2014 at 6:45 am

      • Forget about puffballs for now…lol….I sit here going true the whole site of ( Auntie dogma )….You do realise what an wonderful site it is ???….Oh moi, I JUST LOVE IT….;)

        October 20, 2014 at 6:51 am

      • thank you, i love it too 🙂 thank you for all you do and being huge part of site’s success xo … i did some redecorating, trying to make it easier to read and more serene. hope you like the look

        October 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      • 😀 LOL You are the champion working bee, and being fair I can say that I know I don’t do much lately, but thanks anyway..Site looks GREAT including new decoration/s …Later when I get some more time, I will fit some more interesting stuff, now I am flat out busy, working more hours on the job and farm also…. Cheers

        October 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      • work well, enjoy the season 🙂 trying to get insulated here and being gma caretaker for the wee ones. i really need work to pay for heating expenses over winter, it is just too hard to get ahead here with cost of living and food is ridiculous … i want out so bad, this site is a nice retreat 🙂

        thank you, Cheers! xo

        October 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      • Life is a blessing, a battle, and yet, still good to be a life…Enjoy the ride 😉

        October 22, 2014 at 10:44 am

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