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shiitake mushroom on a table

Gourmet and medicinal




Common names

Shiitake, black forest mushroom, oak mushroom, xiang gu ('fragrant mushroom' in Chinese).


Earthy and smoky, strong aroma and umami flavour.


Usually ground and boiled into a tea or tincture, rather than cooked as food.

Size, texture & Color

2-25cm wide - Flat or convex
Scaly, white and hairy at edges
Light to dark brown

Health benefits

Rich in medicinal compounds such as lentinans and beta-glucans.
Used pharmaceutically in China and Japan to lower cholesterol, support the liver, modulate the immune system and lower the blood pressure.

History and culture

Lentinula Edodes known as Shiitake, is probably the first mushroom to be cultivated by humans. It was mentioned in the written records of Longquan county, China, in 1209. It spread to Japan and farmers refined the cultivation technique by placing logs against trees where it was already growing. The name shiitake comes from the Japanese shii, the name of the tree it grew on, and take, for mushroom.

Commercial production of shiitake mushrooms kicked off in the 1930s, and the mushrooms were grown on hardwood logs. Later they were grown on sterilized sawdust, which allowed for faster production. 

Today, it accounts for one-quarter of global mushroom cultivation volumes, second only to the button mushroom.

Shitake mushroom growing on substrate in fungi farm

Growing infos.

Incubation & fruiting temperature

Depends on the strains but usualIy : Incubation at 21-27°C - Fruiting best at 15-21 °C

Preffered substrate

Oak sawdust supplemented with wheat bran.

Innoculation to fruiting time

6 - 8 weeks in incubation, add 1-2 weeks for the fruiting body to reach maturity.

Yield & number of flushes

Good. 2 - 3 flushes a few weeks apart.