Nov 142012

Hen of the woods

Like the sulphur shelf mushroom, G. frondosa is a perennial fungus that often grows in the same place for a number of years in succession. It occurs most prolifically in the northeastern regions of the United States, but has been found as far west as Idaho.

G. frondosa grows from an underground tuber-like structure known as asclerotium, about the size of a potato. The fruiting body, occurring as large as 100 cm, is a cluster consisting of multiple grayish-brown caps which are often curled or spoon-shaped, with wavy margins and 2–7 cm broad. The undersurface of each cap bears approximately one to three pores per millimeter, with the tubes rarely deeper than 3 mm. The milky-white stipe(stalk) has a branchy structure and becomes tough as the mushroom matures.

In Japan, the Maitake can grow to more than 50 pounds (20 kilograms), earning this giant mushroom the title “King of Mushrooms”. Maitake is one of the major culinary mushrooms used in Japan, the others being shiitake,shimeji and enoki. They are used in a wide variety of dishes, often being a key ingredient in nabemono or cooked in foil with butter.

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-woodsram’s head and sheep’s head. In the United States’ supplement market, as well as inAsian 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 fungusthat 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 herbologyas a medicinal mushroom, an aid to balance out altered body systems to a normal level. Due to the taste and texture of the mushroom, it is widely eaten in Japan, although the mushroom has been alleged to cause allergic reactions in rare cases.

Maitake research

In 2009, a phase I/II human trial, conducted by Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, showed Maitake could stimulate the immune systems of breast cancer patients.[2] Small experiments with human cancer patients, have shown Maitake can stimulate immune system cells, like NK cells.[3][4] In vitro research has also shown Maitake can stimulate immune system cells.[5] An in vivo experiment showed that Maitake could stimulate both the innate immune system andadaptive immune system.[6]

In vitro research has shown Maitake can induce apoptosis in cancer cell lines (human prostatic cancer cells, Hep 3B cells, SGC-7901 cells, murine skin carcinoma cells)[7][8][9][10] as well as inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells (canine cancer cells, bladder cancer cells).[11][12][13] Small studies with human cancer patients, revealed a portion of the Maitake mushroom, known as the “Maitake D-fraction”, possess anti-cancer activity.[14][15] In vitro research demonstrated the mushroom has potential anti-metastatic properties.[16] In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an Investigational New Drug Application for a portion of the mushroom.[17]

Research has shown Maitake has a hypoglycemic effect, and may be beneficial for the management ofdiabetes.[18][19][20][21][22][23] The reason Maitake lowers blood sugar is due to the fact the mushroom naturally contains analpha glucosidase inhibitor.[24]

Maitake contains antioxidants and may partially inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase.[25] An experiment showed that an extract of Maitake inhibited angiogenesis via inhibition of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).[26]

Lys-N is a unique protease found in Maitake.[27] Lys-N is used for proteomics experiments due to its protein cleavage specificity.[28]

Large fruiting of maitake in Liberty, South Carolina

Tribe artificially increases wishi population

Grifola Frondosa

Mark Dunham, a Cherokee Nation Natural Resources specialist, drills a hole in the base of a tree to place a plug filled with grifola frondosa spores to grow wishi mushrooms while Natural Resources Acting Director Pat Gwin marks the tree’s location using a GPS device. (Photo by Will Chavez)

By Will Chavez Staff Writer KANSAS, Okla. – In a wooded area on Cherokee Nation trust land, two men from the tribe’s Natural Resources department give Mother Nature some help with growing wishi (or wissy) mushrooms. The maitake mushroom, also known as grifola frondosa, is considered a delicacy by many Cherokee people who find them growing near the base of hardwood trees. Also known as the “Hen of the Woods,” the large mushrooms have brown caps and white undersides and usually grow in clusters at the base of red oak trees in northeastern Oklahoma. Natural Resources Acting Director Pat Gwin and Natural Resources specialist Mark Dunham spent time in September drilling small holes at the base of trees, where roots connect, and placing plugs containing grifola frondosa in the hole before sealing them with wax. Gwin said wishi is a fungus that grows in the roots of trees. In northeastern Oklahoma, it mainly grows in red oak trees. As an experiment, Gwin and Dunham placed capsules in various trees, including chinquapin oak, green ash, post oak, hickory, white hickory, black walnut, sugar maple, elm and ash.

Market Snapshot

Large scale maitake growing facility

More Reading

  1. Shroomery – Grifola frondosa . as some have seen it in the majority of the many strains of G. frondosa.
  2. Grifola frondosa) as a Food Until very recently, the mushroom produced by Grifola frondosa was in the  of Hughes Mushroom, is currently investigating growing Grifola frondosa on his 
  3. Solid-state cultivation of Grifola frondosa (Dicks: Fr) S.F. Gray … by M Svagelj - 2008 - Cited by 4 - Related articles N Biotechnol. 2008 Oct-Dec;25(2-3):150-6. Epub 2008 Aug 20. Solid-state cultivation ofGrifola frondosa (Dicks: Fr) S.F. Gray biomass and immunostimulatory … 
  4. Maitake Mushroom, Hen of the Woods Plug Spawn, Grifola frondosa … Grow Your Own Mushrooms · Mushroom Spawn; Maitake Mushroom, Hen of the Woods Plug Spawn, Grifola frondosa, 100 pack 
  5. How to Grow Maitake | eHow.comHow to Grow Maitake. Maitake mushrooms, Grifola Frondosa, are known more commonly as Hen of the Woods or Sheep’s or Ram’s Head. Native to the 
  6. Cultivation methods of maitake (Grifola frondosaCULTIVATION METHODS OF MAITAKE. (Grifola frondosa). YOSHIKAZU MAYUZUMI1 and TAKASHI MIZUNO2. 1Myogi Mushroom development Farm.
  7. Improving Grifola Frondosa for High Yields and Medicinal Values …This project will develop commercial strains of Grifola frondosa (Maitake) from local genetic sources. Cultivation methods will be tested and selected commercial … 
  8. Cultivation of the Edible and Medicinal Mushroom Grifola frondosa … Cultivation of the Edible and Medicinal Mushroom Grifola frondosa (Dicks.:Fr.) S. F. Gray (Maitake)—Relevance of Literature to Production in Australia (Review) 
  9. Maitake - Grifola frondosa This Grifola frondosa is not a mere extract of Grifola frondosa. The tablets contain both mycelium and 



Principal organizer and webmaster for the Coop,I've got significant professional background in civil, mechanical and architectural design.Former founding chair of the Kauai chapter of Habitat for Humanity, designer and construction consultant for the Riverfront Amphitheater in St.Helens, Or.
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