In springtime, mushroom hunters are ravenous for morels (Morchella). Come summer, chanterelles (Cantharellus) and black trumpets (Craterellus) top the list. Fast forward to winter, mushrooms like enoki (Flammulina velutipes) and wood ear (Auricularia auricula) can still be found deep within a snow-blanketed forest.
“But wait, Adam… you skipped a season.” Ah yes… autumn. How could I forget?
Autumn may very well be the most prolific season for mushrooms. Is it any surprise that several nationally recognized fungal forays are held during the weeks of late August through October? Shaggy manes, honey mushrooms, lion’s mane, chicken of the woods… these mushrooms all beckon the mushroom hunter into the autumn woods in search of tasty rewards.
Of course, a “wilderness supermarket” can emerge any time of year… fully stocked with mushrooms… so long as steady rains align with ideal temperatures. It is the autumn season, however, that seems to be among the most reliable.
Which leads me back to the opening statement: Every season has its prized edible mushroom.
You see, there’s a particular fall edible mushroom that may very well be the most popular for its season. Known colloquially as hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa, maitake, sheep’s head… anything goes!), this particular fungus doesn’t quite look like the others. What’s more, it doesn’t even act like other mushrooms when eaten.
Why’s that? Well, it turns out that hen of the woods — one of the most popular edible mushrooms on this planet — is also a powerful medicinal mushroom with important healing qualities.
Interested in learning more about this impressive mushroom?
Check out this brand new video on the maitake mushroom, in which I discuss its identification, medicinal benefits, and more!