ABOUT HEN OF WOODS MUSHROOMS
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. It is typically found in late summer to early autumn.
Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of trees, particularly oaks. In the United States’ supplement market, as well as in Asian grocery stores, the mushroom is known by its Japanese name maitake (舞茸, “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 call
Hen of the woods mushrooms can be hard to spot in its native habitat. Since its color is somewhere between that of oak bark and that of fallen oak leaves, you need sharp eyes for this treasure hunt. I’ve stood next to a friend who stood next to a hen, and for the life of her, she couldn’t see it! When you do spot one, you’re likely to make a major haul. It’s not unusual for a large hen to weigh many pounds.
HEN OF WOODS MUSHROOM QUALITY
Hen of the woods is a fast-growing, early fall mushroom that appears after a good, soaking rain. I’m guessing it got its common name because someone thought it looked like the ruffled feathers of a hen, although I think that’s a stretch. It has no poisonous look-alikes, which makes it an excellent mushroom for beginning foragers. Superficially it resembles one other mushroom, the black-staining polypore. Fortunately, this is also edible, although not as delicious as maitake, so if you make a mistake you’re in no danger. Btw, you’ll know right away if you’ve picked the black staining polypore…they don’t call it black-staining for nothing. It takes days for the color to wear off your fingers.