Hen Of The Woods Mushroom: Key Facts

Do you know where hen of the woods mushrooms get their name? Did you know this delicious edible mushroom also has some impressive health benefits? Read on to learn more about these and other hen of the woods mushroom key facts.

Quick Facts About Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

Scientific Name:Grifola Frondosa
Common Names:Hen of the woods, maitake, sheep’s head, dancing mushroom, ram’s head, signorina mushroom
Physical Description:Large, feathery mushroom cluster growing from a single base. It grows from the base of hardwood trees, especially oak. Mushrooms are gray to brown in color with flat, ruffly caps. Stems have a structure similar to broccoli or cauliflower. The entire cluster has an appearance similar to a fluffy hen.
Distribution:Found throughout parts of North America, Europe, and Asia
Habitat:Primarily northern temperate forests but may also be found in a variety of woodland areas, near bodies of water, and in urban areas.
Flavor:Mild, earthy, peppery.
Aroma:Musty, earthy, mushroomy.
Uses:Cooked fresh and eaten on their own or added to recipes.
– Dried, frozen, pickled, and canned for later use.
– Dried, powdered, and added to supplements.
Health Benefits:– Boosts immune system
– Regulates blood sugar
– Controls cholesterol levels
– Fights cancer

What are Hen of the Woods Mushrooms?

Hen of the woods mushrooms are edible mushroom clusters known by many different names, including maitake and sheep’s head. Their most common name, hen of the woods, comes from their appearance, which many describe as looking like a fluffy hen.

Hen of the woods clusters grow from a single base, and they can be anywhere from 4 to 36 inches wide, up to a couple feet tall, and can weigh as much as 20 to 50 pounds. The mushroom caps have a feathery, ruffly appearance and are typically brown to gray in color.

These mushrooms grow from the base of hardwood trees, especially oaks. Sometimes they grow on dead and decaying trees, while other times they grow from living trees and slowly begin to kill them. There are several look-likes, so you need to be careful when identifying them.

Hen of the woods mushrooms can be cultivated in a controlled environment. Their natural season is in the fall, but those that are cultivated indoors can be grown and enjoyed year-round.

What are Hen of the Woods Mushroom Health Benefits?

Hen of the woods mushrooms are prized for their flavor, but they also have a number of purported health benefits according to WebMD. These benefits include:

  • Immune function: Hen of the woods mushrooms are high in antioxidants that support a healthy immune system.
  • Blood sugar: These mushrooms can aid in insulin absorption, which in turn helps to control blood sugar levels.
  • Cholesterol: Hen of the woods mushrooms can reduce cholesterol levels, leading to improved cardiovascular health.
  • Cancer: This mushroom can destroy several different types of cancer cells and is a good addition to many cancer treatment regimes.


Hen of the woods mushrooms are prized edibles with many health benefits as well. They can be found growing from the base of hardwood trees in temperate forests throughout the northern hemisphere.

Read also about other forest mushrooms – here are our guides about Jack O’Lantern, Lion’s Mane, Lobsters.

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