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Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Key Facts

Contrary to what the name would suggest, lion’s mane mushrooms are not actually found growing in lion’s manes. Okay, you probably could have guessed that, but you may still be wondering, where do these mushrooms grow? What do they look like? Are they edible? Keep reading to learn more about these and other lion’s mane mushroom key facts. 

Quick Facts About Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Scientific Name:Hericium Erinaceus 
Common Names:Lion’s mane, bearded tooth, monkey head, hedgehog, pom pom, yamabushitake
Physical Description:White, bulbous mushroom with shaggy, icicle-like teeth, or spines. Each mushroom may be from a few inches up to a foot in diameter. Mushrooms grow from deciduous hardwood trees, especially those that are dead or decaying.
Distribution:Widely distributed throughout temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia.
Habitat:Forests, wooded areas, and any region with a plentiful supply of deciduous hardwood trees.
Edible?Yes
Flavor:Bland, earthy, and mildly crab-like; dehydrated and powdered mushroom tastes bitter like dark chocolate.
Aroma:Bland and indistinct; may have mild seafood undertones, but rarely has any noticeable aroma.
Uses:Cooked and eaten as a side dish
– Added to soups, stews, and other recipes
– Dried, powdered and taken as a nutritional supplement
Health Benefits:– Anti-inflammatory–may help reduce chronic inflammation and treat various inflammatory diseases
– Nootropic–may help improve mental focus and performance as well as treat a variety of cognitive disorders
– Tissue repair–may relieve pain, prevent infection, and treat damage to a number of body tissues including skin, nerves, and digestive components.

What Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?

Lion’s mane mushrooms are distinctive-looking mushrooms that grow from the wood of dead and decaying hardwood trees. They are usually large, white to yellowish depending on age, and are often found growing many feet above the ground on scarred tree trunks and branches.

Lion’s mane mushrooms, as the name suggests, have a shaggy appearance similar to a lion’s mane. Each of the shaggy spines can grow anywhere from half an inch to two inches long.

These mushrooms have a soft, spongy texture. They are easy to cut and tear, and they have a similar texture as white bread.

Are Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Edible?

According to this study from the National Library of Medicine, lion’s mane mushrooms are not only edible but also medicinal. They have a mild, vaguely seafood-like flavor that many mushroom lovers enjoy.

You can boil, saute, or fry them, dehydrate and powder them, or store them in the freezer for later use. You can enjoy them on their own or added into a variety of savory recipes.

Those who don’t care for the flavor can still reap some impressive health benefits by taking lion’s mane supplements. Lion’s mane is good for treating and preventing many cognitive disorders, reducing inflammation in the body, and supporting and repairing various bodily tissues.

Where Can You Get Lion’s Mane Mushrooms?

You may be able to find lion’s manes growing naturally in the wild. They can be challenging to find, as you often have to look up into trees and not just down at the ground.

If you find one lion’s mane though, there’s a good chance you’ll find others growing nearby.

If you don’t have any lion’s manes growing in your area, or if you don’t want to go to the trouble of hunting for them, you can grow them yourself at home. There are a number of different lion’s mane growing kits available, as shown in the following video.

Sometimes you can also find fresh or dried lion’s manes at a local farmer’s market or specialty shop. Lion’s mane powders and extracts are a common sight at many whole foods stores throughout the U.S.

Conclusion

Lion’s mane is a unique looking mushroom with lots of great uses. Whether you love the taste or want to use it medicinally, you can find them growing in the wild, grow them at home using a kit, or find them at a local shop or farmer’s market.

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