Oyster Mushroom: Key Facts

Did you know that oyster mushrooms are both edible and medicinal? Or that they can reduce the amounts of mercury and petroleum in the environment? Keep reading to learn more about these and other oyster mushroom key facts!

Quick Facts About Oyster Mushrooms

Scientific Name:Pleurotus ostreatus
Type of Organism:Fungus: Mushroom
Number of Subspecies:At least 12
Physical Description:Fan-shaped mushrooms that typically grow in clusters from dead and decaying hardwood. Can be found growing on trees, roots, and forest debris. The caps start out small and convex but flatten and become larger as they age. The caps are usually brown, tan, or gray in color, while the gills and stems are white. The stems are usually stubby and non-distinct, and the well-defined gills run all the way down the stem.
Distribution:Found in the wild and cultivated throughout the world.
Habitat:Found in the wild in temperate and tropical forests; mostly deciduous hardwood forests, though some mixed forests as well.
Growing Season:Primarily late summer through late fall; can also be found during mild winters and springs.
Other Uses:Sometimes used for mycorestoration: absorbing toxins such as heavy metals and petroleum products from the environment.

What Are Oyster Mushrooms?

Oyster mushrooms are a highly popular edible mushroom. They can be found growing in forests throughout the world, and they are also very easy to cultivate.

Named for their fan- or oyster-shaped caps, these mushrooms can come in a range of colors and variations. Generally speaking, they are tan to gray, grow in clusters, and have flat caps that can grow from 2 to 10 inches in diameter.

Oyster mushrooms have a mild, earthy taste which some suggest is slightly sweet, like anise or licorice. They can be used in a variety of recipes, cooked and eaten on their own, and dried, canned, or frozen for later use. Check out this guide on how to clean them before the use.

Oyster mushrooms do an excellent job of absorbing toxins from their environment. They are so effective that, in some areas, they are being used to clean up areas polluted by mercury, petroleum, and other hazardous materials.

It’s worth noting that, due to this tendency to absorb toxins, you should only harvest wild oysters from clean, unpolluted areas.

Oyster mushrooms also have some pretty impressive health benefits, which we’ll take a closer look at below.

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Oyster Mushrooms?

  • Antioxidant properties: Oyster mushrooms are chock-full of antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress in the body. This, in turn, lowers inflammation, which is responsible for many common diseases.
  • Immune support: These mushrooms are thought to have some immune-balancing properties. Extracts from oyster mushrooms have been shown to help patients recover from illness more quickly, and they also have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
  • Heart health: Oyster mushrooms are well-known for their ability to reduce bad cholesterol in the body. They also seem to be beneficial at reducing blood pressure, insulin, and triglycerides.
  • Blood sugar regulation: Various studies have shown that oyster mushrooms can lower blood sugar both after eating and while fasting. 
  • Anti-cancer properties: Human studies are lacking, but several animal and in vitro studies suggest that oyster mushrooms can reduce tumor size and discourage cancer activity. Though they should not be relied upon in cancer treatment, they may supplement other treatments and be eaten regularly in an effort to prevent cancer.

Check out this video to learn more about the health benefits of oyster mushrooms:


Oyster mushrooms are popular throughout the world as edible mushrooms. They can also be used medicinally, and they even appear to be effective at absorbing and destroying various types of pollution in their environment.

Read also about other forest mushrooms – here are our guides about Wood EarsChanterelles, Death Caps.

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