Maybe you’ve seen pictures of the distinctive, cascading white teeth of the lion’s mane mushroom. Or maybe you’ve heard about its wealth of medicinal uses. Whatever the reason, you’re curious and you want to know more. If you’re ready to learn about where to find lion’s mane mushrooms, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll talk about where these mushrooms grow, the types of wood they prefer to grow on, and how to harvest them.
What You'll Learn Today
Where Does Lion’s Mane Mushroom Grow?
Lion’s mane mushrooms are native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. They can be found growing throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Lion’s manes usually grow in late summer and fall, when the weather is warm and humid. They require a temperate climate to be able to thrive.
Lion’s mane mushrooms grow on trees and are often found in wounds that have not healed properly, such as places where branches have broken off or the bark has been damaged. These mushrooms frequently grow on dead and decaying trees but may also be found on live trees.
Lion’s manes are typically found in hardwood forests and woodlands, but as long as the climate is right, they can grow anywhere there is a hardwood tree to serve as the host.
Unlike other types of mushrooms, they are often found growing high up on trees, sometimes more than 40 feet above ground. They may also grow closer to the base of the tree as well as on fallen logs.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, lion’s manes may grow up to a foot in diameter with each of the hanging spines, or teeth, growing up to two inches long.
What Types of Wood Do Lion’s Mane Mushrooms Grow On?
Lion’s mane mushrooms only grow on hardwood trees. Again, they prefer decaying hardwoods, but they may grow on any hardwood tree that is weak enough to allow the fungus to proliferate.
The lion’s mane mushroom is not terribly picky about the specific species of hardwood it prefers to grow on. Some of its favorite tree species include oak, maple, birch, walnut, sycamore, and beech.
Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom Rare?
Lion’s manes are not found in the wild very often, so some foragers may consider them to be rare. However, they are not one of the rarest mushrooms you can find.
One reason they may seem rare is their tendency to grow above your head. Sometimes you simply don’t see them because you’re looking down at the ground rather than up in the trees.
When foraging for lion’s mane mushrooms, remember that they tend to grow higher up on trees rather than near the base, so you may actually have to look up to find them.
Even if you can’t find any lion’s manes in the wild, the good news is that they can be easily cultivated at home. Check out the video below to learn how to grow them.
How Do You Pick a Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
There really aren’t any special tricks for harvesting lion’s manes; the primary thing you need to keep in mind is that they are delicate and can be easily damaged if you aren’t careful.
A few other things to think about:
- Make sure you identify the mushroom correctly. The lion’s mane mushroom is pretty distinctive looking, but it can look similar to other types of mushrooms especially when it is young.
To avoid misidentification, only harvest mature lion’s mane mushrooms with teeth that are at least half an inch long.
- Once you’ve found a lion’s mane, try to locate its base without damaging the teeth. Move the teeth aside carefully, then use a knife to cut along the base, gently separating it from the wood it’s growing on.
The mushroom should be fairly easy to cut, but you’ll want to make sure you use a sharp, serrated knife so as not to tear the soft flesh. The base is relatively thick compared with other types of mushrooms, and you want a nice, clean cut all the way through.
- When the mushroom is fully separated from the wood, place it gently in a basket, base side down. If you are harvesting other mushrooms, set them gently in the basket beside the lion’s mane, making sure not to crowd it or pile other mushrooms on top.
The key is to avoid bumping, bruising, or otherwise damaging the mushrooms as you transport them from the woods to your kitchen.
Make sure they do not roll or bounce around in the basket, and be careful every time you need to handle the mushrooms. Only hold them from the base if possible.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are found in temperate regions throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are often found growing in dead or decaying trees as well as wounded areas of live trees.
Even if you aren’t able to find them growing in the wild, it is possible to grow lion’s mane mushrooms at home. There are various kits you can buy that make growing these mushrooms easy. Here is our guide on how to store them properly.