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- Maitake Page

Answers by Roy Reehil and David Fischer

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In the picture above: Maitake, latin name Grifola frondosa, Common name: Hen of the woods
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Morels | False Morels | Early Morels | General Mushrooming
Sulphur shelf | Boletes | Bugs | Nutritional breakdown for mushrooms | Stinkhorns

maitake-bill-s.jpg (31090 bytes)Hello,
I used your site to identify this very nice specimen so I thought I would share my photos with you. This was picked yesterday 10/2/06 in S. Central Wisconsin. It's fantastic. By the way I used Google & typed in edible mushrooms & clicked I'm feeling lucky & your site popped up! Enjoy the photos. Bill in Mauston, WI. One of Bill's photo is to the right... more of Bill's photo's here

Thanks for sharing Bill!

Good Morning Roy,

maitake-brad-s.jpg (27489 bytes)I found some interesting mushrooms this morning. I think it is Hen of Woods. Are there any other mushrooms that could be mistaken for it?

I found them in the woods in NH growing beneath an oak tree. OH and how do I harvest it if it is truly a Hen of Woods? Do I leave the roots or pluck up the whole thing?

Pictures of the mushrooms I found Sept 17, 2006

Thank you for your time,

Brad in Orford, NH - (Brad's picture - above right - a grayish variety)


It look certainly looks like you have hen of the woods there in your first email (above picture), but I would never tell you over email "Yes, that's it eat it."
This is from our Wild Food Basics page:
"Before you eat a wild mushroom, be absolutely sure your identification is correct and that the mushroom is a safe edible. The first time you eat any species, take only a small portion and do not drink any liquor. If you experience no side effects, try a slightly larger portion the next time. Don’t eat a large quantity, no matter how often you have eaten a particular mushroom; mushrooms, in general, are indigestible.
Unless otherwise advised, cook all wild mushrooms…Collect only firm, fresh mushrooms for the table. Cut them in half and check for insects and worms." -- Audubon Field Guide

Also see our disclaimer:

There are no deadly look alikes to hen of the woods, but there are similar species, black staining polypore and a few other polypores. If you don't have a feild guide I recommend Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America, A Field-to-kitchen Guide : You'll find it here:

For more on preparing hen of the woods check here:

Hope that helps.
BE SAFE! When in doubt - throw it out!
Roy Reehil

PS - cut the mushroom at the very bottom trimming off the sections covered with dirt.

Hi Roy,

We took a couple of the smaller ones over to a fancy restaurant yesterday.... Both Chefs confirmed them to be Hen of the Woods. I sold 3 lbs of it. I think we have at least another 10 bls in the frig right now. We took a knife and sliced the mushrooms from the root system and put them in paper bags ... they are now on newspaper lined shelves in our spare refrigerator.
How long do they keep?

Thank you for the book referral. I ordered it.
Thanks for your help.



paleSulpher-Shelf-s.jpg (33843 bytes)You can keep it in the fridge for several days but it will begin to dry out. You can also clean chop and freeze in meal size bags for up to 6 mo.s Glad to hear you got a good ID.
Enjoy it - one of my favorite mushrooms.

You'll enjoy the book. Let me know what you think.

Your second email photos are deffinately not hen of the woods. More likely a pale version of Sulpher Shelf  - Laetiporus sulphurious. (one of Brad's pictures at right) And the mushrooms on the tree look like Honey mushrooms - Armillaria mellea.
Again please don't eat any mushrooms from my ID only. Find someone experienced or   wait for your field guide. If they are what I suspect they are they are edible, but again -- don't eat them from my ID. I'll ship your Field Guide today, you can check those mushrooms in the field guide - they're in there.


coverHi Roy,

I got my book yesterday.. WOW it's great! I do have a question... on page 170. What is the name of the yellow/orange straw like mushrooms in the center of the page? We found some that looked like that this week and wondered what they were. The ones we located were pretty small... so we thought they were just an immature version of something.



Glad you're enjoying the book, I thought you would. I think that picture is just a pile a mushrooms from a foray and not necessarily there because they're edible mushrooms. If you're referring to the yellow mushrooms in the middle they are probably clavulinopsis fusiformis - golden spindles but there are many similar species and I would avoid eating them until you are more experienced.
Happy Mushrooming,
- Roy

Important Note: One of the reasons that I tell people not to eat multiple new mushrooms on the same day is that if you try several new mushrooms and then have a reaction to one, you don't know which one it was. This is a rare occurance but has been known to happen. It's better to sample small amounts of a single new species and to save some for identification, just in case. That way you get to see if A) You like it and B) it likes you! That way you can add it to your future menus safely. Remember this rule for anyone that you share your dinner with too. More wild mushroom basics here. -Roy

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