Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) has been grown commercially in Japan for centuries and is still one of that country’s major agricultural exports. But until 1972, you couldn’t cultivate the mushroom in this country; live shiitake culture was banned in the United States.
Shitake is native to a few countries in east Asia, most commonly in Japan and China. Temperature strongly affects two different aspects of this mushroom’s life: mycelia growth and the fruiting body growth. The name shiitake is composed of shii, for the Japanese tree chinquapin (Castanopsis cuspidate), and take, meaning mushroom.
One source claimed shiitake grows wild on stumps and tree trunks. In the wild, shiitake is common in the Far East, China, Japan and other countries of Southeast Asia. The first mushrooms appear in the spring and continue to grow until the fall.
This begs the question “How are shiitake mushrooms grown in Japan?”
The Japanese cultivated the mushroom by cutting shii trees with axes and placing the logs by trees that were already growing shiitake or contained shiitake spores. Before 1982, the Japan Islands’ variety of these mushrooms could only be grown in traditional locations using ancient methods.
What is shiitake mushrooms?
The name shiitake is composed of shii, for the Japanese tree chinquapin (Castanopsis cuspidate), and take, meaning mushroom. The mushroom is found on fallen trees during the spring and autumn. Even though it grows in forests, globally, this is most recognized as a cultivated mushroom; in fact, it was first cultivated centuries ago in Japan.
Lentinus shiitake (J. Schröt.) Singer (1936) The mushroom’s Japanese name shiitake ( 椎茸) is composed of shii (椎, Castanopsis), for the tree Castanopsis cuspidata that provides the dead logs on which it is typically cultivated, and take (茸, “mushroom”). The specific epithet edodes is the Latin word for “edible”.
One source argued that shiitake mushrooms, Lentinula edodes, have been grown in Japan for over 2,000 years. Shiitake are low in cholesterol, high in B vitamins, and have an exquisite taste. Their popularity as a valuable gourmet mushroom, as well as their reputation for having health benefits, is growing in this country as well.
Shiitakes do best on oak, but maple, beech, and ironwood will all work as well. If you’re using logs to grow your shiitake mushrooms, then the fresher they are, the better.
How long does it take for shiitake mushrooms to grow?
Shiitake mushrooms may be ready for harvest in 7 to 10 days from shocking, longer if cool weather. Most yield is in the second and third years, with one quarter to one half pound per log typical.
Yet another question we ran across in our research was “What trees do shitake mushrooms grow on?”.
Shitake grow in groups on the decaying wood of deciduous trees, particularly chinquapin, chestnut, oak, maple, beech, sweetgum, poplar, hornbeam, ironwood, and mulberry. Its natural distribution includes warm and moist climates in southeast Asia.
How long do shiitake mushrooms last on logs?
Plus they’re delicious! Shiitake mushrooms produce 3 to 5 flushes of fresh mushrooms on average when grown on sawdust or grain. If you grow them on logs, they can provide you with fresh mushrooms every 5 weeks for 4 to 6 years!