They are a fungus that grows on trees and tree stumps, preferring deciduous trees. They don’t have caps like other mushrooms: instead, they look like petals growing off a stalk in clusters. Some people think they look more like a chicken who has her tail feathers all ruffled, hence one of the many names for this mushroom. The mushroom can easily grow two feet across (60cm) and a foot tall (30cm), and weigh 25 pounds (11 kg.) It has pores instead of gills. The colour is a streaky, mottled brown.
These are both cultivated and gathered from the wild.
Hen-of-The-Woods Mushrooms have a savoury taste and an aroma that is prized in Japan. When young, they will be tender, but when mature they will be woody and tough.
You can buy them fresh or dried.
You can pretty much disregard all of the usual natural health hype around this mushroom.
Store in fridge for up to 7 to 10 days after harvesting.
The Japanese name, “maitake”, means “dancing mushroom”.