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Hericium americanum

Hericium americanum, commonly known as the Lion’s mane or Bear’s head mushroom is an edible mushroom (Grace, 2010: 1). This fungus is part of the Hericiaceae family (O’Reilley & Parker, 2015).  And belongs to the toothed mushroom group because of the cascading spines it forms (Ko, Han Gyu et al., 2005: 1439). H. americanum is a perennial that lives as a saprobe in dead trees, and a parasite on live trees (O’Reilley & Parker, 2015).

H. americanum is found in north eastern United States and in parts of eastern Canada (Grace, 2010: 1). It is rare in both regions and has not yet been introduced into any location (O’Reilley & Parker, 2015). H. americanum grows best in the logs of decaying trees, preferably oak trees, in deciduous forests (Ko, Han Gyu et al., 2005: 1440).

H. americanum is white and the fruiting body turns a yellow-brown color at the tips of the spines (O’Reilley & Parker, 2015). The fruiting body originates from the central branching base (Grace, 2010: 4) and theses spines are 1- 5 cm in length (O’Reilley & Parker, 2015). Fruiting occurs in temperatures of 25- 30° C, and can take 33- 40 days (Ko, Han Gyu et al., 2005: 1442).

H. americanum is is grown in large scale at indoor production farms and agroforestry systems (Grace, 2010: 20). In a 2005 study done on artificial cultivation of mycelial growth in different species of the genus Hericium, H. americanum grew best at 30° C and growth rates decreased at 35°C (Ko, Han Gyu et al., 2005: 1442).  Another study from 2010 was conducted by Jeanne Grace and focused specifically on commercial production methods of H. americanum. All H. americanum isolates used in the study showed an increased growth from 15° C to 25° C, and most showed a decrease in growth when temperature was increased to 30° C, however, some remained unaffected (Grace, 2010: 37). Across the entire temperature range the commercial isolate, used as a comparison value, grew less when compared to the wild isolates (Grace, 2010: 41). When looking at total yield weight, harvestable yields and FIB weights combined, there was no difference between commercial and wild isolates; therefore if FIB issues could be resolved, wild isolates could properly form harvestable yields (Grace, 2010: 106). FIB weights refer to the malformed mushrooms that develop inside the bag (Grace, 2010: 107). The wild isolates produced similar quality and yields as commercial isolates, which is a good outcome for the small sample that was used (Grace, 2010: 116). According to this study the best option for commercial production of H. americanum is in outdoor production, however, further studies of new wild isolates could produce higher yields of higher quality mushrooms (Grace, 2010: 117).   


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© Megan Collins, editor Nisse Goldberg

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