Reishi—one of the world’s healthiest mushrooms.
Ganoderma lucidumis the reishi mushroom’s scientific name, although it is more commonly known as the Mushroom of Spirituality, the Herb of Spirituality, and the 10,000-Year Mushroom. It is characterized by a soft, corky, somewhat woody texture and a flat, kidney-shaped cap, which is a dull reddish-brown color.
Used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years, the reishi is the oldest known mushroom to be used medicinally, and the most popular medicinal mushroom in Asia. It is world-renowned as the ultimate herbal supplement, and has been illustrated and mentioned in Eastern Asian art and literature more than in any other culture.
The reishi mushroom can be found growing at the base of maple, elm, oak, willow, and sweetgum trees. It can also be found all over the world, from the Amazon to Asia to North America, although it is more abundant in warmer climates. It is perennial plant, recurring every year.
Natural Cultivation Methods
There are a great number of ways to cultivate the reishi mushroom, but the most popular method (particularly in China and Japan) is to use inoculated logs. This method requires anywhere from six months to two years before a first harvest, but the logs will continue to fruit for 4-5 years.
Inoculating hardwood stumps is a more popular method in humid areas, particularly in the United States. Both log and stump methods produce one to two pounds of mushrooms per year.
Fruiting Cycles and Yield Potentials
Reishi mushrooms can also be cultivated indoors, using sawdust or hardwood chips supplemented with rice bran. Indoor flushes (crops) occur every 90-120 days.
Medicinal and Nutritional Properties
Scientific studies have pointed to the reishi’s ability to boost the human immune system and to other health benefits including:
- Reduces blood pressure
- Regulates blood sugar
- Reduces cholesterol
- Kidney health
- Liver health
- Stress reduction
Cooking with Reishi
Many people enjoy cooking with reishi mushrooms, whether fresh or dried. Reishis have a slightly bitter taste that can be overcome by adding honey to tea or foods. Reishis can also be sautéed, grilled, or added to soups for a heartier broth.