Travel Photo of the Day: Maitake Mushrooms

Staff Writer
This ruffled fungus is a wild delicacy

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Wild clusters of the maitake mushroom usually grow at the base of oak trees. These, however, are homegrown with seeded logs.

Maitake mushrooms have several poetic pseudonyms: "hen of the woods," "ram’s head," and "sheep’s head" are a few examples. In Asia, one of the ingredient’s native locations, the flowing layers have also inspired the Japanese to refer to this elegant fungus as the "dancing mushroom."

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Beyond northeast Asia, Grifola frondosa is also found in northeast North America. They grow at the base of oak trees at the begging of autumn and are known for their "woodsy" taste and crispy texture.

They are also known for their potential medicinal properties. Maitakes have a history of being used in Chinese and Japanese "curative herbal medications," and have been considered as a potential treatment for cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, however, "There is no convincing clinical evidence to date in available peer-reviewed medical journals reporting that the maitake mushroom is effective in treating or preventing cancer in humans, although some human research is now underway."

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