Hen of the Woods
Another beautiful, edible, and medicinal mushroom!
Grifola Frondosa on Oak stump in October 2020 Hannibal, MO
This polypore fungus goes by multiple different names: "Sheep's Head" "Maitake" and "Hen of the Woods." Despite what some sources say, according to my research based on studies from the past few years, this mushroom is in fact medicinal! It fruits in a variety of colors and feeds on dead hardwood. You'll typically find these at the base of mature deciduous trees, especially Oak.
So how are these medicinal?
Well according to a recent studies by Cancer Med., and J Cancer Res. Clinical Oncology, these mushrooms have anti-cancerous properties, including polysaccharides that boost the immune system to help fight against cancer. According to another study by Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center,
"Laboratory studies show that Maitake can reduce the growth of cancer in animals [...] Our test tube, animal and human dose determining studies show that Maitake can enhance immune function."
From these findings, further research is being conducted to see how to best utilize Maitake as medicine. For now? Be sure to keep an eye out for these complex mushrooms in the wild to forage them for the table! New to foraging? Learn how to get started here!
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