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The shiitake or shii-take (Lentinula edodes, syn. Lentinus edodes; Chinese 冬菇, pinyin dōnggū / 香菇, xiānggū / 花菇, huāgū, obsolete 椎茸, zhuīróng, Japanese 椎茸? /i shiꜜitake) is a species of fungus in the family Omphalotaceae. Classically, it was classified among the larkspurge relatives (Tricholomataceae) or the stem porlings (Polyporales). The Japanese name shiitake means mushroom (take – 茸)[6] that grows on the pasania tree (shii – 椎)[7]; thus, the mushroom is also called pasania mushroom in German. In China, the mushroom is also widely used and is called tung koo there.

It is considered one of the most effective medicinal mushrooms in traditional Chinese medicine. Pharmacologically active ingredients have been proven by scientific studies.

All strains of shiitake can produce both koshin and donko mushrooms, depending on fruiting conditions (light, moisture, etc.), but some strains have a stronger ‘koshin’ tendency and others a stronger ‘donko’ tendency.

Koshin types are slow to incubate but fruit more quickly, fruiting bodies remain lighter in color and weight, and tend to be thin-fleshed with longer stems.

Donko types incubate faster but fruit later. Fruiting bodies are thick, dark and heavy and often have a thicker, short stalk.

One should not make the mistake of thinking that thicker Donko types automatically taste better. In Japan, many consumers demand the rather fine, more aromatic koshin type.

Shiitake mushroom production reached 1,322,000 metric tons in 1997 which accounts for over 25% of the world’s edible mushrooms. that’s a lot of edible fungus!

-Japan produces over 80% of the world’s Shiitake mushrooms.

-Shiitakes can be pickled.

-The best way to store the Shiitake is to place it in a wooden box and put it in a dark, cold, and dry place.

Even today, the shiitake or Dōnggū has maintained its high value in nutrition in Japan and China. High quality dried shiitake mushrooms are still considered a delicacy and still fetch high prices in East Asian countries – China, South Korea, Japan. Therefore, when visiting family, the dried mushroom as a host gift or travel souvenir continues to be popular among connoisseurs – especially traditional or elderly people.

Originally, it was recommended that fresh mushrooms be cooked for twenty minutes if possible, otherwise allergic skin reactions (shiitake dermatitis) could occur in rare cases. It is now believed that lentinan (presumably the active ingredient responsible for the skin reactions) is heat resistant and shiitake dermatitis can also occur after consumption of cooked and fried mushrooms. Despite the very frequent use of shiitake as an edible mushroom worldwide, however, only relatively few cases of shiitake dermatitis have been reported to date, particularly in Germany.

Stimulation of the immune system, +/- cancer and sarcomas (stomach and uterine cancer = controversial), infections, rickets, lower cholesterol, good for the stomach, spleen, lungs, heart, lower blood pressure, expectorant, loss of appetite and weakness, reduces frequent urination, favors the prostate.
Lentinan, a water-soluble polysaccharide (ß-1,3-glucan with ß-1,6 and ß-1,3-glucopyranoside branches) obtained from fungi is approved as a cancer drug in Japan. The activity mode appears to be the activation of killer and helper “T” cells.
Obviously, in addition to the well-known lentinan, numerous anti-cancer drugs are inside Shiitake.

Lentinula edodes contain all 8 essential amino acids in a higher percentage than in milk, eggs, meat, or soy beans. Many vegetarians consume the Shiitake in place of meat, because it is a good source of protein. Shiitake mushrooms have long been noted for their good benefits in traditional Chinese medicine. They were used to cure colds and increase energy. Recently though, studies have proven for the mushrooms to really be as beneficial as they were long perceived to be. They have been shown to have anti-tumor, antibacterial, anti-cholesterol, antiviral, and immune regulating properties. In medicine, it has been used with HIV positive patients. Shiitakes contain a polysaccharide called lentinan which has been shown to help increase T-cell counts and lower lymphocyte counts. The Shiitake has a fairly good record and has only been shown to cause diarrhea and abdominal bloating.

The main flavor compounds, which are also responsible for the rettich-like odor, have been identified as cyclic sulfur compounds: Lenthionine; 1, 2, 4, 5,- and 1, 2, 3, 5-tetrathiane, trithiolane, and the amino acid eritadenine.

The shiitake contains some, pharmacologically interesting active substances, such as: EP3, a glycoprotein that is thought to have immunostimulatory effects. Eritadenine [4-(9-adenyl)-D-erythro-2,3-dihydroxybutyric acid], an amino acid that lowers cholesterol. Shiitake contains 400-700 mg of it per kg dry weight. LEM, a glycoprotein that is believed to have immunostimulatory and antitumor effects. Lentinan, a polysaccharide that is thought to have immunostimulatory and antiviral effects. However, lentinan is suspected of causing shiitake dermatitis. KS-2, a polysaccharide that is thought to have anti-tumor effects against Sarcoma-180 cell lines and Ehrlich carcinoma.

Shiitake also contains vitamins C, B1, B2, B12, D and niacin. Vitamin D concentration is comparatively high at 22-110 µg per 100 g dry weight and can be further increased by sun or UV radiation.

A study of 52 adults suggested that daily consumption of shiitake may have an immune-boosting effect.

In Japan and China, shiitake is found as a medicinal food known as jap. yakuzen – 薬膳, chin. Yàoshàn – 藥膳 / 药膳, like other mushrooms and vegetables a specific use for inflammation, tumors, stomach disorders, headache, dizziness, cirrhosis of the liver and arteriosclerosis. More frequent meals with shiitake are said to alleviate the aforementioned ailments. For this purpose, the mushrooms are boiled, fried or steamed. This is accompanied by boiled rice, sushi or vegetables. The whole thing is seasoned with miso, soy sauce or tomato sauce.

© Mike Potts

1. Growing

Growing Procedure

Lentinula edodes prefers substrates of pure hardwood, mainly oak and beech. Substrates containing straw do not work reasonably.

Best results on highly enriched sterile substrate, 3 to 5 harvest waves are possible.

This cultivar tends to make large single fruiting bodies. Expressly suitable for planting trunk crops for outdoor planting, as frost resistant. Stem crops, unlike other mushrooms, do not need to be buried, so you can stack the logs in formations, but you need to water them regularly if it gets too dry in the summer months.

A certain amount of coarse structure in the substrate facilitates water uptake and retention in substrate crops, important for the later necessary later to initiate further waves of harvesting. Shiitake needs a lot of fresh air for fruiting.

Prior to first fruiting, careful tapping/slapping of the culture is beneficial. Lentinula edodes also benefit from fruiting shock due to drastically lowered night temperatures.

It is now known that electric shocks are also helpful in triggering spontaneous mass fruiting. In Japan, “flashing” of the cultures is already widespread.




Temp °C
21-27 10-16 (16-21) 16-18 (21-27)
Relative Humidity %
95-100 95-100 60-80
Duration d
35-70 5-7 5-7
CO2 ppm
>10000 <1000 <1000
FAE per h
0-1 4-7 4-7
Light lux
50-100 500-2000

@ 370-420nm

@ 370-420nm

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Agar Culture Media: MEA, PDYA, MYA, and OMYA
Cropping Cycle: 2-4 weeks for 8-12 (16) weeks
Containers for fruiting: Polypropylene, high-density, thermotolerant polyethylene bags, advantage of bag culture: contaminants can be isolated, limiting cross-contamination
Biological efficiencies: 100–200%
Substrates: Hardwoods such as oak, ironwood, sweetgum, beech, poplar, poplar and alder, the use of sawdust, shavings, rice or rye bran and buffered with gypsum is ideal for high-yield indoor production, optimal PH range for fruit formation 4,2 and 4,6.
6 parts pine, 3 parts hardwood, 1 part grain

Natural Habitat

Lentinula edodes is native to various countries in east Asia. Most commonly they are found in Japan and China. They grow best in cool, dry to moist (but not wet), and dark conditions. Temperature strongly affects two different aspects of the mushroom’s life, mycelia growth and the fruiting body growth. Mycelia growth is strongest between 41º and 90º F (5-32º C), while the fruiting body grows best in temperatures between 50º and 68º F (10-20º C). The fruiting body also requires more humidity and light than the mycelia does.

In the forests of China and Japan it grows wild, but the mushrooms available on the market there also all come from farms. For this purpose, trees are traditionally cut down in the growth phase when the nutrients under the bark taste sweet. The fresh cut surfaces of the trees felled in this way form an ideal food base for the spores of the shiitake mushrooms. It does not occur in the wild in Europe and North America, but is increasingly cultivated here as well.

grows naturally on dead or dying deciduous trees and Asian oaks and beeches

Growing Characteristics

Like all fungi, the Shiitake mushroom plays and important role in the decomposition of its environment. As a member of the Basidiomycota phylum, Lentinula edodes is capable of synthesizing lignin peroxidase. Lignin peroxidase is an enzyme in plants found in their secondary walls, which means they are able to digest wood. Not so oddly enough, Lentinula edodes is usually found growing on trees or fallen logs. Lentinula has been shown to be susceptible to a mold called Sporodinia grandis. Since Lentinula edodes is cultivated so frequently without complete crop failure, it should be noted that the Shiitake is not as susceptible to this mold compared to other species of Lentinula.

Lentinula edodes have a saprophytic relationship with the trees they grow on. In order to be considered a saprophyte, the organism must receive nutrients from dead organic material. Decomposition is a very important interaction between the Shiitake and its environment, because it helps to get rid of the bulk of the material from dead trees.

The mycelium is initially white, soon becoming chocolate brown with maturity, leaving a white-pulped wood
many mycologists classify this species as white rot based on the appearance of the wood after colonization.
it is a true saprophyte that only exploits necrotic tissue

2. Identification


-5–25 cm Ø
-hemispherical, expanding to convex and finally flat when at maturity
-cap edge even to irregular, first rolled up, then curved, flattening with increasing ripeness and often wavy with increasing age
-initially dark brown to almost black, turning lighter brown with age or when drying


-5–6.5 (7) × 3–3.5 µm
-ovoid to oblong ellipsoid
-basidia four-spored


-brownish, fibrous on a light background
-woolly ring zone

Danger of confusion

Pholiota populnea, Panus conchatus


-white, darker yellow-brown blue spots if damaged
-even at first, becoming serrated or irregular with age
-freely to finely grown
-forked, easily detachable, with intermediate lamella


-fungal mycelium initially white, as it ages or in response to damage, the mycelium turns dark brown
-longitudinally linear and cottony-aerial in age
-rarely, if ever truly rhizomorphic
-hyphal system monomitic, pleurocystidia absent
-some strains develop hyphal aggregates—soft, cottony ball-like structures—that may or may not develop into primordia
-clamp connections and cheilocystidia present


© Ron Pastorino

3. Consuming


Worldwide after Lentinula edodes the most sought after mushroom in the world! The methods of forcing shiitake onto logs have been known since ancient times. Even today, a certain part of the Japanese demand is traditionally grown on oak trunks. Mushrooms produced this way are said to taste better than those produced on enriched sawdust.

Good texture, a delicate garlic aroma and universal usability make the type popular with cooks. Shiitake readily absorbs moisture but loses little water during preparation. Do not fry the mushroom too long or it may become hard. Shiitake, like few mushrooms, benefit from drying and rehydrating later. Many gourmets swear that this adds flavor to the mushroom.

It is not advisable to eat it raw, as shiitake contains hemagglutinating (blood-clumping) lectins, but these are destroyed when cooked.

Shiitake possess the taste quality umami. Modern science has now recognized umami as the fifth taste quality perceivable via the tongue, alongside sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Umami is created by the presence of glutamate and activates special taste receptors on the tongue. It is partly responsible for the taste of protein-rich foods such as meat, legumes and some mushrooms.


-grain spawn has a smell similar to fresh Shiitake, sometimes slightly astringent and musty
-sawdust spawn smells sweeter and fresher


mushroom like, leek like


white, flesh bruises brow, stem tough

Nutritional content per 100g

Water 88.6g
Energy (Atwater General Factors) 44kcal
Energy (Atwater Specific Factors) 36kcal
Nitrogen 0.39g
Protein 2.41g
Total lipid (fat) 0.2g
Ash 0.62g
Carbohydrate, by difference 8.17g
Calcium, Ca 1mg
Iron, Fe 0.14mg
Magnesium, Mg 14.1mg
Phosphorus, P 76mg
Potassium, K 243mg
Sodium, Na 1mg
Zinc, Zn 0.76mg
Copper, Cu 0.05mg
Manganese, Mn 173mg
Selenium, Se 1.2µg
Vitamins and Other Components:
Thiamin 1mg
Riboflavin 216mg
Niacin 2.74mg
Vitamin B-6 159mg
Biotin 6µg
Folate, total 32µg
Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units 2.2IU
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) 0.06µg
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) 0.06µg
Vitamin D4 0µg
Stigmasterol <0.2mg
Campesterol <0.2mg
Beta-sitosterol <0.2mg
Ergosta-7-enol 6.41mg
Ergosta-5,7-dienol 3.61mg
Ergosta-7,22-dienol 1.51mg
Ergosterol 61mg
Beta-sitostanol <0.2mg
Delta-5-avenasterol <0.2mg
Delta-7-Stigmastenol <0.2mg
Amino acids:
Ergothioneine 11mg

© U.S. Department Of Agriculture

4. Data

other names

Bunun (Taiwan) iahciiz
Chinesisch (traditionell) 香菇
Chinesisch (vereinfacht) 香菇
Englisch Shiitake
Shitake Mushroom
Japanisch Shiitake
Japanisch シイタケ
Japanisch 椎茸
Koreanisch 표고
Niederländisch Shiitake
Twardnik japoński
Schwedisch shiitake
Thailändisch เห็ดหอม
houževnatec jedlý
Shiitake mantarı
Vietnamese nấm hương
Wissenschaftl. Name
Lentinula edodes

other names

Lentinus edodes, Shiitake (Japanese for “Shii Mushroom”), Golden Oak Mushroom, Black Forest Mushroom, Black Mushroom, Oakwood Mushroom, Chinese Mushroom, Shiangu-gu or Shiang Ku (Chinese for “Fragrant Mushroom”), Donku, Pasania, Fragrant Mushroom, Kultur-Shiitake, Shii-Take, Chinesischer Champignon

Kingdom Fungi

Division Basidiomycota
Class Agaricomycetes
Order Agaricales
Family Omphalotaceae
Genus Lentinula
Species L. edodes

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