Where does Lion's Mane grow?

Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus), a cream-colored pom-pom-shaped mushroom gets its name from the fluff-like tendrils, that look like a Lion's Mane. The history of medicinal mushroom use dates back to 450 BCE and nowadays it is one of the most popular functional mushrooms and nootropics around used for its potential anti-inflammatory properties and other great benefits.

While the mushroom of Lion's Mane naturally grows mostly in North America, it can also be found in Europe or Asia. Continue reading to find out where Lion's Mane grows.

Lion's Mane mushroom origin

Lion's Mane mushroom is native to hardwood forests in Asia, North America, and Europe, while the first written documentation of Lion's Mane can be traced back even to the Tang Dynasty in China (618-907 AD). There it was believed to promote longevity and enhance brain function. The mushroom was also used in traditional Korean and Japanese medicine. Lion's Mane is common during late summer and fall in European, North American, and Asian forests.

Where does Lion's Mane grow?

The mushroom tends to grow on tree trunks, stumps, and fallen branches, where it helps decompose the wood and recycle nutrients back into the soil. Lion's Mane mushroom is commonly found growing on decaying wood, especially on oak, beech, walnut, maple, sycamore trees, and other broadleaf trees.

In the wild, you’re more likely to find this mushroom on rotting trees throughout North America, Canada, Europe, and Asia in late summer and fall. Lion's Mane mushrooms are usually easy to identify as they all tend to grow together in a single clump.

Where does Lion's Mane grow in the US?

Lion's Mane mushrooms appear in the southern States of the US (California, Nevada, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, etc.) However, it is hard to tell whether they grow better in Texas than in Virginia.

What trees do Lion's Mane grow on?

Lion's Mane mushroom naturally grows on a variety of hardwood trees. It is often found on decaying or dead wood tree trunks, stumps, or fallen branches. The most common types of trees that Lion's Mane typically grows on are listed below:

  • Oak
  • Beech
  • Maple
  • Elm
  • Walnut
  • Birch

These hardwood trees provide the ideal substrate for Lion's Mane to grow and thrive. The mushroom helps in the decomposition process by breaking down the wood, thereby contributing to nutrient recycling in the forest ecosystem.

How to grow Lion's Mane?

In addition to its natural habitat, Lion's Mane can also be cultivated indoors using controlled conditions on wood substrates. The method for growing your own Lion's Mane is the same as for other fungi types. It takes the steps of choosing a substrate, inoculating the substrate, incubating, promoting fruiting, providing enough light, and harvesting. This cultivation method allows for year-round production of the mushroom for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

Growing Lion's Mane can take several weeks from inoculation to harvest, but the process is satisfying and results in fresh, homegrown mushrooms.

How to preserve Lion's Mane mushroom?

The two most common ways of preserving Lion's Mane are refrigerating fresh mushrooms as well as drying them.

  • Refrigerating. When kept in the refrigerator Lion's Mane stays fresh for about a week. Keep them refrigerated and away from water if you’re storing them fresh. Place them in a paper bag that isn’t too full, so they can breathe. If you have more Lion's Mane mushrooms than you would use in a week, it is advised to dry them out in a food dehydrator or oven and then store them. 
  • Drying. If you want to save your mushrooms for a longer period of time, think about drying them. Wash and finely slice your mushrooms and set them on a tray to dehydrate for the next 6-8 hours. Later store in a jar.

Lion's Mane mushroom benefits

Lion's Mane benefits physical, cognitive, and mental health. Here are a few of the main benefits of Lion's Mane:

  • Disease-fighting properties. Lion's Mane is used for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Regulation of healthy energy levels and fatigue combating. Lion's Mane can increase both physical and mental energy levels.
  • Regulation of blood sugar. Lion's Mane mushrooms may lower blood sugar levels.
  • Improving cognitive function, focus, and memory. The compounds this mushroom contains stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain.
  • Other benefits include protection of heart health, slowing of biological aging, protection of liver and kidney health, reduction of anxiety and stress, and support of gastrointestinal health.

Can you freeze Lion's Mane mushroom?

Yes, you can freeze Lion's Mane mushroomto preserve it for future use. Freezing is a convenient way to extend the mushroom's life while maintaining its nutritional value and flavor. If you wish to freeze Lion's Mane mushrooms first clean the mushrooms, cut them into pieces, blanch (optional), dry the mushrooms, and pack for freezing.

Frozen Lion's Mane mushrooms can last for several months. When you're ready to use them, cook them directly from frozen, or keep them in the refrigerator before cooking.

How to identify Lion's Mane?

Lion's Mane can be identified by its unique appearance, featuring long, white, shaggy spines that cascade downward like a Lion's Mane. It typically forms a rounded or irregular shape. The mushroom is pure white when fresh but may develop slight yellow or brown hues as it ages.

How to hunt for Lion's Mane?

Lion's Mane has no lookalike, which makes this mushroom easy to distinguish.

Lion's Mane is mostly found on dead logs and rotting trees. Its preferred trees to grow on are Oaks, Walnut, Beech, Birch, Maple, and Sycamore trees.

You should have better chances of finding it in the southern states of the US.

Is Lion's Mane mushroom easy to grow?

Lion's Mane is a relatively easy mushroom to cultivate, but it can be challenging for beginners as the mycelium takes longer to develop than other mushrooms. First-time growers might additionally discover it hard to determine if the Lion's Mane is fully colonized and ready to deliver fruit. If you're unfamiliar with mushroom growing, you seek some hands-on experience initially.

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