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Hen of the Woods

Edible Edible
Autumn Autumn
Summer Summer

A tasty find which can sometimes be located by its pleasant aroma, this polypore is quite short lived and starts to smell awful when very mature. Can cause allergic reactions in a small amount of people.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Hen of the Woods (EN), Maitake (J), Iâr y Coed (CY), Żagwica Listkowata (PL), Ágas Tapló (HU)
Scientific Name Grifola frondosa
Synonyms Cladomeris frondosa, Polyporus frondosus
Season Start Aug
Season End Nov
Average Mushroom height (CM)
Average Cap width (CM)
Please note that each and every mushroom you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Fruiting Body

Tier like clusters of wavy edged grey brown caps than can grow quite large and end up more tan brown.


Has many small pores on the white underside of the cap although spore bearing patches can appear on the top of the cap surface


White and firm.


Mainly at the base of Oaks but can be found on a few other deciduous trees.

Possible Confusion

Possibly the Giant Polypore (Meripilus giganteus) aka Blackening Polypore, pictured, but this is less frondose and more tan brown rather than the grey brown colour of Hen of the Woods and as the name suggests the Blackening Polypore will stain black when damaged or very mature. The Blackening Polypore is an edible mushroom so confusion is not a problem with this species.

Spore Print

White, broadly ellipsoid. You should scrape your spores into a small pile to get an accurate spore colour.

Taste / Smell

Has a good mushroomy  taste that is strengthened by drying.


Fairly uncommon.

Other Facts

Called Maitake this is one of the most used mushrooms in Japan and due to the large weight of mushrooms that can be found it’s also called the King of Mushrooms there.
Research has found that compounds in Hen of the Woods can help inhibit the growth of some cancer cells so studies are ongoing.


4 comments for Hen of the Woods

  1. Elaine Johnson says:

    I think I have at least 4 of them in my garden. They are creeping me out as I hate the look of mushrooms. Will try to dig them up and dispose of them unless someone wants to come and get them. Fairly large (to me)

    1. Phil Leng says:

      Hi Elaine,

      If you have Hen of the Woods they will be growing on an oak tree, so you would have to totally remove the tree to prevent them from returning. Has to be said it would be unlikely to be Hen of the Woods at this time of year.

    2. Robert Malcolm Kay says:

      They are creeping me out as I hate the look of mushrooms.
      ~ In that case, you are in the wrong place: do bear in mind that your body contains literally billions of bacteria and lots of other organisms: at least 2 kilos of them: and they keep your immune system bouncing: don’t be in denial: embrace your inner fungi!

      1. JJ says:

        I just have to say that I love the above reply.😄 Embrace your inner fungi. I’d like that on a T shirt. 😊

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