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Lion’s Mane

Edible Edible
Autumn Autumn
Summer Summer

A Europe-wide but rare and unique looking mushroom. One of the four species listed in Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). It is illegal to pick or even cut samples so photos only if you are lucky enough to find one. All the specimens that weren’t grown from kits were collected abroad, none of the wild fruit bodies were collected in the UK.

Mushroom Type
Common Names Bearded Tooth (UK), Lion's Mane (US), Pom Pom mushroom (US)
Scientific Name Hericium erinaceus
Season Start Jun
Season End Oct
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

Typically spherical. White to cream coloured when young, yellowing then browning with age. The fruiting body is formed of 2–5 cm long, pendant spines.

Spines

2–5 cm long, white to cream, pendant, growing in clusters. The spines are very soft and fragile.

Flesh

White to cream, soft and spongy, toughening and yellowing with age.

Habitat

Weakly parasitic. Growing on old, rotten or dying hardwood, especially beech, oak, and chestnut. Causes white-rot.

Possible Confusion

It could be confused with other members of the same genus, i.e. Tiered Tooth, Hericium cirrhatum, and Coral Tooth, Hericium coralloides, in Europe, or Bear’s Head, Hericium americanum, in the US, which was also called Lion’s Mane until recently.

Spore Print

White. Ellipsoid to almost spherical (subglobose), their surface is punctate.

Taste / Smell

It is an excellent, choice edible species with a mild crab or lobster-like smell and taste but due to its legal protection, do not forage it in the UK (or anywhere else where it is protected)!

Frequency

Very rare in the UK, and protected by law (at the highest level). If you are lucky enough to have found one, please record it via the regional branch of BMS or one of the known recording apps/platforms.

Other Facts

It is a valued culinary mushroom and a well-known medicinal mushroom with many well-documented health benefits (you can read more about them here).

Because of the growing interest about this species, commercial strains are available for cultivation. Please note that all of them are from a foreign origin. Without taking sides, the potential environmental risks of foreign strains are still subject of heated scientific discussion.

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