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Where Does Lion’s Mane Grow?
The bearded tooth fungus is legendary for its therapeutic and wellness benefits. It is also delicious and nutritious, making it one of the most famous functional mushrooms today. Its unique appearance is also why it is popular. It has a mythical appearance, and it's not the only mysterious thing about Lion's Mane, which is why many people want to know as much as possible about the mushroom.
Besides the potential therapeutic and wellness benefits, the next best place to start when learning all you can about Lion's Mane is where they grow, which is the basis of where they get all their best qualities.
What Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?
Assuming you’re new to the functional mushroom scene, Lion's Mane could be the one you're looking for. It also goes by other names like pom pom blanc or monkey's head mushroom. It has a large, conspicuous, white, pom-pom-like appearance.
Lion's Mane has unique gills that appear like teeth or needles. They cascade downwards as they grow, which gives the mushroom a shaggy look – more like a lion's Mane, hence the name.
The mushroom has a soft, spongy texture with an internal structure similar to that of a cauliflower. Its mild, slightly sweet flavour is similar to crab or lobster and has a meat-like texture, making it a great addition to your meal.
The mushroom is not only edible and delicious but has a host of potential health and therapeutic benefits.
Where Does Lion’s Mane Mushroom Grow?
Lion’s Mane prefers to grow on dead hardwood as a natural habitat. Its preferred trees are oak, walnut, birch, maple, and sycamore, which are spread out in forests in Europe, North America and Asia.
The mushroom can grow on poplar, tulip, and willow hardwood logs on a smaller production scale. Most commonly, the fungi are found on decaying trees in late summer and fall.
The mushroom can also be found in the woods of dying or dead trees. The mushroom is easy to identify because of its white cascading spines and its natural attraction to hardwood logs. Also, the mushroom grows together in a single clump, making it almost impossible to recognise.
Some inedible mushrooms may sometimes have a similar appearance to Lion’s Mane, so you need to speak to an expert if you want to harvest the mushrooms yourself or stumble across one you suspect is Lion’s Mane.
Can You Replicate Lion’s Mane Mushroom Habitat?
You can grow Lion’s Mane in an artificial environment, which requires following a specific procedure.
First, you need to start with a culture on agar and make your own grain spawn. It’s the same process for Lion’s Mane as other species.
Grow the culture out on agar to make grain spawn and add it to a bulk, substrate and fruit. You can also grow Lion's Mane from liquid culture. However, you should still consider putting the liquid culture on agar for long-term storage and re-use.
You can take the spawn and add it to a substrate. Hardwood sawdust with bran is the best combination for a fruiting block.
Put the fruiting block in a bag in a humid environment, and put the block on its side on a plate after cutting some Xs. Use a spray bottle to mist the inside of the bag a few times a day, and make sure there's plenty of fresh air circulating to encourage the growth of the fungus.
Growing Lion’s Mane on Logs
You can also grow Lion's Mane on logs. It's cost-effective if you're looking to get a steady, reliable and fresh supply of Lion’s Mane for years. Here’s a quick guide on where and how you can grow Lion’s Mane mushrooms;
Gather the supplies
The first step in growing Lion's Mane mushrooms on logs is to gather the material and equipment needed, including finding suitable logs and ordering spawn plugs.
Lion's Mane can grow on hardwoods like beech, birch, oak, maple and elm. When finding logs, look for healthy ones. Although Lion's Mane thrives on decaying and dead hardwood logs in its natural habitat, it won't work in a controlled setting. Trees with decayed wood or other infections may have other fungi that could inhibit the growth of Lion's Mane.
Because Lion's Mane mushroom grows large, try using logs that are 3 to 10 inches in diameter. These will give you a larger mushroom.
For the best results, harvest logs from dormant trees during fall or winter. These have more concentrated sugars that can feed the fungi. Once the log is cut, don’t take more than a month before inoculating. If you let the logs lie around for too long, other fungus could populate the logs.
The next step is to buy spawn plugs. You can easily find spawn plugs online. The number you buy will depend on the size and length of the logs. On average, about 30-50 plugs should cover a 4-foot log.
Inoculate Your Logs
Inoculating the logs is inserting your plug spawn dowels into the holes. After inoculating, seal the plugged holes with wax to protect the mycelium. You can use candle wax, beeswax or cheese wax.
Incubate the logs
Store the logs in a shady place. Then, you can stack them in different ways while incubating them to maximise air circulation and humidity.
You'll need to water the logs once or twice per week for 10 minutes to maintain the appropriate moisture level. It can take up to two years after inoculating the logs before they produce their first harvest.