Ingredients Glossary

Fungus ingredient

China Root / Wolfiporio cocos

Known as Fúlíng in Chinese, this edible mushroom is native to East and Southeast Asia, and now grown throughout the world in subtropical and humid climates.

These mushrooms are only found underground (like truffles) and are recognised for its large, underground sclerotium that resembles a small coconut. The sclerotium can grow quite large, with a white interior and a dark brown exterior that may develop a mottled appearance like tree bark.

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Known as a wood-decaying fungus, it parasitises the roots of conifers as well as hardwood trees, growing on the dead host trees while large sclerotia are formed close to the roots of the host. These mushrooms contain enzymes that degrade the structural component of wood, cellulose.

Traditionally

First recorded in an ancient Chinese medical masterpiece “Sheng Nong’s herbal classic”, China Root has been used as famous traditional Chinese medicine herb for centuries.

Fungus ingredient

Enokitake (Enoki) Mushroom / Flammulina velutipes

Believed to have originated in Asia, this popular culinary fungus is now grown worldwide. Due to its widespread availability across the globe, it is also referred to as Golden Needle, Velvet Shank and Winter mushrooms.

This cold loving mushroom fruit through winter and naturally grows on the stumps of the Chinese hackberry tree (Celtis Sinensis, ‘enoki’ in Japanese), and on other trees including Ash, Mulberry and Persimmon trees.

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Its botanical name Flammunlina derived from the Latin word flammeus meaning ‘small flame’ refers to the orange caps that shine like ‘little flames’ in the winter sunshine. Velutipes meaning ‘with velvet legs’ is a combination of two Latin words velutinus meaning ‘covered with fine hairs’ and pes or ‘foot’ in reference to what the stems look and feel like.

There is a significant difference in appearance between the wild and cultivated varieties of this mushroom. Cultivated mushrooms have been unexposed to light, resulting in a white colour, whereas wild mushrooms usually display a dark brown to orange colour. The cultivated mushrooms are also grown to produce long thin stems, whereas wild mushrooms produce a much shorter and thicker stem.

Traditionally

Long used in Chinese and Japanese cuisine it has now gained worldwide recognition as a culinary mushroom.  Enoki is available widely, including from leading Australian supermarkets.

Fungus ingredient

Maitake Mushroom / Grifola frondosa

This wood-inhabiting fungus is native to China however is now naturalised in other parts of the world. Maitake forms at the trunk base of old trees or dead trunks, typically oak but also other deciduous hardwoods or conifers.

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The meaning of Maitake translates as ‘dancing mushroom’ with mai meaning ‘dance’ and take meaning ‘mushroom’. It is also commonly known as Hen of the Woods, as it closely resembles the texture and meatiness of cooked chicken. It also looks like a hen sitting on her nest in the woods.

Recognised as a wood-decaying fungus (commonly known as lignicolous), it grows on and digests moist wood, causing it to rot. By helping start the decomposition process, it serves as an important and unique function in forest ecosystems. It breaks down the lignin (organic polymer) found in the wood of the trees so that other soil organisms can access the nutrients. Without the help of mushrooms, dead trees and fallen branches would simply sit on the forest floor and not decompose into rich forest soil.

Traditionally

Historically, the Japanese culture has revered Maitake as a popular and highly prized edible mushroom. It is now widely commercially cultivated and marketed.

Fungus ingredient

Oyster Mushroom / Pleurotus ostreatus

Named because of its resemblance of an oyster; oyster-shaped cap, very short stem, pale colour and slippery texture, the Oyster mushroom grows in temperate and subtropical regions throughout the world. It grows in abundance on the trunks of dead or dying deciduous trees.

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Its botanical name Pleurotus is Latin for ‘side ear or sideways’ and refers to the lateral attachment of the stem, Ostreatus meaning ‘oyster’ which acquired its name through its resemblance of oyster shells.

Recognised as a wood-decaying fungus (commonly known as lignicolous), it grows on and digests moist wood, causing it to rot. By helping start the decomposition process, it serves as an important and unique function in forest ecosystems. It breaks down the lignin (organic polymer) found in the wood of the trees so that other soil organisms can access the nutrients. Without the help of mushrooms, dead trees and fallen branches would simply sit on the forest floor and not decompose into rich forest soil.

This fungus is one of the few species of carnivorous mushrooms, having been known to eat bacteria and tiny worms called nematodes. Scientists suggest that this fungus utilise the nutrients in their prey to supplement the low levels of nitrogen available in wood.

Traditionally

Historically found in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine. It is often picked young for the kitchen due to its taste, smell and tender texture during its earlier years of growth.

Fungus ingredient

Reishi Mushroom / Ganoderma lucidum

Native to Asia, but due to its widespread availability across the globe, this oriental fungus is also recognised by its Chinese name, Lingzhi, or more commonly referred to by its Japanese name, Reishi.

Its botanical name Lucidum, is derived from the Latin word meaning ‘shiny or brilliant’, referring to the varnished glossy appearance of the mushroom’s surface.

The Chinese name, Lingzhi is symbolic for spiritual potency, representing success, well-being, divine power and longevity.  Reishi is the Japanese interpretation of the mushroom’s ancient Chinese name ruizhi meaning ‘auspicious mushroom’.

Recognised as a wood-decaying fungus (commonly known as lignicolous), it grows on and digests moist wood, causing it to rot. By helping start the decomposition process, it serves as an important and unique function in forest ecosystems. It breaks down the lignin (organic polymer) found in the wood of the trees so that other soil organisms can access the nutrients. Without the help of mushrooms, dead trees and fallen branches would simply sit on the forest floor and not decompose into rich forest soil.

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Reishi is used as an antioxidant and traditionally used in Chinese Medicine to:

  • Relieve cough
  • Support healthy immune system function
  • Relieve tiredness
  • Maintain vitality
  • Replenish Qi
Traditionally

Reishi has a long history of use. It is also rooted deeply into Chinese and Japanese culture where it is a focal point in ancient works of art due to its association with royalty, wisdom and eternal life. For example, the Forbidden City, the heritage site at the heart of Beijing, is carved with Lingzhi throughout the imperial palace.

Fungus ingredient

Shaggy Ink Cap Mushroom / Coprinus comatus

Also referred to as Shaggy Mane, Lawyer’s Wig and Ink Cap, this culinary mushroom has a cylindrical white shaggy cap that becomes bell shaped as the mushroom matures. It favours growing in meadows and open woodlands and is commonly found in groups or long lines.

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The unique feature of this species is that it is edible only when young and fresh. When it matures, it secretes a black liquid that is laden with spores.

The botanical name Coprinus means ‘living on dung’ – which is true to many of the ink caps (e.g. Snowy Inkcap) but not particularly apt for this species. Comatus means ‘hairy’ and is a reference to the shaggy scales that stand out from the cap’s surface.

Traditionally

The history of practical uses of this mushroom is quite limited and it is one of the few beneficial mushrooms with little history of application. It was not until the 20th century that some initial knowledge on the benefits of the Shaggy Ink Cap was gathered.

Fungus ingredient

Silver Ear / Tremella fuciformis

Native to Asia, this popular culinary and medicinal fungus is now grown worldwide. Due to its widespread availability across the globe, it is commonly known as Snow Fungus, Snow Ear and White Jelly mushroom and grows primarily in tropical regions on dead or fallen tree branches.

Named because of its peculiar appearance, the fungus has a pale yellow to translucent white colour with gelatinous lobes that closely resembles human ears.

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Recognised as a wood-decaying fungus (commonly known as lignicolous), it grows on and digests moist wood, causing it to rot. By helping start the decomposition process, it serves as an important and unique function in forest ecosystems. It breaks down the lignin (organic polymer) found in the wood of the trees so that other soil organisms can access the nutrients. Without the help of mushrooms, dead trees and fallen branches would simply sit on the forest floor and not decompose into rich forest soil.

Traditionally

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used for health promotion and longevity. According to Chinese history, the use of Snow mushroom as a fountain of youth goes back to the Tang Dynasty. Legend has it that during the eighth century, Yang Guifei, one of the Four Beauties of ancient China—relied on snow mushroom to maintain her glowing, youthful complexion.

Fungus ingredient

Trumpet Mushroom / Pleurotus eryngii

Native to North Africa, Asia and Europe, it is now grown commercially across the world. The Trumpet or King Oyster mushroom is the largest species in the oyster mushroom genus (Pleurotus).

It naturally grows on the roots of Apiaceae plants unlike its Pleurotus relative the Oyster mushroom which is a wood-decay fungus.

Known for its thick, meaty white stem and small tan cap, it is a popular culinary mushroom due to its flavour and texture qualities.

Traditionally

Historically, the Japanese culture has revered Trumpet Mushroom as a popular and highly prized edible mushroom. It is now widely commercially cultivated and marketed.

Fungus ingredient

Turkey Tail / Trametes versicolor

Native to Europe, Asia and North America it is now grown commercially across the world. The fungus uniquely features no stalk, only a concave cup that directly attaches to the tree or log on which it lives. Its series of multicoloured stripes, ranging from white, brown, red and purple, is said to resemble that of a turkey’s tail.

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Recognised as a wood-decaying fungus (commonly known as lignicolous), it grows on and digests moist wood, causing it to rot. By helping start the decomposition process, it serves as an important and unique function in forest ecosystems. It breaks down the lignin (organic polymer) found in the wood of the trees so that other soil organisms can access the nutrients. Without the help of mushrooms, dead trees and fallen branches would simply sit on the forest floor and not decompose into rich forest soil.

Turkey tail does not have a culinary use, but is said to make a pleasant, mushroom flavoured chewing gum.

Traditionally

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is known as Yun Zhi, and is believed to promote health, strength and longevity.