Lions mane is a kind of mushroom that the untrained eye would never actually be able to recognize as being a mushroom. A rather rare species to find that looks like a hybrid of cauliflower and angel wings, the lions mane is far more than just strange and delicious.
In a previous article titled 5 Types of Medicinal Mushrooms: The Royal Family of Fungus, we look into the lions mane, Chaga, reishi, cordyceps, and turkey tail mushrooms. But they’re all so weird and interesting it became necessary to dedicate a separate article to each one.
A far more experienced mycologist than I, Paul Stamets aided in the creation of a documentary titled Fantastic Fungi (available for rent or purchase) that will utterly change the way you see the world.
Interested in mushroom tinctures? Rainbo is my personal favorite Canadian company (their mushroom extract maple syrup is divine). Wooden Spoon Herbs is an excellent American company, and their Mushroom Magic tincture contains all the mushrooms in this series!!
You can also grow your own mushrooms! This incredible Florida based company called Nearby Naturals, actually mails you your very own mushroom growing kit with detailed instructions. Their customer service is amazing and they’ll quickly answer any question you have.
Related: Types of Mushroom | Chaga Mushroom | Cordyceps Mushroom | Reishi Mushroom | Turkey Tail Mushroom | Lions Mane Mushroom | Types of Truffles | Medicinal Mushrooms
Introducing Lions Mane Mushrooms
Hericium Erinaceus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years (that we know of). This type of medicine is preventative, and understanding that preserving the body’s health is more efficient than damaging it and dealing with reparations later.
It’s grown in popularity over the recent decade due to studies done proving significant positive results in brain function when taken daily.
Fungi is something that has been around longer than dinosaurs have, and the natural knowledge of harmony and balance that comes from being a billion years old is something that humans could use. Different mushrooms seem to have the remedy for almost any ailment a human has, and the lions mane mushroom focuses on clarity of the mind.
- part of the tooth fungus group – fruiting body shaped like a cluster of pendant or spine-like projections
- white spore print
- lacks a stipe (mushroom stem)
- no distinct cap
- choice edible
- white when young, fading to yellow and brown when decaying
Interactions With Other Plant Species
The lions mane mushroom is a parasitic species. It grows as a parasite on a host tree, releasing toxic properties that will eventually kill the tree, which the lions mane mushroom will then digest. This is still considered as a symbiotic relationship, only a parasitic symbiosis, detrimental to the other organism.
This mushroom is also a saprotroph, meaning that it digests decaying matter. In totality, the lions mane mushroom digests decaying matter that it was both responsible for the killing, and organisms that die from other causes.
Where it Happily Grows
Like most other mushrooms, they have a very short fruiting season. They can usually be found in the later summer and early fall, and tend to grow on American Beech trees.
The lions mane mushroom grows in North America, Europe, and Asia, although it is most successful in southwestern British Columbia and the western United States.
Benefits of Consumption
The lions mane is a choice edible, meaning that it will taste absolutely delicious if you’re lucky enough to forage some and quickly cook them at home. They can also be made into tinctures and powders to take as a daily supplement.
Antioxidants are found in lions mane mushrooms. Antioxidants fight inflammation and oxidation in the body. This can help people who are experiencing diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease. Fighting inflammation also helps delay the physical signs of aging.
We understand that aging occurs since our cells no longer replicate as quickly, and eventually stop replicating completely. The lions mane mushroom contains two compounds that actually stimulate cell growth in the brain. In other words, this mushroom is neurogenic – which is incredible, seeing as there is almost nothing else that exists that is neurogenic. These two compounds are hericenones and erinacines. Thanks to these compounds, the brain is actually able to create new synaptic connections.
Biomedical Research released a study in 2011 on brain function in mice when given lions mane supplements. The mushroom prevented the build-up of amyloid-beta, which is brain plaque developed in Alzheimer’s patients. Lions mane mushroom supplements can greatly benefit older adults with mild cognitive impairments. If taken regularly at any age, it can help with memory retention, mental energy, and clarity.
What do lions mane mushrooms taste like?
It is said that lions mane has a very delicate sweet taste. A lot of mushrooms tend to resemble a seafood-y type flavor, reminiscent of lobster or crab specifically. It’s recommended to consume them in the same way: with lots of butter.
Where do lions mane mushrooms grow?
They are native to northeastern and northwestern North America. They prefer hot summers and cools falls with plenty of moisture.
How can I buy lions mane mushrooms?
Fresh lions mane mushrooms are hard to come by, there are lots of options for powders and tinctures. Rainbo and Wooden Spoon Herbs are a couple of personal favorites.
Do lions mane mushrooms cause intoxication?
No, they do not. They are a type of mushroom that does not contain psilocybin, which is the chemical present in psychedelic mushrooms.
Can dogs eat lions mane mushrooms?
Funnily enough, some people actually recommend giving mushroom supplements to dogs. Dogs Naturally Magazine explains why.
Are lions mane mushrooms legal?
Most certainly yes, they are a choice edible mushroom with absolutely no psychedelic properties. If they weren’t so rare, they would be sold in grocery stores.