I found this Hericium erinaceus mushroom growing on Mt. Tamalpais yesterday. The bright white popped out from a long distance in the otherwise dark and misty forest. This is a fantastic edible mushroom (all Hericium are)… Click individual photos below to enlarge.
This particular species is visually spectacular. Specimens weighing multiple pounds, like this one, are not uncommon. It took me some time to cut it off the log it was protruding from.
Here is an upclose image of the icicle-like spines.
And below, for scale, the mushroom in my hand. It is a very dense mass, probably weighing 3-4 pounds.
From Wikipedia… This species is widely appreciated for its edible and medicinal properties. It is called hóu tóu gū (“monkey head mushroom”) in Chinese. In Japanese it is called yamabushitake or 山伏茸; (“mountain hidden mushroom”). In Vietnamese it is called nấm đầu khỉ. In Korean it is called “노루궁뎅이버섯, “Norugongdengi-beoseot”, literally Deertail Mushroom.
In traditional Chinese medicine the species has long been considered medicinal and that compounds in the mushroom have antioxidant effects and properties that regulate blood lipid levels and reduce blood glucose levels. It has been reported that pills of this mushroom are used in the treatment of gastric ulcers and esophageal carcinoma.
Scientists have investigated this mushroom for possible anti-dementia compounds. Primary research has demonstrated the following:
- Stimulated animal nerve cells.
- A double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial showed improved cognitive ability.
- Stimulated nerve growth factor in an in vitro experiment with human astrocytoma cells. Nerve growth factor stimulated by phenol-analogous Hercenone.
- Stimulated myelination in an in vitro experiment.