If you love lion's mane mushrooms, you might wish to go foraging for them in your spare time. Not only is foraging for mushrooms good for your physical and mental health, but the activity can also be a great way to connect with nature.
However, some deceptive lion's mane mushroom look-alikes could get in your way during your outdoor excursion.
Don't worry; this guide will tell you everything you need to know about those pesky lion's mane doppelgangers and how to identify lion's mane mushrooms out in the wild.
Get To Know Hericium Mushrooms: Discovering Lion's Mane Doppelgangers
When you start learning about functional mushrooms, you'll quickly realize that the lion's mane mushroom is a member of the Hericiaceae family.
The official Latin name for lion's mane is Hericium erinaceus, but it is also known as bearded tooth mushroom, monkey head mushroom, or pom-pom mushroom. However, some other examples of the Hericium species can look just like a lion's mane. Let's get to know the Hericium species better.
Hericiaceae Mushroom Family: A Quick Introduction
The Hericiaceae mushroom family is categorized as white and fleshy mushrooms that grow on dead or dying trees. Hericium means hedgehog, as these mushrooms have a slightly spiky appearance. The tendrils and details of these mushrooms are intricate and delicate. Some mushrooms within the Hericiaceae family resemble snowflakes or icicles due to these tiny patterns.
Lion's Mane Look-Alikes Within The Hericiaceae Family
Now you know what the family is, let's discuss the Hericiaceae mushrooms you might mistake for lion's mane mushrooms. Lion's mane mushroom identification requires knowledge of these other family members. All these mushrooms are safe to eat, so when you go mushroom foraging, you won't need to worry about getting poisoned!
Hericium americanum is often confused with lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus) due to its similar appearance. However, Hericium americanum has long spines which are fully developed, whereas a lion's mane mushroom will have shorter spines that are not entirely developed.
Hericium coralloides are easier to distinguish from lion's mane mushrooms. They have very short underdeveloped spines and smaller spores. This is the most distinct member of the Hericiaceae family.
Discover The Best Places To Find Lion's Mane Mushrooms
To have a successful day picking wild mushrooms, you need to know where to look. Here's where lion's mane mushrooms grow:
- On hardwood trees - if you're going foraging for lion's mane mushrooms, you'll want to find forests in your area with plenty of hardwood trees. Oak trees, Merbau trees, walnut trees, ash, beech, mahogany, and maple all count as hardwood species.
- On dead logs - you'll need to search for dead logs and dead trees to find lion's mane mushrooms.
- In North America - areas like Northern California are hotbeds for finding a lion's mane mushroom. You can easily research the nearest forests for foraging lion's mane with a quick Google search! There are even classes and guided trips to help you become more informed and skilled at foraging.
Please note that in some countries, lion’s mane mushrooms are considered endangered species. So, you should check whether it is legal to forage for them before venturing out into the great outdoors to find them.
Tips For Identifying Wild Lion's Mane Mushrooms
If you're out picking a wild edible mushroom, here are our best tips for spotting wild lion's mane.
Examine The Color Of The Mushroom
It's important to check the color of the mushroom, as the Hericium genus has a distinct fresh cream or white color that's easy to spot in the wild. If you find a mature lion’s mane mushroom that is more yellow than cream-colored, it is past its prime and should be left alone to decay and disperse its spores.
You might also be able to recognize this Hericium genus by its distinctive smell. These important mushrooms have a lobster or crab-like taste when eaten, and you'll notice this slight seafood smell when foraging lion's mane. It’s only very slight so if you’re not a seafood fan, don’t be repulsed.
Be Sure To Verify The Mushroom's Identity With Guides Or Experts
Of course, plenty of toxic mushrooms are out in the forests, so before you cook and eat any wild mushrooms, it's important to check that you've got the right mushroom. Luckily, there aren’t any poisonous mushrooms that can be mistaken for Lion’s mane, but it’s always best to be sure.
5 Benefits Of Lion's Mane Mushrooms
If you still need to decide whether it's worth the trip to go foraging for a bearded tooth fungus, check out the awesome health benefits of Lion's Mane!
Supports Memory, Cognition, And Concentration
The lion's mane mushroom contains hericenones and other cognitive supporting compounds that encourage the body’s production of nerve growth factor (NGF), which may support neurological health. This mushroom is unsurpassed in its naturally occurring compounds that support our brain and cognitive function. Lion’s mane promotes mental clarity, focus, and memory by offering nourishment to our neurons and cerebral system. It's no wonder lion’s mane has become a popular nootropic. Lion's mane mushrooms are like a cup of coffee, keeping you perky and focused during the workday.
Supports Mood Regulation
The lion's mane mushroom has beneficial compounds called hericenones and others, which can support your body’s natural ability to combat occasional stress or low mood. Lion’s mane supports the body's natural processes to balance health in the hippocampus. By fuelling and supporting this part of the brain, you can support stable moods and better withstand feelings of occasional anxiety or low mood.
Supports The Body’s Natural Inflammatory Response Post Workout
As mentioned above, lion's mane mushrooms are powerful allies in supporting the body's ability to balance its response. By supporting the body in supporting your body's natural occasional inflammatory post workout or other like activity, you can ensure you feel clear-headed and experience feelings of general well-being!
Supports Immune System Functions
Lion's mane mushrooms, and many other types of edible mushrooms, contain prebiotic compounds which can support gut health. Since the gut plays a vital role in immune function - handling all bacteria entering your body via the mouth, nose, and throat - lion's mane can benefit your immune functions by supporting healthy gut flora. Think of a lion’s mane as your own personal immunity shield.
Helps Your Body Transition to a Restful State
Lion's mane mushroom is well-known for its sleep-promoting powers. Lion’s Mane helps support sleep quality without making you drowsy.
Still got some lingering questions about our friendly Hericium mushrooms? Here's everything you need to know!
Is Hericium erinaceus The Same As Lion's Mane Mushroom?
Yes! Hericium erinaceus is simply the Latin, or 'scientific' name for lion's mane mushroom. Lion's mane mushroom has many other names, such as bearded tooth mushroom, pom-pom mushroom, and hedgehog mushroom.
Is There A Fungus That Resembles Lion's Mane?
There are a few fungi that resemble lion's mane mushrooms, as they are all part of the Hericium genus. Many species in this genus have a cream-colored appearance and small intricate spikes. Telling the difference is done by analyzing the length of the branches. None of the mushrooms in this genus are toxic.
Is The Lion's Mane Mushroom Psychoactive?
The lion's mane mushroom isn't the same as magic mushrooms, which contain psilocybin, known for causing psychoactive reactions and hallucinations. However, the lion's mane does offer functional properties for your health and well-being - which we think is even cooler!
How Much Lion's Mane Should I Take Regularly?
Because there are so many different formulations of lion’s mane supplements, it’s best to follow the directions on the package. To receive the health benefits of functional mushrooms, it’s important to take them consistently.
We recommend taking Mushroom Revival’s Lion’s Mane supplements! We use 100% certified organic mushroom's fruiting body to ensure high-quality supplements without fluff or filler.
What Medications Should I Avoid While Consuming Lion's Mane?
Lion's mane is not known to interact with any prescription medications. However, if you have questions it’s always wise to consult your medical practitioner.
What Part Of Lion's Mane Is Edible?
The whole fruiting body of the lion's mane is edible. You can incorporate lion's mane into your favorite seafood dishes to make them more vegan-friendly. The mushroom has a very slight seafood flavor that tastes like crab, lobster, or scallops and can easily replace these ingredients. Of course, the easiest and most convenient way to enjoy the health benefits of lion’s mane is to find high-quality supplements like the ones from Mushroom Revival!
Can I Grow Lion's Mane At Home?
Although it is time-consuming, growing mushrooms at home can be an enjoyable and rewarding process. And, the good news is, you will only need a few tools to do it! If you're up to the challenge, plenty of resources are available to help you grow your lion's mane mushrooms.
Mushroom foraging requires significant knowledge about mushroom identification so you don't get poisoned! But the activity can be enjoyable, rewarding, and therapeutic if you have a mushroom guide handy! Lion's mane mushroom is easy to spot and widely accessible in parts of North America - why not start your foraging journey soon? You can also read our guide about identifying reishi and turkey tail mushrooms.
At Mushroom Revival, we love all things mushroom-related. We're here to spread the word about the health benefits of mushrooms and to provide the highest-quality Lion’s Mane mushroom supplements available on the market. From Lion’s Mane in tinctures, powders, gummies, and capsules or mixed with 9 other potent functional mushrooms in our Daily Mix 10 products.
Check out our blog, podcast, and online resources to begin your wellness journey today!