Monkey head mushroom

Hericium erinaceus

Hericium erinaceus (also called Lion's Mane Mushroom, Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Hedgehog Mushroom, Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom, pom pom mushroom, or Bearded Tooth Fungus) is an edible mushroom in the tooth fungus group. It can be identified by its tendency to grow all the spines out from one group (rather than branches), long spines (greater than 1cm length) and its appearance on hardwoods. Hericium erinaceus can be mistaken for three other species of Hericium which also grow in North America, all of which are fine, popular edibles. In the wild, these mushrooms are common during late summer and fall on dead hardwoods, particularly American Beech.

Hericium erinaceus is a choice edible when young, and the texture of the cooked mushroom is often compared to seafood. This mushroom is cultivated commercially on logs or sterilized sawdust. It is available fresh or dried in Asian grocery stores.

It is called hóu tóu gū (simplified: 猴头菇; traditional: 猴頭菇; lit. "monkey head mushroom") in Chinese. In Japanese it is called yamabusitake (kanji: ; katakana: , lit. "mountain hidden mushroom"). In Vietnamese it is called nấm đầu khỉ.

This mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, and a study on rats in 2005 showed that some compounds in the mushroom, like D-threitol, D-arabinitol, and palmitic acid may have antioxidant effects, may regulate blood lipid levels and may reduce blood glucose levels.

Ying (1987) reports that pills of this mushroom are used in the treatment of gastric and esophageal carcinoma."


  • Clavaria erinaceus
  • Dryodon erinaceus
  • Hydnum erinaceus

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