Identifying Mushroom LOG Fruits

This page contains photos of some of Haw River Mushrooms log grown mushrooms at various stages of fruiting, and is intended to help home growers identify their mushroom species as it fruits. This is for educational purposes only and it is the responsibility of the user to positively ascertain the identity of any mushroom they consume.

Baby Shiitake - “Button Phase”

Note, your first mushroom may emerge close to where you put the inoculated spawn, but a fully inoculated log can fruit from anywhere on the log. Young shiitake mushrooms emerge with the cap still attached to the stem and slowly separate as the mushroom cap grows and flattens.

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Mature Shiitakes

As shiitake mushrooms mature, their caps become flatter. However, this flattening isn’t as dramatic as it is in the Oyster Mushroom, which will actually eventually “reverse umbrella” as it maximizes its spore surface. Choosing when to harvest shiitakes is a bit of an art, choosing between how much exposure to sun, rain, and pest pressure you can allow vs capitalizing on the maximum possible growth of the mushroom. Mushrooms picked younger will have a longer shelf life. Whenever possible, avoid harvesting wet mushrooms as this will greatly reduce shelf life. Sometimes we harvest baby shiitake simply to avoid needing to tarp them during a long rain forecast.

This flush shows shiitakes on the lower part that should be harvested now or in the next 36 hours.  The mushrooms on the upper part of the picture  may need an additional 36-72 hours to reach full maturity.

This flush shows shiitakes on the lower part that should be harvested now or in the next 36 hours. The mushrooms on the upper part of the picture may need an additional 36-72 hours to reach full maturity.

Notice the white space on the lower mushroom, likely caused by a slug or insect taking a few bites.  Insect damage can be minimized by harvesting mushrooms as soon as they reach maturity.

Notice the white space on the lower mushroom, likely caused by a slug or insect taking a few bites. Insect damage can be minimized by harvesting mushrooms as soon as they reach maturity.

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster and shiitake logs stacked in the same log cabin style formation.

Oyster and shiitake logs stacked in the same log cabin style formation.

Look closely and you can see three clusters of tiny “pins” on this log.

Look closely and you can see three clusters of tiny “pins” on this log.

Oyster mushroom can fruit in large flushes, so extra care to make sure your log stack allows plenty of space for growth is important.

Oyster mushroom can fruit in large flushes, so extra care to make sure your log stack allows plenty of space for growth is important.

This log was buried “totem style” about 6 inches into the ground, allowing the log to wick moisture up and helping to reduce the need for supplemented water.

This log was buried “totem style” about 6 inches into the ground, allowing the log to wick moisture up and helping to reduce the need for supplemented water.

Multiple fruits on a log about 6 months after inoculation.

Multiple fruits on a log about 6 months after inoculation.

Lions Mane

A grade A lions mane fruiting on a 2018 class participants log.  Their log fruited after about 6 months of incubation.  We would recommend harvesting a mushroom of this size and texture now or within the next 24 hours, unless you want to explore just how long the teeth can get.  In that case, you can let it go longer but note that very long mature teeth (they can be over an inch long!) can co-relate to a mushroom that is more bitter in taste and has a very short shelflife (ie -go from harvest to pan if you can!)

A grade A lions mane fruiting on a 2018 class participants log. Their log fruited after about 6 months of incubation. We would recommend harvesting a mushroom of this size and texture now or within the next 24 hours, unless you want to explore just how long the teeth can get. In that case, you can let it go longer but note that very long mature teeth (they can be over an inch long!) can co-relate to a mushroom that is more bitter in taste and has a very short shelflife (ie -go from harvest to pan if you can!)

This is a closeup of a wild harvested lions mane found in Alamance County in 2019.  The yellowing at the end of the “teeth” was likely caused by wind exposure and age, giving it a very short shelf life.  We still ate it and it was delicious!

This is a closeup of a wild harvested lions mane found in Alamance County in 2019. The yellowing at the end of the “teeth” was likely caused by wind exposure and age, giving it a very short shelf life. We still ate it and it was delicious!

One of our 2018 log class participants had all three varieties fruit at once!  From left to right, oyster, lions mane, and shiitake.

One of our 2018 log class participants had all three varieties fruit at once! From left to right, oyster, lions mane, and shiitake.

We did see some wild spores colonize some of our logs.  On the far left is Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) and the middle is some sort of polypore.  Fortunately most of these did co-fruit with the intended variety.  The turkey tail mushroom can be used in stocks and tinctures.  It has several lookalikes so we use Michael Kuo’s Turkey Tail Test at https://mushroomexpert.com/trametes_versicolor.html to make sure its the real deal.  Most of these unintended guests came up on sweet gum, so we are no longer using that softer wood for classes, although we do consider it a fine choice for home growers if that’s what is abundant in your area.

We did see some wild spores colonize some of our logs. On the far left is Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) and the middle is some sort of polypore. Fortunately most of these did co-fruit with the intended variety. The turkey tail mushroom can be used in stocks and tinctures. It has several lookalikes so we use Michael Kuo’s Turkey Tail Test at https://mushroomexpert.com/trametes_versicolor.html to make sure its the real deal. Most of these unintended guests came up on sweet gum, so we are no longer using that softer wood for classes, although we do consider it a fine choice for home growers if that’s what is abundant in your area.