Reishi mushrooms are one of my favorite mushrooms to forage for in the wild! Every year they grow on dead hemlock trees near my house. They often come up on the same tree year after year. We have many hemlocks that are dead or dying in our area due to the hemlock woolly adelgid bug. We are lucky to benefit from the medicine that comes out of the dying of the trees. We can tap into that connection with the cycles of life death and rebirth. The mushrooms are here to help us transform.
They are unmistakable from any other mushroom. They are a polypore mushroom that grows shelf like on the trees. They grow from as small as your hand to as big as your torso! They start off white and then grow into a red and orange layer on top and stay white on the bottom. In their maturity they turn crimson colored on top.
In my neck of the woods the Reishi peak times for growing in the wild are from the middle of May to the Middle of July. It just so happens to be the same time of the fire element in Chinese medicine which represents early summer. Isn’t it cool that they kind of look like fire red and orange! I always like to sit and meditate with them before harvesting. They have so much wisdom. They look like they are from out of this world. And maybe they are from another dimension!
The best way to harvest them is to take a sharp knife and cut at the base. It can be a little tedious depending how big the mushroom is. Be patient and move slow to not harm the mycelium. The mycelium are the interconnected network of mushrooms underground. When you see the mushrooms those are actually the “flowers” of the larger fungal network. I like to preserve the base so that they can continue to do what they are meant to do in nature. I have even seen a new reishi grow back in its place!
depression are very common.
For even more information, check out this video I made about how to prepare Reishi after harvesting.