Saturday, 21 February 2015

Creature 144: Hericium erinaceus

Just another weird looking fungus
Hericium erinaceus is a fungus which goes by many names. According to Wikipedia it can be called Lion's mane mushroom, Bearded tooth mushroom, Satyr's beard, Bearded hedgehog mushroom, pom pom mushroom, bearded tooth fungus. monkeys head mushroom or mountain priest mushroom. As you can probably gather from these names it is a very hairy looking fungus. 

It may not look mush like a mushroom, but it is the fruiting body of a fungus, so if you define a mushroom that way, it is a mushroom. At some point someone was either very brave or very hungry and decided to taste it. It is, in fact, edible and is sometime used in Chinese vegetarian cuisine. In Chinese medicine, it is considered to have positive effects on the nervous system. The mushroom contains high levels of Chitosan, a variation of chitin which may actually have positive benefits for the nervous system. Studies on its Neuroregenerative properties show that it does have some positive effects on peripheral nerves. 

Hericium erinaceus is found in Europe, North America and Asia.

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Russuales
Family: Hericiaceae
Genus: Hericium
Species: Hericium erinaceus

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