Maitake (Hen-of-the-Woods) Mushroom: Historical Use and Basics

The maitake mushroom, also known as the “hen of the wood”, has become a famous culinary mushroom known for its powerful health-supporting properties. Its perceived benefits have made this species one of the most popular mushrooms cultivated for supplement. But you may be wondering; where did maitake come from? Why is this species so special?

This article will explore the historical use of maitake (hen of the wood), its many benefits, and how to incorporate it into your daily health routine.

The Historical Use of Maitake (Hen-of-the-Woods)

Grifola Frodosa, also known as maitake, is an edible mushroom native to China, northeastern Japan, and North America. In the wild, maitake can be found in the forest at the base of oak, maple or elm trees, but it is now grown indoors.

While many stories differ as to how maitake got its name “the dancing mushroom,” many sources state that maitake was a rare and valuable species that many Japanese healers sought out for its powerful medicinal properties. When they found them growing in the forest, everyone danced and rejoiced at their amazing discovery. This species was also easy to spot with its hen-like overlapping winged appearance that also makes this species known as the “hen-of-the-woods”.

Maitake gained its popularity as a medicinal mushroom for its powerful ability supporting immune health and for its regulatory benefits. This is due to the amount of beta-glucans and antioxidants found in this species. When fully grown, the maitake can weigh up to 100 kilograms, making it one of the largest species of mushroom. Another feature to appreciate about maitake is that it is a soft, multi-pored mushroom. Its texture makes cooking easier.

Whether this mushroom is cooked into a meal or processed into powder or extract form, maitake is a species that offers a number of benefits to support health and wellness.

Maitake (Hen-of-the-Woods) Nutrition Facts.

Like many other mushrooms, maitake (hen of the wood) is low in calories and high in protein. It makes an excellent addition to any meal for its many beneficial nutritional properties. Maitake consists of:

  • Beta-glucans: Beta-glucans are polysaccharides which occur naturally in the fungal cell walls of many functional mushrooms including maitake. Beta-glucans help activate and strengthen the immune system to support your body’s natural functions.
  • Bioactive compounds: Maitake consists of a variety of beneficial bioactive compounds such as niacin, riboflavin and vitamin D.
    • Niacin is a form of vitamin B3 that is essential for supporting healthy cholesterol levels.
    • Riboflavin is vitamin B2 and plays an important role in breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats to support energy production in the body.
    • Maitake is known to be high in vitamin D, which offers a number of benefits to support immune, heart and bone health. The vitamin D content found in maitake varies depending on where the species was grown.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a mineral found in bones and teeth and is beneficial in the maintenance, growth and repair of cells, tissues and also helps in the formation adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that the body uses to store energy.
  • Potassium: Maitake offers an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that supports nerve and kidney function, heart health and blood sugar levels.

The nutrients found in maitake are plentiful, but you may be wondering if this species can provide the same benefits when grown indoors? Are there any risks to mushrooms grown in the wild?

Hazards of Wild Maitake (Hen-of-the-Woods) Mushroom Cultivation.

Maitake is perfectly safe to eat when grown outdoors, however different variables can affect any type of mushroom grown in the wild.

Weather conditions

Temperature and lighting changes can have a big impact mycelium fungal growth. To be abundantly fruitful, mushrooms must be grown at a constant temperature (specific to the species) that can be unpredictable in nature.


While we all love mushrooms, so do creatures in nature. Insects will mostly participate in eating endangered mushrooms removing nutritional factors. Not to mention the potential diseases carried by insects and other animals that can contaminate the mushrooms.

Mushrooms also absorb and accumulate many nutrients from their environment. A study found that when reviewing some species of mushrooms grown in a polluted outdoor ecosystem, the results showed a concentration of heavy metals found in the mushrooms. Environmental factors affecting mushrooms can be toxic to those who consume them and cause serious health complications.

Benefits of Maitake grown indoors

While once grown only in the wild, maitake is now commonly grown indoors. This method offers a safer and more reliable technique to obtain a nutritious and safe-to-eat product. When grown indoors, the growth process can be closely monitored and will be easier to maintain based on consistent temperature and environmental factors free of any toxins or threats commonly found in nature. Mushrooms grown indoors can also go through a lengthy testing process to ensure the mushrooms are third-party inspected and free of insects.

Om mushroom growth process

AdaptogenShrooms is committed to excellence in product quality and food safety at every step of our development process. Our certified organic mushrooms are grown in a controlled, clean area cGMP (certified good manufacturing practice) facility. This process allows our mushrooms to be monitored by mycology experts to ensure secure development free of environmental toxins, bugs and pesticides.

We use filtered air and water and pure organic oats as a growing medium. Because many mushrooms grow on wood in nature, the oat is kept intact with the hull, so the mushrooms have something difficult to break. In this way, the mushrooms secrete more enzyme activity, resulting in a wide range of nutrients that are protected in our indoor, controlled environment.

Maitake Mushrooms at AdaptogenShrooms

During development, our mushrooms are harvested and then heated to dehydrate them into a whole food product. The dried mushrooms are then ground into powders creating a convenient way to add a type of mushroom to your daily diet. After an Om mushroom supplement goes through the entire process and is powdered or encapsulated, it is sent for third-party testing to ensure quality. Here all mushroom supplements are tested for heavy metals and other contaminants to meet and exceed industry standards.

After thorough testing, our mushroom supplements are then ready for consumers and we offer a variety of mushroom powder mixes including maitake. Our maitake mushroom powder blend can support healthy blood sugar levels, healthy weight control and healthy digestion. This incredible blend is also great support for your immune system.

Considering the long history of maitake (hen of the wood) mushrooms and the tremendous benefits they offer, maitake is the perfect natural addition to your diet. And at AdaptogenShrooms, we make it easy. Just add a teaspoon of our organic maitake mushroom powder mix daily for coffee, smoothies or a recipe of your choice to experience the amazing benefits.

Leave a comment