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Scientific classification
Species:L. edodes
Binomial name
Lentinula edodes
(Berk.) Pegler (1976)
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Scientific classification
Species:L. edodes
Binomial name
Lentinula edodes
(Berk.) Pegler (1976)
Lentinula edodes
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Mycological characteristics
gills on hymenium
cap is convex
hymenium is free
stipe is bare

spore print is white

to buff
ecology is saprotrophic
edibility: choice

The shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is an edible mushroom native to East Asia, which is cultivated and consumed in many Asian countries. It is considered a medicinal mushroom in some forms of traditional medicine.[1] There is research which continues to investigate the use of Shiitake mushrooms in the production of organic fertiliser and compost from hardwood.[2][3]

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

The mushroom's Japanese name shiitake About this sound listen  (kanji: 椎茸) is composed of shii, the name of the tree Castanopsis cuspidata that provides the dead logs on which it is typically cultivated, and take meaning 'mushroom'.

It is also commonly called "Sawtooth oak mushroom", "black forest mushroom", "black mushroom", "golden oak mushroom", or "oakwood mushroom".[4]

The species was formerly known as Lentinus edodes and Agaricus edodes. The latter name was first applied by the English botanist Miles Joseph Berkeley in 1878.

Shiitake growing wild in Hokkaido

Cultivation history[edit]

Shiitake are native to Japan, China and Korea and have been grown in all three countries since prehistoric times.[5] In Japan, the oldest record regarding the shiitake mushroom dates to 199 CE at the time of Emperor Chūai.[6] In China, the first written record of successful shiitake cultivation can be traced to Wu Sang Kwuang in the Song Dynasty (AD 960–1127).[citation needed]

The Japanese cultivated the mushroom by cutting shii trees with axes and placing the logs by trees that were already growing shiitake or contained shiitake spores. Before 1982, the Japanese variety of these mushrooms could only be grown in traditional locations using ancient methods. A 1982 report on the budding and growth of the Japan Islands variety revealed opportunities for commercial cultivation in the United States.[7]

In 1974, total production was estimated at about 143,000 tonnes, with Japan representing 94.5% of the total, China 4.2%, Taiwan 1.1%, and South Korea 0.2%.

Shiitake mushrooms are now widely cultivated all over the world, and contribute about 25% of total yearly production of mushrooms.[3] Commercially, shiitake mushrooms are typically grown in conditions similar to their natural environment on either artificial substrate or hardwood logs, such as oak.[7][3][2]

Culinary use[edit]

Japanese Ekiben "Shiitake-meshi"

Fresh and dried shiitake have many uses in the cuisines of East Asia. In Japan, they are served in miso soup, used as the basis for a kind of vegetarian dashi, and as an ingredient in many steamed and simmered dishes. In Chinese cuisine, they are often sautéed in vegetarian dishes such as Buddha's delight. In Thailand, they may be served fried or steamed.[citation needed]

Shiitake are also dried and sold as preserved food. These are rehydrated by soaking in water before using. Many people prefer dried shiitake to fresh, considering that the sun-drying process draws out the umami flavour from the dried mushrooms. The stems of shiitake are rarely used in Japanese and other cuisines, primarily because the stems are harder and take longer to cook than the soft fleshy caps.

One type of high grade shiitake is called donko in Japanese[citation needed] and dōnggū in Chinese, literally "winter mushroom". Another high grade of mushroom is called huāgū in Chinese, literally "flower mushroom", which has a flower-like cracking pattern on the mushroom's upper surface. Both of these are produced at lower temperatures.

Today, shiitake mushrooms have become popular in other countries.[citation needed] Russia produces and consumes large amounts of them, mostly sold pickled; and the shiitake is slowly making its way into western cuisine.[citation needed] There is a global industry in shiitake production, with local farms in most western countries in addition to large scale importation from China, Japan, Korea and elsewhere.[citation needed]

Like all mushrooms, shiitakes produce vitamin D2 upon exposure of the ergosterol to the UVB rays of sunlight or broadband UVB fluorescent tubes.[8][9]

While all mushrooms have ergosterol in and the potential to produce vitamin D2 in such a manner, the transparent white of the shiitake gills permits greater contact of the UVB with ergosterol and very high D2 values can be achieved with exposure to broadband UVB fluorescent tubes.[10]

Mushrooms, shiitake, dried
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,238 kJ (296 kcal)
75.37 g
Sugars2.21 g
Dietary fiber11.5 g
0.99 g
9.58 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.3 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
1.27 mg
Niacin (B3)
14.1 mg
21.879 mg
Vitamin B6
0.965 mg
Folate (B9)
163 μg
Vitamin C
3.5 mg
Vitamin D
3.9 μg
Trace metals
11 mg
1.72 mg
132 mg
1.176 mg
294 mg
1534 mg
13 mg
7.66 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Preliminary research[edit]

Lentinan, a beta-glucan isolated from the shiitake mushroom.

Basic research has evaluated whether consumption of shiitake mushrooms may affect the immune system, possess antibacterial properties, reduce platelet aggregation, or possess antiviral properties, possibly through protease inhibitors.[11][12][13]

Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) is an α-glucan-rich compound isolated from shiitake. In Japan, AHCC is the second most popular complementary and alternative medicine used by cancer patients[14] and is metabolized via the CYP450 2D6 pathway.[15] Eritadenine, an isolate of the mushroom, is an inhibitor of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine hydrolase (SAHH) and has hypocholesterolemic activity.

Other basic research tested if AHCC may increase the body's resistance to pathogens as shown in experiments with the influenza virus, West Nile virus, or bacterial infection.[16] Animal research and limited clinical trials indicate that AHCC may enhance immune function.[16][17] Other basic research has shown that AHCC may affect hepatocellular carcinoma and prostate cancer.[16]

Rarely, consumption of raw or slightly cooked shiitake mushrooms may evoke signs of allergy, including "an erythematous, micro-papular, streaky, extremely pruriginous rash" that occurs all over the body including face and scalp, appearing about 48 hours after consumption and disappearing after several days. This effect, presumably caused by the polysaccharide lentinan, is known in Asia but is unfamiliar to Europeans.[18] Although it may occur in roughly 2% of the population, thorough cooking may eliminate allergenicity.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Shiitake Mushroom". 
  2. ^ a b Vane, C. H., et al. (2003). "Biodegradation of Oak (Quercus alba) Wood during Growth of the Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes):  A Molecular Approach." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 51(4): 947-956.
  3. ^ a b c Vane, C. H. (2003). "Monitoring Decay of Black Gum Wood (Nyssa sylvatica) During Growth of the Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes) Using Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Spectroscopy." Applied Spectroscopy 57(5): 514-517.
  4. ^ Stamets 2000, p. 260
  5. ^ Kazuko E. (2006). The Complete Book of Japanese Cooking. London, UK: Hermes House. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-681-28004-5. 
  6. ^ Ciesla WM. (2002). Non-wood forest products from temperate broad-leaved trees. Food & Agriculture Org. p. 89. ISBN 92-5-104855-X. 
  7. ^ a b Leatham GF (1982). "Cultivation of shiitake, the Japanese forest mushroom, on logs: a potential industry for the United States". Forest Products J (Forest Products Research Society) 32 (8): 29–35. 
  8. ^ Mushrooms and vitamin D
  9. ^ Lee GS, Byun HS, Yoon KH, Lee JS, Choi KC, Jeung EB (March 2009). "Dietary calcium and vitamin D2 supplementation with enhanced Lentinula edodes improves osteoporosis-like symptoms and induces duodenal and renal active calcium transport gene expression in mice". Eur J Nutr 48 (2): 75–83. doi:10.1007/s00394-008-0763-2. PMID 19093162. 
  10. ^ Ko JA, Lee BH, Lee JS, Park HJ. (April 2008). "Effect of UV-B exposure on the concentration of vitamin D2 in sliced shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes) and white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus).". J Agric Food Chem. 50 (10): 3671–3674. doi:10.1021/jf073398s. 
  11. ^ Nakano H, Namatame K, Nemoto H, Motohashi H, Nishiyama K, Kumada K. (1999). "A multi-institutional prospective study of lentinan in advanced gastric cancer patients with unresectable and recurrent diseases: effect on prolongation of survival and improvement of quality of life. Kanagawa Lentinan Research Group". Hepato-gastroenterology 46 (28): 2662–8. PMID 10522061. 
  12. ^ Oba K, Kobayashi M, Matsui T, Kodera Y, Sakamoto J. (2009). "Individual patient based meta-analysis of lentinan for unresectable/recurrent gastric cancer". Anticancer Research 29 (7): 2739–45. PMID 19596954. 
  13. ^ Bisen PS, Baghel RK, Sanodiya BS, Thakur GS, Prasad GB. (2010). "Lentinus edodes: a macrofungus with pharmacological activities". Current Medicinal Chemistry 17 (22): 2419–30. doi:10.2174/092986710791698495. PMID 20491636. 
  14. ^ Hyodo I, Amano N, Eguchi K. (2005). "Nationwide survey on complementary and alternative medicine in cancer patients in Japan". Journal of Clinical Oncology 23 (12): 2645–54. doi:10.1200/JCO.2005.04.126. PMID 15728227. 
  15. ^ Mach CM, Fugii H, Wakame K, Smith J. (2008). "Evaluation of active hexose correlated compound hepatic metabolism and potential for drug interactions with chemotherapy agents". Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology 6 (3): 105–9. PMID 19087767. 
  16. ^ a b c Shah SK, Walker PA, Moore-Olufemi SD, Sundaresan A, Kulkarni AD, Andrassy RJ. (2011). "An evidence-based review of a Lentinula edodes mushroom extract as complementary therapy in the surgical oncology patient". Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 35 (4): 449–58. doi:10.1177/0148607110380684. 
  17. ^ Terakawa N, Matsui Y, Satoi S. (2008). "Immunological effect of active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) in healthy volunteers: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial". Nutrition and Cancer 60 (5): 643–51. doi:10.1080/01635580801993280. PMID 18791928. 
  18. ^ Hérault M, Waton J, Bursztejn AC, Schmutz JL, Barbaud A. (2010). "[Shiitake dermatitis now occurs in France]". Annales de dermatologie et de vénéréologie 137 (4): 290–3. doi:10.1016/j.annder.2010.02.007. PMID 20417363. 

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Cited literature[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Journal articles

External links[edit]