Grifola frondosa

Brief Introduction of Hen of Woods (Maitake)

1. Brief Introduction of Hen of Woods

Hen of Woods (Griflola frondosa) also names Huishuhua in China. It is a kind of rare medical and edible fungus. Hen of woods grow around chestnut trees in summer and autumn. It belongs to Grifola, Polyporaceae, Aphyllophorales, Holobasidiomycetidae, Heterobasidiomycetes, Basidiomycotina.

2. The shape of Hen of woods’ fruit body

The stipes are overlapped the pilei of spoon shapes, fan shapes or tongue shapes. Pilei are about 27 cm wide, and appear from gray to light brown. The meat of Hen of woods is white which is 1-3cm thick. There are apertures spreading in the meat of Hen of woods and the aperture mouths of the bores are polygonal growing with cilia or villi. After growing ripe, the nozzles will become smooth and have lines entering them.

3. Biology of Hen of woods

3.1 Growing Characteristics

Hen of woods is a kind of wood rotting fungus of medium temperature, aerobic and light favoring. In summer and autumn seasons, they will grows on the roots or stubs of roburs, chestnut trees etc., which are cupule trees species or broadleaf trees species. And they will molder the heartwoods of the trees and turn them to white. In areas of 800 m above sea level and on day’s o when there is daily waterfall of 200 mm, hen of woods will have better growths. In poor growing conditions, hen of woods will form nucleuses, which have irregular shapes. The surfaces of nucleuses will be lumpy, brown and solid. And the slopes are 3-5 cm thick, brown and are lignified. The inside will be white. Organic nitrogen will be the best nitrogen source for the growth of mycelia and nitrogen of nitryl is useless. We can use sawdust, cotton seed nut, bagasse, corn powder, rice straw, soybean powder and so on to increase the carbon supply in the growing process of hen of woods. Vitamin B1 is the necessary nutrition helpful in the growing process.

3.2 Temperatures

The growth temperature range is 5-37°C. The best temperature is 21-27°C. The temperature of anlage decomposing is 10-16°C. The temperature fruit body developing is 13-28°C. mycelia are resistant to high temperature, and under 32°C, mycelia can grow slowly. The temperature range of the developing of fruit body is 10-27°C, and the best is 15-20°C. But it defers from one another of the funguses.

3.3 Moisture and Humidity

In the growth process of funguses, the moisture rate of substrates should be 60%-63%. With too low moisture rate, the flowers’ growth will be irregular. If too high, on the other hand, mycelia will excrete much yellow water which will have bad effects on the whole growth. In the funguses growing period of time, the air humidity should be kept around 90%. If the humidity is too low, fruit body will wilt. If too high, say more than 95% funguses may rot or get infected because of the dropping of the oxygen.

3.4 Airing and illumination

Hen of woods is one of the most aerobic edible funguses. Both in the growing process of mycelia and fruiting,sufficient oxygen is needed. Poor airing or too much carbon dioxide concentration will result in weak mycelia, few branches, slow growth of fruit body, no division of fruit body, difficult division of pileus, or anomalies, and being easily infected. So the airing and ventilation of incubating room is very important. In the growing process of fruit body, we should carefully balance airing and moisture maintaining. It is one of the important techniques in the management. The growing process of mycelia of hen of woods needs no lights. Forming of anlage needs gentle lights to motivate. Phase of fruiting needs some sun lighting to enhance luster and reduce abnormalities.

3.5. pH Value

Hen of woods should grow in acid environment. The pH value of mycelia should be 4.8-5.5. And in the growth process of fruit body, the pH value should be 4.0. When mixing the nourishment, make the pH value of 6.0, descending as the time passes, which will be good for the growth.

4. The Planting of Hen of woods.

There are two ways to plant hen of woods, establishment planting and natural planting. And the natural planting way can be further divided to fungus beds planting and logs planting. The fungus beds planting are to bury the full-grown funguses’ beds in the soil. After entering the autumn, they can be collected. The beds are always the abandoned beds on which have grown with funguses once in the greenhouse. Logs planting are to pack the battens, wood blocks in bags and then disinfect, inoculate, foster and after mycelia grow fully cover them with a slight layer of soil. The thalli of products from natural planting are thicker and sturdier. And the luster of fruit body’s surface is deeper and the aroma is stronger.

5. Some special points of the planting management.

5.1 Preparation of spawns

The kinds and quality of the spawns are decisive to the quantity and quality of hen of woods. Those inferior spawns may directly lead to no fruit body growth. So we must use spawns, which have been tested by production, having strong fastness, fast growth and high output. Not matter the spawns are exotic or self-made; they should experience the trial production before they are wildly used.

The proper substrate should be PDA complete substrate or bran substrate. And the grains substrate is workable. These three kinds of substrate can be used in the separation and expansion of the spawns. The separating pare should be the joining part of the pileus and stipe. To separate the plants. We should choose those well-grown plants. Separation and expansion should both be operated in axenic boxes.

The common recipes of the hen of woods’ substrate are the following two:


Chestnut wood bits 80%, wheat bran 8%, gypsum 1%, sugar 1%, sand or soil 10%.


Cottonseed shell 80%, bran 8%, gypsum 1%, sugar 1%, and or soil 10%.

Mix the substrate with water. Ant the humidity should be 60%. After that fill them in jars, disinfect and inoculate. Keep them in the temperature of 25°C-26°C for fostering. After about 30 days, the mycelia can grow to fill the jars. And after quality examining, can only the strong and axenic mycelia be used.

5.2. The making of fungus bags.


  1. substrate confection
  2. bagging
  3. inoculation
  4. incubating.

5.2.1. Substrate recipe

Chestnut wood bits 70%, bran 20%, raw soil 8%, gypsum 1%, sugar 1%;

Chestnut wood bits 50%, cottonseed shell 40%, raw soil 8%, gypsum 1%, sugar 1%, and adding 105%~110% of water to make the water rate of 55%~57%.

If the water rate is too high, the fruit body will release a lot of brown liquid when it is forming. And fruit body is inclined to rot.

5.2.2. Bagging

The bags should be polyethylene bags or high-density polyethylene bags of 17 cm × 30cm, 0.5-0.6 mm thick. Fill the bags with substrate up to 15 cm, and cover the bag mouths with rings having a diameter of 3 cm and the height of 3 cm. And stuff the bag mouths with cotton plugs and cover them with waterproof paper. Fasten the bag mouths with plastic rings or threads, and then conduct disinfections.

5.2.3. Sterilization

Under normal pressure, keep them under the temperature of 100°C for 8-9 hr, or, under high pressure, for 1.5 hr.

5.2.4. Inoculation

Refer to the above. Choose good species, axenic operation.

5.2.5. Mycelia incubating

Keep the indoor temperature at 25°C-28°C, humidity at 70%. Avoid form sunlight. Ventilate 1-2 times a day. After 15 days, direct scattered light, improve ventilation and keep the temperature at 22°C-25°C. After 30 days, mycelia grow to the bottom of bags. The tops of mycelia form the fungus skins, getting form white to keep gray, and begin to hunch. Those are anlages. Now it is time to getting out the cymedia.

5.3. Planting management

There are two managements for hen of woods stay of proceedings including bag and imitate wildness. Stay of proceedings by bags: Move out the bacterial bags with anlages to the room, holding the temperature from 20°C to 22°C, air humidity from 85% to 90%, light from 200 to 500 Lx. Eliminate loop and cotton plug after 3 to 5 days, cover papers with water on the bag gob and erected them to the bedstead. Draught two to three times everyday, one hour every time. Pick them when pileus outspread fully and mushroom~hore elongate after 20 to 25 days. While picking, we cut down the full cluster mushroom with knife. It can be harvest 2 to 3 times and the biology efficiency can reach 30% to 40%. Stay of proceedings by imitates wildness: Planting bacteria bag use timber scraps as culture medium. Remove the plastic bag when mycelium is pocketful. Dispose the bacterium sticks to farmland and leave suitable clearance among bacterium sticks. Then fill soils around bacterium sticks gaps and cover 1 to 2 cm dust layer on the surface. It is one kind of earth up planting and the biology efficiency reach 100% to 120%. It is far overmatch to the former, so we describe it in brief.

5.3.1 Piling bags time

The best time for hen of woods planted in Tang Mountain is from November to April next year. Because in this stage other bacteria in air and soil, disease insect are inactive and they do not violate mycelia. But mycelia of hen of woods are able to bear low temperature, mycelia join tightly, grow very good .So this time is benefit for mycelia to absorb nutrition. Although the development is lower in low temperature, mushroom appears early, output is high and can accomplish 80% of output before rainy season. And hen of woods planted after other bacteria easily infect late April because the air temperature is high. The fruit body grows quickly, singletree is small, general output is low and is easily harmed by high temperature and rainstorm.

5.3.2 Method of piling bags

Field Select places which are leeward, exposed to the sun, high hypsography, dry, no-seeper, close to fountain, convenient irrigation and drainage and far away from the water closet or domestic animal loop. Dig terra hole it requests east to west direction. We dig holes length 45-55 cm, longth 2.5-3.0 cm, depth 25 cm and the distance between two terra holes is 60-80 cm.Then build barrel-drains among them which are convenient for hoof , management and drainage. Preparation before planting Irrigate after terra channels are dug to keep humidity. After water seeps out, we can sprinkle a layer of calcareousness to channel bottom and sides in order to enhance calcium and sterilization. Then scatter a lamella of trichlorfon powder and spread a little surface soil in channel bottom.

Leave out bags While plastic bags are shuck out of the bags with mycelium, horizon them in range and erect them in row around the channel. It requests that bacterium sticks must get close and among 4 bags demand an interspace. At the same time, by pushing aside or pillowing circle dust around the channel bottom we can flat the surface of bacterium sticks arranged in channel. In this way arrange 4-5 row bags.

Fill the gaps Fill the soil among the bacterium sticks and among bacterium and channel sides to over 1 cm. Irrigate Put out water to tunnel to push down the soil, hold flat the spacing or concave tunnel with wet soil and keep the topsoil 1-2 cm.

Bundle Wrap around the tunnel tightly with plastic membrane or nylon sack to avoid fall off the soil aside the tunnel. Spread a lay of membrane in farmland for bags leaved out bacterium before 2 months and cover 5-7 cm soil layer. Until middle April release films in farmland and soil on the surface and prepare for exceeding mushroom management.

Build shade. Establish two rails on north and middle of the tunnel which middle rail is apart from the floor 15cm and north one 25 cm , build plastic fabric and grass between the rails holding leaning lower south and higher north. Extend the plastic fabric to floor until April and press it with soil leaving exhaust holes between east and west.

Spread gravels. Spread gravels for bacterium bags in winter after eliminating surface soil and membrane. Spread a lamella smooth gravels diametric is 1.5-2.5 cm.

5.3.3 Administer of coming out mushroom

Moisture management. The temperature reach to over 15°C on late April. Irrigate once keeping liquid overflow farmland to 2 cm, spray water on morning, afternoon and evening everyday. Pay attention to moisture administration and do the best to spray water to space. According to rainfall, in drought irrigate once every other 5-7days and irrigate fewer when rain. Keep far away from the anlage to avoid rush out water on the anlage when anlage of hen of woods appear. When hen of woods grow out we may spray water on the mushroom to hasten mushroom grow. Do not spray on the base after hen of woods is harvest. Spray water to grass and space outside the tunnel in high temperature season to lower the temperature and increase moisture. In low temperature season, it is best to use warm water which is solarized in sun.

Temperature management. The main attention must paid to is holding temperature on late April and early May, cover it with grass and plastic fabric or put the plastic fabric above the grass at night, extend the time of the sunlight vertical shoot on the farmland surface when the sunlight is sufficient. During late June to August, the high temperature and hot season, lower the temperature foremost, heighten the pitch of shade by lower temperature and mask of shade. Uncover the plastic fabric or grass to lead to grow at night, cover them in the daytime when the temperature is high.

Aerate management. Roll up and fold the plastic film above the grass in the North after middle April, keep airiness north for a long time, uncover the grass and keep airiness for 1-2 hr. Fewer airiness when the temperature is low and gale weather, more airiness when the temperature is high and overcast, rainy weather. Increase airiness suitably before and after irrigating morning and evening. Correspond airiness with heat preservention, humidity defend and light prevention. Never stuffiness and no excessive aeration. It need fewer airiness and more humidity during the differentiation of mushroom bud. It need more aeration and more vaporization during the growth of mushroom bud.

Illumination management. Keep stabile dispersion light convenient for hen of woods growth by building lean frame and shine 1-2 hours to increase feeble vertical light every day and night. It is best not to use over thick grass in production to keep sparse vertical light. Avoid strong vertical light in coming out mushroom stage. Never remove the cover substances for the convenient of keeping temperature and manipulation and lead to strong light.

Correspondent management among light, temperature, humidity and air. Factors such as light, temperature, humidity and air must be harmonized. Catch the main side in different season; stage, weather and planting condition and never neglect even depart the terminal of accidental. It also needs create other factors’ requirement by general picture of any factor. For example, increase airiness in rainy weather to attain wet condition for mushroom’ coming out, increase shade to decrease the high temperature’s hurt in draught weather, expose to dry in the sun every morning and evening correspondent with airiness and spray or harvest mushroom temporally.

Malformations of hen of woods are due to inconsistent environment. For example: etiolating, no differentiation and decline of anlage is due to large airiness and low humidity. Small mushroom is due to small airiness and less light. Lid of mushroom form like leafleting, antler mushroom and high foot mushroom lately differentiation are caused because of no smooth airiness and excessive humidity. Yellow tumescence mushroom is caused by high humidity, thin airiness or high temperature. Thin illumination leads to white mushroom. Burnt mushroom is caused by strong light and low humidity. Deep earth up, more irrigation cause low temperature, slow growth and at last prevents analge growing. Thin mushroom is due to high temperature, high humidity, bad airiness and mushroom’s unable vaporization. Sink of medium is due to high temperature, bad airiness leading to death of mycelium.

To sum up, the precondition of high production of is harmony the relation among light, temperature, humidity and air and creation conditions appropriate for growth.

6.Prevention and cure of plant diseases and insect pests

Because stage of hen of woods’s coming out is so long especially impenetrate through the summer, invasion of disease and pests happen often. At the same time, we usually use emergency prevention and cure measures such as:


Excavate the infected part with spade and scatter a few whitewash over the surface when discover other bacteria infect mushroom. Then add fresh wet soil, hold flat the farmland’s surface. If there are many parts infected, we can pour 5% plant ash on the surface.


When we find pests, spray trichlorfon to position without mushroom. Kill pests with low noxious and high effect pesticides avoiding remnant toxin and hurt.


Spray the surface with 1% bleaching powder to restrain bacteria when slime bacteria appear in high temperature season during July and August.

7. Harvest and store

7.1 time to harvest of hen of woods

Time from hen of woods present of bud to harvest relates with the temperature of fresh body growth. In general , it need 13-16 days if the temperature is between 23-28°C and it needs 16-25 days if temperature is 22-14°C.

7.2 symbol of harvest for hen of woods


If sun light is sufficient, color of young hen of woods is gray-black, a white border named growth plot appears beside the mushroom lid after it outgrows. Along with growth of mushroom lid, it changes from dark-gray to snuff color, color of white border darkles and brink curls entad. It is time to harvest.


Otherwise if it is short of sun light, color of hen of woods is white and have indistinct growth plot. When the mushroom lid is larger we can see whether excessive-hole phenomena appears. If mushroom hole comes out , it is time for harvest. If the mushroom tube is too long it shows out hen of woods have been aging. Aging hen of woods is low in quality and effect coming out of next batch, so we must harvest in time.

7.3 Harvest method of hen of woods

Extend two hands and insert them under fresh bodies, energize a bit around both sides of foot and lean to a direction, then the mushroom foot breaks. Pay attention not to injure mushroom foots some of which can outgrow several hen of woods. Check out all fragments and weeds or else, irrigate after 1-2 days keeping conditions for coming out of mushroom, then leave out the mushroom after 20-40 days. After removing soil and sand around the root and weeds on the fresh body we can sell the mushroom.

7.4 Store of hen of woods

Fresh should be laid aside airtight boxes. Every hen of woods may be laid on monolayer and avoid leading extrusion because of over highness. If it is needed to lie densely, lid of the mushroom must be adown and root of mushroom be up. The suitable temperature of store for hen of woods is 4-10°C.If the temperature is too high, fresh mushroom continue to grow and become aging. Transportation for fresh hen of woods mostly needs placidity. Place every box in monolayer or double deck to avoid extrusion, collision and bump. Dry and salting are main process methods for hen of woods.

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