Grifola frondosa aka Hen of the Woods or Maitake

by | Sep 28, 2018 | Foraging

If smelling of mice, yes mice, looking like a pissed off hen, and being a parasite turns you off then you’re missing out. Not only is this fungus the true harbinger of fall but it is an anti-carcinogenic powerhouse.

In a 2003 study published by the National Institute of Health an extraction made from G. frondosa called D-Fraction ‘may have the potential to decrease the size of lung, liver, and breast tumors in cancer patients.’. Damn, it’s delicious and good for you!

How to Identify

G. frondosa is one of my favorite fungi and I readily await its arrival every year. In good years I’ve harvested well over 100lbs. Look for rosettes of smoky grey to whitish-grey fungi growing at the base of hardwoods, particularly oak. The caps resemble tiny shelves and grow from a dense, branched central stalk. Under each cap you’ll find white to cream pores. These pores are where the spores (seeds) are released from. The spore print is white. G. frondosa has an aroma that many guides state smells like mice (not their poop, their bodies) and doesn’t change colors when damaged. To make this fungus even more awesome you’ll be thrilled to know that it’ll reappear for numerous years in the same spot. Care should be taken not to damage the sclerotium, a dense root-like structure. If you do you run a high risk of killing the fungus.

Grifola frondosa

How to Cook

G. frondosa dries well, is great roasted, braised, or even canned (please note that the USDA has NOT established safe canning guidelines for wild mushrooms). Our favorite way to cook this fungus at Larder is grilled over our wood burning fires. Once you eat it prepared this way you’ll be convinced; the edges char and the caps crisp up. It’s nothing shy of an orgasmic satiation.


  1. Gordon Sachtjen


    I found your blog because you mentioned ‘poop’ and Grifola Frondosa in the same essay.

    Have you sensed any change in the odor that created when you visit a restroom AFTER you have consumed a significant amount of Maitake over the course of one or more days?

    • Curious

      I have! It smells so strongly of maitake, and I wondered if you are experiencing some th ing similar. It smells more acidic than usual, if that makes sense?


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