Matsutake (Japanese: 松茸, pine mushroom, Tricholoma matsutake = syn. T. nauseosum) (in Chinese 'Song rong') is the common name for a highly sought-after mycorrhizalmushroom that grows in Asia, Europe, and North America. It is prized by the Japanese and Chinese for its distinct spicy-aromatic odor.
In 1999, N. Bergius and E. Danell reported that Swedish (Tricholoma nauseosum) and Japanese matsutake (T. matsutake) are the same species. The report led to increased import of matsutake from Northern Europe to Japan because of the comparable flavor and taste.
Though simple to harvest, Matsutake are hard to find, causing the price to be very high. Domestic production of matsutake in Japan has been sharply reduced over the last 50 years due to a pine nematodeBursaphelenchus xylophilus, and it has influenced the price a great deal. The annual harvest of matsutake in Japan is now less than 1,000 tons, and the Japanese mushroom supply is largely made up by imports from China, Korea, the North AmericanPacific Northwest (Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia), and Northern Europe (Sweden and Finland). The price for matsutake in the Japanese market is highly dependent on quality, availability, and origin. The Japanese matsutake at the beginning of the season, which is the highest grade, can go up to $2,000 per kilogram. In contrast, the average value for imported matsutake is about $90 per kilogram.