(Berk.) Pegler (1976)
|gills on hymenium|
|cap is convex|
|hymenium is free|
|stipe is bare|
spore print is whiteto buff
|ecology is saprotrophic|
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.
Taxonomy and naming
The fungus was first described scientifically as Agaricus edodes by Miles Joseph Berkeley in 1877. It was placed in the genus Lentinula by David Pegler in 1976. The fungus has acquired an extensive synonymy in its taxonomic history:
- Agaricus edodes Berk. (1878)
- Armillaria edodes (Berk.) Sacc. (1887)
- Mastoleucomyces edodes (Berk.) Kuntze (1891)
- Cortinellus edodes (Berk.) S.Ito & S.Imai (1938)
- Lentinus edodes (Berk.) Singer (1941)
- Collybia shiitake J.Schröt. (1886)
- Lepiota shiitake (J.Schröt.) Nobuj. Tanaka (1889)
- Cortinellus shiitake (J.Schröt.) Henn. (1899)
- Tricholoma shiitake (J.Schröt.) Lloyd (1918)
- Lentinus shiitake (J.Schröt.) Singer (1936)
- Lentinus tonkinensis Pat. (1890)
- Lentinus mellianus Lohwag (1918)
The mushroom's Japanese name shiitake listen (help·info) (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". The specific epithet edodes is derived from the Latin word for "edible".
Habitat and distribution
Shiitake mushrooms grow in groups on the decaying wood of deciduous trees, particularly shii, chestnut, oak, maple, beech, sweetgum, poplar, hornbeam, ironwood, mulberry, and chinquapin. Its natural distribution includes warm and moist climates in southeast Asia.
The earliest written record of shiitake cultivation is seen in the Records of Long Quan County (龍泉縣志) compiled by He Zhan (何澹) in AD 1209 during the Southern Song Dynasty. The 185-word description of shiitake cultivation from that literature was later crossed-referenced many times and eventually adapted in a book by a Japanese horticulturist (佐滕成裕) in AD 1796, the first book on shiitake cultivation in Japan.
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.
Shiitake mushrooms are now widely cultivated all over the world, and contribute about 25% of total yearly production of mushrooms. Commercially, shiitake mushrooms are typically grown in conditions similar to their natural environment on either artificial substrate or hardwood logs, such as oak.
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.
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 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. Russia produces and consumes large amounts of them, mostly sold pickled; and the shiitake is slowly making its way into western cuisine. 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.
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.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,238 kJ (296 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||11.5 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Basic research is ongoing to assess whether consumption of shiitake mushrooms affects the immune system, possesses antibacterial properties, reduces platelet aggregation, or possesses other anti-disease properties. However, none of these possible effects has been proven with sufficient human research.
Rarely, consumption of raw or slightly cooked shiitake mushrooms may cause an allergic reaction called "shiitake dermatitis", including an erythematous, micro-papular, streaky pruriginous rash that occurs all over the body including face and scalp, appearing about 24 hours after consumption, possibly worsening by sun exposure and disappearing after 3 to 21 days. This effect, presumably caused by the polysaccharide, lentinan, is more common in Asia but may be growing in occurrence in Europe as shiitake consumption increases. Thorough cooking may eliminate the allergenicity.
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- Tsuji, Shizuo (1980). Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. New York: Kodansha International/USA.
- Journal articles
- Lindequist, U.; Niedermeyer, T.H.J. ; Jülich, W.D. (2005). "The pharmacological potential of mushrooms". Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2 (3): 285–99. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh107. PMC 1193547. PMID 16136207.
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