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Hericium coralloides
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Russulales
Family: Hericiaceae
Genus: Hericium
Pers. (1794)
Type species
Hericium coralloides
(Scop.) Pers. (1794)

See text

Hericium at the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw

Hericium is a genus of edible mushrooms in the family Hericiaceae. Species in this genus are white and fleshy and grow on dead or dying wood; fruiting bodies resemble a mass of fragile icicle-like spines that are suspended from either a branched supporting framework or from a tough, unbranched cushion of tissue. This distinctive structure has earned Hericium species a variety of common names—monkey's head, lion's mane, and bear's head are examples. Taxonomically, this genus was previously placed within the order Aphyllophorales, but recent molecular studies now place it in the Russulales.


Hericium means hedgehog in Latin.[1] See Wiktionary entries Hericium and ericius.

Hericium erinaceus, Lion's mane


The genus Hericium was originally described by Christian Hendrik Persoon in 1794. It was mentioned by Elias Magnus Fries in the Systema Mycologicum (1822); Fries considered it to be synonymous with the tribe Merisma of the genus Hydnum. In 1825 he recognized Hericium as a distinct genus, although not in the same sense as the genus would be known later.[2]


In 2004, the phylogenetic relationships of Hericium species were analysed by comparing the rDNA internal transcribed spacer sequences of H. abietis, H. alpestre, H. americanum, H. coralloides, H. erinaceum, H. erinaceus and H. laciniatum. This analysis separated H. erinaceum from the six other Hericium species, and showed that H. erinaceus, H. abietis, H. americanum, and H. coralloides are closely related each to other but genetically diverged from H. alpestre and H. laciniatum.[3] Molecular genetic markers have been developed that allow for quick and sensitive identification of Hericium species using the polymerase chain reaction.[4]

The family Hericiaceae, to which Hericium belongs, belongs to the russuloid clade of basidiomycetes, making it phylogenetically related to the Auriscalpiaceae, the Bondarzewiaceae, and the Echinodontiaceae.[5][6]


The fruit bodies typically have short stalks and are attached laterally to the host tree. Mature specimens are easily identified by drooping spines which hang down; the spines may be arranged in clusters or more usually, in rows. Positive identification of immature specimens can be more difficult as they often begin as a single clump, developing their branches as they age. They have no caps and contain spiny amyloid spores and numerous gloeopleurous hyphae filled with oil droplets.[7][8] The spores are spherical to ellipsoid, smooth or covered with very fine warts.[9]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Hericium species are found extensively in the northern parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia, often growing on old, fallen logs in dark and shaded areas of deciduous and Alpine forests.[10]


Hericium species are commonly found and consumed in North America and China.[citation needed] The species is readily cultivated.[10] Hericium is used in the folk medicine of China and Japan,[11] but there is no high-quality clinical research as of 2020 to indicate that it has any medicinal or biological properties. The genus Hericium produces the phytochemicals, erinacines and hericenones, which are cyathane metabolites under basic research.[12]


Image Scientific name Description Distribution
Hericium abietis Found on dead wood of conifers, especially fir and Douglas fir. North America
Hericium americanum ("Bear's-head tooth") Solitary or clustered on dead or living deciduous wood, rarely on conifers east of the Great Plains
Hericium bembedjaense[13] The only Hericium species that has pleurocystidia and grows in Central Africa Cameroon
Hericium bharengense[14] Sikkim Himalaya (India)
Hericium botryoides Found growing on Quercus myrsinifolia. Sapporo, Japan
Hericium cirrhatum ("Spine-face") This species' fruiting body is branched, with shell-shaped caps.[15] southern England
Hericium clathroides Europe
Hericium coralloides ("Comb tooth"; "coral spine fungus") Found on beech (Fagus sylvatica) and fir. Spores have dimensions of 3.5–5 by 3–4 μm.[16] Widely distributed in Europe
Hericium erinaceus ("Bearded tooth", "tree hedgehog", "monkeyhead") Found on living oak and beech trees.[16] North America, Europe and Asia
Hericium fimbriatum Pennsylvania, USA
Hericium fimbrillatum[17] East Asia
Hericium flagellum A European species, confirmed—using sexual incompatibility studies—to be a distinct species from H. coralloides in 1983. Found in montane areas, typically on newly fallen trunks and stumps of Fir (Abies species). Spores are 5–6.5 by 4.5–5.5 μm.[16][18] Slovenia
Hericium novae-zealandiae ("Pekepeke-Kiore") Found growing on rotten logs in native forest, traditional applications in rongoā herbal medicine[19][20] New Zealand
Hericium ptychogasteroides Observed growing on dead trunk of Quercus mongolica in Ussurisky Nature Reserve.[21] Russia
Hericium rajendrae[22] Himalayas
Hericium rajchenbergii Grows on dead stems of Lithraea molleoides Argentina[23]
Hericium yumthangense[24] Small rooting base, intricate three tier branching system, 8-13mm long spines India: Sikkim


  1. ^ Spore Print Archived 2011-10-09 at the Wayback Machine, Quarterly Newsletter of the Edmonton Mycological Society
  2. ^ Miller LW. (1933). "The genera of Hydnaceae". Mycologia. 25 (4): 286–302. doi:10.2307/3754097. JSTOR 3754097.
  3. ^ Park HK, Ko HG, Kim SH, Park WM (2004). "Molecular identification of Asian isolates of medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceum by phylogenetic analysis of nuclear ITS rDNA". Journal of Microbial Biotechnology. 14: 816–21.
  4. ^ Lu L, Li J, Cang Y (2002). "PCR-based sensitive detection of medicinal fungi Hericium species from ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences". Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 25 (8): 975–80. doi:10.1248/bpb.25.975. PMID 12186429.
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  7. ^ Volk T. "Hericium americanum, the pom pon mushroom, a.k.a. Lion's mane, the bear's head tooth fungus, monkey head, or for this month, the icicle mushroom". Fungus of the Month for January 2003. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
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  12. ^ Bing-Ji Ma; Jin-Wen Shen; Hai-You Yu; Yuan Ruan; Ting-Ting Wu; Xu Zhao (2010). "Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus". Mycology. 1 (2): 92–8. doi:10.1080/21501201003735556.
  13. ^ Jumbam, Blaise; Haelewaters, Danny; Koch, Rachel A.; Dentinger, Bryn T. M.; Henkel, Terry W.; Aime, M. Catherine (October 2019). "A new and unusual species of Hericium (Basidiomycota: Russulales, Hericiaceae) from the Dja Biosphere Reserve, Cameroon". Mycological Progress. 18 (10): 1253–1262. Bibcode:2019MycPr..18.1253J. doi:10.1007/s11557-019-01530-1. ISSN 1617-416X. S2CID 204942481.
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  17. ^ Sugawara, Ryo; Maekawa, Nitaro; Sotome, Kozue; Nakagiri, Akira; Endo, Naoki (2022). "Systematic revision of Hydnum species in Japan". Mycologia. 114 (2): 413–452. doi:10.1080/00275514.2021.2024407. ISSN 1557-2536. PMID 35394899. S2CID 248050053.
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  19. ^ Chen ZG, Bishop KS, Tanambell H, Buchanan P, Quek SY. Assessment of In Vitro Bioactivities of Polysaccharides Isolated from Hericium Novae-Zealandiae. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Jul 8;8(7):211. doi:10.3390/antiox8070211 PMID 31288400
  20. ^ Chen ZG , Bishop KS , Tanambell H , Buchanan P , Smith C , Quek SY . Characterization of the bioactivities of an ethanol extract and some of its constituents from the New Zealand native mushroom Hericium novae-zealandiae. Food Funct. 2019 Oct 16;10(10):6633-6643. doi:10.1039/c9fo01672d PMID 31555775
  21. ^ Бухарова, НВ; Змитрович, ИВ; Псурцева, НВ; Кияшко, АА; Волобуев, СВ. "Афиллофоровые грибы (Basidiomycota) заповедника Уссурийский(Приморский край, Дальний Восток России)}" (PDF). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ Singh, Upendra; Das, Kanad (2019-05-15). "Hericium rajendrae sp. nov. (Hericiaceae, Russulales): an edible mushroom from Indian Himalaya". Nova Hedwigia. 108 (3–4): 505–515. doi:10.1127/nova_hedwigia/2019/0527. ISSN 0029-5035. S2CID 108647438.
  23. ^ Hallenberg N; Nilsson RH; Robledo G (2012). "Species complexes in Hericium (Russulales, Agaricomycota) and a new species - Hericium rajchenbergii - from southern South America". Mycological Progress. 12 (2): 413–20. doi:10.1007/s11557-012-0848-4. hdl:11336/9772. S2CID 255314575.
  24. ^ Das K; Stalpers JA; Stielow JB (2014). "Two new species of hydnoid-fungi from India". IMA Fungus. 4 (2): 359–69. doi:10.5598/imafungus.2013.04.02.15. PMC 3905948. PMID 24563842. Open access icon

Further reading[edit]

  • Ginns, J. (1985). Hericium in North America: cultural characteristics and mating behavior. Canadian Journal of Botany 63: 1551–1563.
  • Harrison, K. A. (1973). The genus Hericium in North America. Michigan Botanist 12: 177–194.