Reishi is one of the worlds most popular and best-known medicinal mushrooms. It has a long history of usage, typically used making tea or tincture. People take Reishi to promote vitality, immune protection, and general well-being.
When grown for medicinal purposes, Reishi is usually relatively small — perhaps as big as a dinner plate. But it is possible to grow them much larger, when done properly.
We were recently fortunate to get our hands on a giant reishi mushroom. After seeing a picture of it on Instagram, we got so many questions we decided to compile this post and copy a video below that highlights it in hopes to answer all the questions you may have.
What The Heck Is That Thing?!
As I mentioned earlier, it is the big fruiting body of a reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum. Reishi is one of the best known and commonly used medicinal mushrooms in the world, thought to be used for more than 2000 years. Reishi has a hard, woody texture, and extracts of this mushroom taste extremely bitter.
As you can see, Reishi has a very glossy look to it — but this does not mean that it is been varnished or painted. Reishi is actually natural and glossy in that way.
In fact, Ganoderma is named after the Latin words gano, meaning shiny or brilliant, and derm, meaning skin. In some guides, reishi is called a “shiny thorn,” and if you found real ganoderma lucidum in the wild, it would shine like this.
Of course, Reishis colors and “shininess” may differ from species to species, and not every species of Ganoderma has a varnished appearance. For instance, the ganoderma applanatum, common in where I am from in Alberta (also known as Artists Conk), is not glossy at all.
How Much Did The Giant Reishi Mushroom Weigh?
This mushroom is massive, and it sure looks weighty. But because it is dried, it is actually quite light, coming in at a little under 11-1/2 pounds. Reishi does not have quite the same amount of water content as some other mushrooms, but in its fresh state, this specimen will probably be more than 50 pounds.
Was It Grown in The Wild?
Many have asked whether this is a wild mushroom — and, if it is, why we are taking it. Why did not we just leave it where it is and let nature do her thing?
Although true, reishi does indeed grow wild, this particular sample was cultured. I did not grow it myself, however — it came from south-east China, where reishi has had a long history of cultivation. The weather is hot, humid, and it is simply ideal to grow high-quality Reishi. There is also the infrastructure, community, and know-how to farm Reishi in Southeast China, where many small- and mid-sized family farms are operating and have been operating for generations.
How Was it Cultivated?
I am honestly not sure how these massive specimens are grown, or what makes them different than your average reishi grown outdoors. When I first saw them, they were in a market selling various dried mushrooms. Generally, the regular reishi are grown on wooden planks, small greenhouses, and in shady houses. In some farms, they will even collect spores for medicinal purposes, then harvest the mushrooms when they are around the size of a dinner plate.
Keep in mind, that this Reishi is technically not one big, monolithic fruiting body, although it looks that way. When you look down, you will see it is more than a dozen or so fruiting bodies, all designed to grow together. However this was done, it is pretty obvious that these mushrooms were grown that big by highly skilled farmers, intentionally.
As mentioned earlier, reishi is a potent medicinal mushroom. The most common way of using Reishi is making hot water extracts as a tea. You can also do an alcohol extraction to extract non-watersoluble compounds.
That is, this particular Reishi is not going to be used for medicine. It is just too special, and I am planning on holding onto it for good.
Some folks had great suggestions, such as making it into a desk, casting it into resin, or even adding mechanicals and making it into a watch (which would be really cool!). Some people also suggested returning it to the wild — but, again, this Reishi is farmed, not wildcrafted, so it would just be throwing it out.
For this Reishi, I am simply going to put it up on my wall, so that I can keep enjoying it in all of its glory!. A desk or a clock would have been nice, but I wanted to keep it as close to the way it looks naturally. It is perfect just the way it is!