Lion’s Mane Mushroom Look Alikes

Lion's Mane Mushroom Look Alikes

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Look-Alikes

Lions mane mushrooms do not bear any toxic likenesses, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This is the biggest reason why these mushrooms are an excellent choice for beginning foragers: They are very easy to identify. That said, there are some other edible mushrooms you might mistake for Lions Mane if you are just starting out, so we wanted to talk about a couple lion’s mane mushroom look alikes.

The closest thing to looking like lions mane is a bears-head mushroom. The bears head is a member of the same family as the lions mane, producing swarthy, white fruits that closely resemble the lions mane mushrooms spines. The main difference between these two types of mushrooms is that the lions mane is rounder and bulbous, while the bears head is branchy.

Another key difference is that bears heads tend to grow on evergreens, particularly Douglas fir. Lions heads are most often found on dead or rotting deciduous hardwoods, like oaks and maples.

Bears-head mushrooms are often described as having a nutty, earthy flavor, with slight seafood notes. Lions mane mushrooms have a slightly stronger taste and odor of fish. Despite their similarity to the Bears Head, Lions Mane mushrooms are distinct and unique, easy to tell apart from even the Bears Heads by anyone with some foraging experience. Hunters of lions mane mushrooms only have to recognize this curiously unique mushroom for its shaggy mane, or its teeth that look like icicles, its fishy smell, and its deciduous hardwood habitat. If you are new to foraging mushrooms, you might have heard lions mane mushrooms are a great starter.

But if you have not seen one before, you are probably wondering how to identify the lions mane mushrooms. What are they supposed to look like?. Are any other mushrooms easy to mistake for Lions Mane?. In this article, we are going to answer all these questions.

How Do You Identify A Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

Lions Mane Mushrooms possess a few distinctive features. The first and most obvious is the lions mane-like, white, fuzzy appearance.

These globular, shamrock-shaped mushrooms are found growing in the dead or rotting hardwood trees during summer and fall. They will often grow a few feet above ground at the sides of these trees. These mushrooms may also be found in wounds of living trees as well as trees slowly dying.

They tend to return from the same areas over the years, although they can grow in different places in the same tree. Sometimes, you can even find them growing in dead logs.

Lions manes are found all over the northern hemisphere, growing in temperate forests and woodlands. These mushrooms are easily identified by their fuzzy appearance and their native habitat, but you can also tell by the scent. They smell relatively bland when compared to many mushrooms, but there is a distinct undercurrent of seafood in their scent.

What Does It Look Like?

The Lion Mane Mushroom looks like a MGM Lion Mane, much like how NBCs Peacock looks like a real Peacock. Lions Mane Mushrooms indeed do have a distinctive mane, though long, spiky white spines may also compare with teeth that look like icicles. This mane grows out of the globular-shaped mushroom.

Each spine, or tooth, is relatively short when the mushroom is young, but they can grow up to two inches long. A Lions Mane Mushroom is composed mostly of these manes — opening one exposes a relatively small, bulbous, tiny body. When fully grown and uncorrupted, each of these mushrooms can grow to nearly the size of a dinner plate.

This mushrooms mane, while usually white, may have yellowish to pinkish hues; indeed, some begin pinkish, then eventually turn white. And when the Lion Mane Mushroom has “lost its roar” and is past its prime, it will become completely yellow, eventually turning fading to an off-color orange. If you are a mushroom novice, the lions mane is a great mushroom to begin with, as it is highly distinctive and easily identified. Of course, if you have not seen one before, watching a identification video such as the one below can be helpful in getting a strong visual on how it looks.

What Does A Lion’s Mane Mushroom Smell Like?

Lions Mane Mushroom has a relatively mild flavor, with no consensus as to what it really smells like. Some people report that the supplements with Lions Mane mushrooms smell bitter — like a bitter chocolate scent. This is an indication of high extraction ratios–the higher concentrations of powdered mushrooms, the greater chocolate-like flavorings. However, lions mane harvested from the wild will rarely exhibit such a chocolate-like aroma.

Most foragers agree that when fresh from the wild, the mushrooms carry a slight fishy smell, suggesting crab cakes or lobster. Lions Mane Mushrooms are easily found in the wild, and they can even be grown at home, making this nutritious and medicinally-dense member of the mushroom family easily accessible and consumable. These mushrooms are noted for their ability to protect against dementia, anxiety, and depression, their soothing effects on neural damage, and their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties.

And did we mention that they are delicious. Maybe it is time for you to go for a walk in the dead tree forest, or consider growing a few of these tasty, nutritious mushrooms at home.

About the author

Bruce Wilson

I've studied Mycology and Forest Pathology and love creating content to help other learn more about my passion. Follow along as I continue to explore the amazing world of functional fungi!

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