What Do Reishi Mushrooms Look Like?
Reishi may be one of the easiest mushrooms to identify, as they usually look pretty distinctive. If you see a shelf mushroom that has a deep red body, with colors lightening up to orange, yellow, and white towards the edges of the cap, you can rest assured you are looking at a Reishi. Reishi mushrooms are a species of shelf mushroom you may find growing horizontally from tree trunks. They have no obvious stems, unlike mushrooms growing from the ground. Older specimens can turn a brownish color, making them harder to identify.
However, their scalloped caps, with rings resembling trees at the top, are quite a good clue. There are no toxic mushrooms like Reishi mushrooms, so these are a good one to try for beginners too. The worst-case scenario is you will get a similar-looking mushroom that provides lots of additional fiber in your diet, but has no actual medicinal benefits.
Reishi Mushroom Look-alikes
Because all reishi mushrooms are often the same appearance and share similar health benefits, it does not provide significant value to know what particular species of reishi mushrooms you possess. As long as you can tell that it is a reishi mushroom, that is enough.
Unless you are studying them for scholarly purposes, you can use all the reishi mushrooms for their medicinal benefits. However, you will want to avoid any other mushrooms that just so happen to resemble reishi mushrooms. While there are no toxic looking-alikes to be concerned with while searching for reishi, you donat want to put in the effort of collecting and drying mushrooms that are non-medicinal, offering no health benefits.
It may appear a lot like a reishi, as it grows out in rings, with red in the middle and lightening up to white at the edges. You can tell a reishi apart from the red ribcage clefts by scratching its underside. A reishi mushrooms will bruise under the pores when scratched, while the red belted conk does not.
You can also make spore prints to tell them apart, if you are still not sure. A Red Belt Conk has a white or yellowish spore print, whereas Reishi mushrooms leave a darker, brownish spore print.
It is worth noting that the red belted conk has also been found to be of medicinal value, having been used by Native Americans in traditional times. So, even if you happen to pick it up and eat it, it still has some benefits.
To an untrained eye, it can be hard to distinguish even Reishi mushrooms from other bracket-shaped or polypore mushrooms growing on tree sides. The following sections should help you correctly identify reishi mushrooms. Of course, all of the mushrooms previously known as reishi are quite similar, but thankfully, they do not all grow next to one another.
G. lingzhi isn’t known from North America at all, and G. lucidum is found throughout western North America, obviously introduced, but in just a few small pockets. G. curtsii typically has a big stalk (off the side of the cap, as if it were the handle of a pan), whereas G. sessile is typically stalkless, but “usually” is an operative word; either can have a stalk, or both can be stalkless. The Redbelt Conk (fomitopsis pinicola) is not a ganoderma, but superficially looks very much like one, and also has a reddish top surface, but is wooden-textured, with no obvious bruises on the surface of the pores.