Ganoderma Mushroom (Reishi) Identification

December 09, 2019, at 11:58 AM by Geoffrey? in Mushrooms, Reishi (0 comments)

Reishi Identification

Reishi Pic

I get a lot of questions, and feel like I am answering the same question over and over again. So, I decided to make a resource for people to come to, so they can USE THEIR WITS, and decipher on their own, what kind of mushroom they have.

Background information:

Korea: YoungJi Mushroom
China: LingZhi Mushroom

Reishi Description:

The Reishi mushroom is in the polypore family, and there are many different shapes, colors, and growth patterns. That being said, they are one of the easiest to identify. Here is the checklist and description of each important factor:

Growth Substrate:

Checklist Item 1

Growing on a Hardwood Tree or Root Structure of a Hardwood Tree.
Good Sign it may be a Ganoderma.

Reishi always grow on some kind of hardwood. They were traditionally grown and found on Plum Trees, but now you can find them on most any type of hardwood tree. In Texas, they are typically found on Oak, Birch, Sweetgum (Those are the common ones where I live).

Reishi oak

Occassionally, the reishi mushroom appears to be growing straight out of the ground. I can assure you, that if it is in the Ganoderma Species of Fungi, it is growing off of the roots of a nearby hardwood tree.Reishi are never found on Pine Trees.

Note: If you found a red polypore mushroom on a pine tree, or growing from the roots of a pine tree, it is not a Ganoderma Mushroom.

Scratch Test:

Checklist Item 2

If the Scratch Test is successful (a brown streak is visible immediately), then it may be a Reishi Mushroom

If you have checked both of these items, then you have a high probability of having a Reishi Mushroom.

Coming from a background in Geology, and rock / mineral identification, I have adapted some of the techniques used for identifying rocks/minerals to Mushroom Identification. The Reishi Mushroom has also been called the “Artist Conch”, as it was used as a form of art. How was this done? Well, the Reishi Mushroom has a brown spore print, and the underside is white while it is still young and growing. So, if you want to do a quick test, take your fingernail, a knife, or a near by rock, and scratch the bottom of your mushroom. You should see a brown wake left where you scratched it.

Note: All Ganoderma Mushrooms will leave a brown streak
Checklist 2 Item:
If the Scratch Test is successful (a brown streak is visible immediately), then it may be a Reishi Mushroom.
PS. The Scratch Test only works on younger Reishi Mushrooms, because when they begin to drop spores, the bottom of the mushroom will turn brown.

Other Things of note:

young reishi

Young Reishi Mushrooms are typically a white color. The white color of the Reishi Mushroom is the growing edge of the mushroom. As it matures over time, the leading edge will stay white, and the rest of the cap will turn a different color (typically red, orange or purple). Occassionally, you will find a Golden Reishi, which is a golden/yellowish color.

golden reishigoldenreishi bottomgoldenreishi top

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Page last modified on September 17, 2020, at 08:56 AM