What Is Bearded Tooth Fungus: Lion’s Mane Mushroom Facts And Info

What Is Bearded Tooth Fungus: Lion’s Mane Mushroom Facts And Info

By: Jackie Carroll

The bearded tooth mushroom, also known as lion’s mane, is a culinary delight. You can occasionally find it growing in shady forests, and it’s easy to cultivate at home. Read on to find out more about this tasty treat.

What is Bearded Tooth Fungus?

Bearded tooth is a mushroom that you can feel confident about collecting in the wild because it has no look-alikes, either poisonous or non. Although they aren’t common, you can sometimes find them in the fall in shady forests. The bearded tooth fungus habitat is the trunks of old beech or oak trees. The mushrooms grow in wounds in the tree trunk, and they are a sign that the tree has heart rot. You may also find bearded tooth growing on fallen or felled trees. When you find them, make a note of the tree and its location. The mushrooms come back in the same location year after year.

Bearded tooth, or lion’s mane, mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) has a distinctive appearance. It looks like a cascade of white icicles measuring between three and ten inches (7.6 and 25 cm.) wide. The individual “icicles” grow as much as 2.75 inches (6.9 cm.) long. These stemless mushrooms produce spores on small, white teeth close to the surface of the wood.

Bearded tooth mushrooms are white at first, and then turn yellow to brown as they age. You can collect them regardless of the color because the flesh remains firm and flavorful. While other mushrooms tend to grow around the base of a tree, bearded tooth often grows higher up, so you may miss them if you focus on the ground.

Growing Bearded Tooth Mushrooms

Kits to grow bearded tooth mushrooms are available online. There are two ways to go.

Spawn plugs are small wooden dowels containing the spawn. After you drill holes in a beech or oak logs, you pound the dowels into the holes. It can take several months, or even up to a year to get your first harvest from this method. The advantage is that you get a lot of mushrooms over a period of several years.

For quick results, you can buy kits already infused and ready to start producing. You may get your first mushrooms in as little as two weeks after initiating the kit. With good care, you can get several flushes of mushrooms from this type of kit, but they rarely last more than a couple of months.

This article was last updated on

Read more about Fungus & Lichen

Hericium Americanum: The Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus

Bear’s-head is part of a group of closely-related tooth fungi (that is, they release their spores from tooth-like or hair-like structures, rather than from gills) that have rather confusing names[i]. To begin with, they are sometimes all referred to as lion’s mane (a name that more properly refers to H. erinaceus only). Other writers simply refer to Hericium, without specifying which Hericium is meant.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that while Hericium americanum is the currently-accepted scientific name of the bear’s-head tooth, many people still know it by its former name, Hericium coralloides, a name now assigned to a different species, which used to be called Hericium ramosum.

Not surprisingly, some writers take the confusion one step more and refer to a mushroom as “H. americanum or H. ramosum.” What species they mean is not clear[ii].

But just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, this mushroom by whatever name is edible and at least reportedly has medicinal value.

My name is Austin Collins.

I've dedicated my life to Mushrooms.

I believe Mushrooms are the best kept secret when it comes to health and well being.

For that reason, I would like to share a company with you that in my opinion makes the best mushroom products on the market.

I take their products every day and they have helped me think better and have more energy. Give them a try.


It’s hard to miss the characteristic long white teeth of the Lion’s Mane mushroom. It tends to grow in a single clump of dangling spines . Although there are several look-alikes, they’re all in the same genus and safe to eat. Lion’s Mane has no toxic look-alikes, so it’s a great mushroom for beginning foragers.

In the wild, they fruit in late summer and early fall throughout Europe and North America. They can be found on dead and dying hardwood trees and lack some of the typical traits of a mushroom, with no stalk or cap. When young, the spines are pure white, but the mushroom fades to yellowish and then brown as it ages.

More on fungi

Wood Wise – fabulous fungi

Types of mushroom in the UK: common identification guide

Helen Keating • 31 Aug 2017

Foraging in October: which wild mushrooms can you eat?

Helen Keating • 29 Oct 2018

Wood Wise – life in deadwood

Keep in touch with the nature you love without having to leave the house.

The Woodland Trust is a charity registered in England and Wales (No. 294344) and in Scotland (No. SC038885). A non-profit-making company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 1982873.

Woodland Trust (Enterprises) Limited, registered in England (No. 2296645), is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Woodland Trust. Registered office: Kempton Way, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6LL.

The Woodland Trust and Woodland Trust Nature Detectives logos are registered trademarks. Images © protected Woodland Trust. VAT No. GB520 6111 04.


  • 1 History of mushroom use
  • 2 Production
  • 3 Culinary uses
    • 3.1 Commercially cultivated
    • 3.2 Commercially harvested wild edibles
    • 3.3 Other edible wild species
    • 3.4 Conditionally-edible species
  • 4 Nutrients
    • 4.1 Vitamin D
  • 5 Use in traditional medicine
  • 6 Safety concerns
  • 7 Gallery
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links

Mycophagy / m aɪ ˈ k ɒ f ə dʒ i / , the act of consuming mushrooms, dates back to ancient times. Edible mushroom species have been found in association with 13,000-year-old archaeological sites in Chile. Ötzi, the mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE in Europe, was found with two types of mushroom. The Chinese value mushrooms for supposed medicinal properties as well as for food. Ancient Romans and Greeks, particularly the upper classes, used mushrooms for culinary purposes. Food tasters were employed by Roman emperors to ensure that mushrooms were safe to eat. [8]

Mushroom and truffle production – 2019
Country (millions of tonnes)
China 8.94
Japan 0.47
United States 0.38
Poland 0.36
Netherlands 0.30
World 11.90
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations [9]

In 2019, world production of commercial mushrooms and recorded truffle collection reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization was 11.9 million tonnes, led by China with 75% of the total (table).

Commercially cultivated Edit

Mushroom cultivation has a long history, with over twenty species commercially cultivated. Mushrooms are cultivated in at least 60 countries. [10] A fraction of the many fungi consumed by humans are currently cultivated and sold commercially. Commercial cultivation is important ecologically, as there have been concerns of depletion of larger fungi such as chanterelles in Europe, possibly because the group has grown popular, yet remains a challenge to cultivate.

  • Agaricus bisporus dominates the edible mushroom market in North America and Europe, in several forms. It is an edible basidiomycete mushroom native to grasslands in Europe and North America. As it ages, this mushroom turns from small, white and smooth to large and light brown. In its youngest form, it is known as the 'common mushroom', 'button mushroom', 'cultivated mushroom', and 'champignon mushroom'. Its fully mature form is known as 'portobello'. Its semi-mature form is known variously as 'cremini', 'baby-bella', 'Swiss brown' mushroom, 'Roman brown' mushroom, 'Italian brown' mushroom, or 'chestnut' mushroom. [11][12][13][14]
  • Pleurotus species are commonly grown at industrial scale. [14]
  • Lentinula edodes, the Shiitake mushroom [14]
  • Auricularia auricula-judae, the Jew's ear, wood ear or jelly ear mushroom
  • Volvariella volvacea, the paddy straw mushroom or straw mushroom
  • Flammulina velutipes, the enoki mushroom, golden needle mushroom, seafood mushroom, lily mushroom, winter mushroom, velvet foot, velvet shank or velvet stem
  • Tremella fuciformis, the snow fungus, snow ear, silver ear fungus and white jelly mushroom
  • Hypsizygus tessellatus, aka Hypsizygus marmoreus, the beech mushroom, also known in its white and brown varieties as Bunapi-shimeji and Buna-shimeji, respectively
  • Stropharia rugosoannulata, the wine cap mushroom, burgundy mushroom, garden giant mushroom or king stropharia
  • Cyclocybe aegerita, the pioppino, velvet pioppini, poplar or black poplar mushroom
  • Hericium erinaceus, the lion's mane, monkey head, bearded tooth, satyr's beard, bearded hedgehog, or pom pom mushroom.
  • Phallus indusiatus, the bamboo mushrooms, bamboo pith, long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn or veiled lady mushroom.

Commercially harvested wild edibles Edit

Some species are difficult to cultivate others (particularly mycorrhizal species) have not yet been successfully cultivated. Some of these species are harvested from the wild, and can be found in markets. When in season they can be purchased fresh, and many species are sold dried as well. The following species are commonly harvested from the wild:

  • Boletus edulis or edible Boletus, native to Europe, known in Italian as fungo porcino (plural 'porcini') (pig mushroom), in German as Steinpilz (stone mushroom), in Russian as Russian: Белый гриб , tr. Bely grib (white mushroom), in Albanian as (wolf mushroom), in French as the cèpe and in the UK as the penny bun. It is also known as the king bolete, and is renowned for its delicious flavor. It is sought after worldwide, and can be found in a variety of culinary dishes.
  • Calbovista subsculpta commonly known as the sculptured giant puffball is a common puffball of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Coast ranges of western North America. The puffball is more or less round with a diameter of up to 15 cm (6 in), white becoming brownish in age, and covered with shallow pyramid-shaped plates or scales. It fruits singly or in groups along roads and in open woods at high elevations, from summer to autumn. It is considered a choice edible species while its interior flesh (the gleba) is still firm and white. As the puffball matures, its insides become dark brown and powdery from mature spores.
  • Calvatia gigantea the giant puffball. Giant puffballs are considered a choice edible species and are commonly found in meadows, fields, and deciduous forests usually in late summer and autumn. It is found in temperate areas throughout the world. [15] They can reach diameters up to 150 cm (60 in) and weights of 20 kg (45 lb). The inside of mature Giant puffballs is greenish brown, whereas the interior of immature puffballs is white. The large white mushrooms are edible when young. [16][17]
  • Cantharellus cibarius (the chanterelle), The yellow chanterelle is one of the best and most easily recognizable mushrooms, and can be found in Asia, Europe, North America and Australia. There are poisonous mushrooms which resemble it, though these can be confidently distinguished if one is familiar with the chanterelle's identifying features.
  • Craterellus tubaeformis, the tube chanterelle, yellowfoot chanterelle or yellow-leg
  • Clitocybe nuda, blewit (or blewitt)
  • Cortinarius caperatus, the Gypsy mushroom
  • Craterellus cornucopioides, Trompette de la mort (trumpet of death) or horn of plenty
  • Grifola frondosa, known in Japan as maitake (also "hen of the woods" or "sheep’s head"), a large, hearty mushroom commonly found on or near stumps and bases of oak trees, and believed to have Macrolepiota procera properties.
  • Gyromitra esculenta (the false morel) is prized by the Finns. This mushroom is deadly poisonous if eaten raw, but highly regarded when parboiled (see below).
  • Hericium erinaceus, a tooth fungus also called "lion's mane mushroom"
  • Hydnum repandum, sweet tooth fungus, hedgehog mushroom or hedgehog fungus, urchin of the woods
  • Lactarius deliciosus, saffron milk cap, consumed around the world and prized in Russia
  • Morchella species, (morel family) morels belong to the ascomycete grouping of fungi. They are usually found in open scrub, woodland or open ground in late spring. When collecting this fungus, care must be taken to distinguish it from the poisonous false morels, including Gyromitra esculenta. The morel must be cooked before eating.
    • Morchella conica var. deliciosa
    • Morchella esculenta var. rotunda
  • Pleurotus species are sometimes commercially harvested despite ease of cultivation.
  • Tricholoma matsutake, the matsutake, a mushroom highly prized in Japanese cuisine.
  • Tuber, species, (the truffle), Truffles have long eluded the modern techniques of domestication known as trufficulture. Although the field of trufficulture has greatly expanded since its inception in 1808, several species still remain uncultivated. Domesticated truffles include
    • Tuber aestivum, black summer truffle
    • Tuber borchii
    • Tuber brumale
    • Tuber indicum, Chinese black truffle
    • Tuber macrosporum, smooth black truffle
    • Tuber mesentericum, the Bagnoli truffle [18]

    Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve become fascinated by the different types of mushrooms and fungus growing in the New England forests where I backpack. I’m not interested in eating them or even touching them, but they’re a very cool life form tied into forest plant communities and it’s worth understanding the role they play.

    Here’s a cool fungus I found on my last section hike on the Appalachian Trail in southern Vermont near Consultation Peak. It’s called a Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus and its scientific name is Hericium coralloides. It has spiky hairs growing from a center mass and survives by helping to break down dead trees, which are its preferred habitat. The Bear’s Head Tooth is supposedly choice eating, tasting like lobster if cooked properly. It’s also easily cultivated so there’s no monetary benefit to harvesting it in the woods.

    Most Popular Searches


    Have you seen the fabulous book by Paul Stamets, Ma Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.

    The author was also a speaker on the TED series recently – won me over on the wonders of fungi!

    This book has great photos.

    I think someone else told me about this book too. I'll check it out.

    Learn About Bearded Tooth Mushrooms: Bearded Tooth Fungus Habitat And Information - garden

    BEAR'S HEAD TOOTH MUSHROOM and equally delectable sibling species
    Scientific name: Hericium americanum, H. coralloides, H. erinaceus, etc.

    The TEXT on this Webpage regarding
    is as important to your SAFETY as the photographs!


    I assume responsibility for the accuracy of information provided at americanmushrooms.com regarding edible wild mushrooms. However, I cannot assume responsibility for the integrity of your use of the information I present here regarding edible wild mushrooms. It is up to you to exercise your own best judgement in the event that you choose to consume edible wild mushrooms. Specifically, it is encumbent upon you to read all the text presented here that relates to the particular edible wild mushroom species involved to ensure that you have effectively ruled out dangerous poisonous/toxic wild mushrooms. Hurriedly comparing wild mushroom specimens to photographs of known edible wild mushrooms in hopes of determining that they are indeed the edible species can readily be FATAL!

    Keep in mind that some of these pages include photographs of poisonous mushrooms which resemble edible wild mushroom species again, reading the accompanying text and applying that information is absolutely vital to your safety!

    Note that even with some of the best, safest, most popular edible wild mushroom species, it is possible for an individual human being to have an allergic reaction to a particular species. This happens with the grocery-store button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), it happens with edible wild morel mushrooms, and it happens with strawberries.

    It is also possible for illness to result from consuming mushrooms that are decaying, contaminated by pollution, or otherwise not in good condition. Before perusing the section of this Webpage that presents photographs of and text about edible wild mushrooms (and some of their toxic "look-alikes"!), you must read "The Mycophagist's Ten Commandments," which explains several hazards and provides advice on how to avoid those hazards.

    Most importantly, be doubtful and be skeptical: Use the mushroom's description to seek evidence that the mushroom you've found is NOT the edible wild mushroom species whose photograph it resembles!

    David Fischer, Author of Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America(1992, Univ. of Texas Press)

    BEAR'S HEAD TOOTH MUSHROOM and equally delectable sibling species
    Scientific name: Hericium americanum, H. coralloides, H. erinaceus, etc.

    Bear's-head Tooth mushroom (Hericium americanum).

    The Bear's-head Tooth mushroom (Hericium americanum, see photo, above) and its sibling species are some of my favorite mushrooms for several reasons, not the least of which is their wonderful and rich flavor when broken into nuggets, baked until they're about one-half their size before baking,* then dipped into melted garlic butter… absolutely delightful! Some people prefer this mushroom lightly sauteed, which does leave it considerably more tender. Folks say the taste is very "seafoody," reminiscent of lobster. I don't think that's far off the mark, but it is truly a unique flavor, so I shan't waste words trying to explain it.
    * -- Keep an eye on them to ensure they don't get dried out!

    I shall, however, warn that you'll be disappointed with specimens that aren't fresh—by which I mean still growing when picked—once they have ceased growing, sometimes even after being picked and stored in the refrigerator, they become bitter with an unpleasant aftertaste.

    The great news is that these delicious fleshy fungi are among the safest, most unmistakable of all of North America's species of edible wild mushrooms: If it looks like a cluster of white fungal icicles hanging off a decaying log, stump, or dead tree trunk, and it seems very fresh, bake it (or fry it slowly in a mix of butter and oil) and enjoy!

    Distinguishing between the species is a little tricky, but it doesn't matter to the chef, as they're all quite good. Hericiums are also common, in part because they fruit on a number of different kinds of deciduous trees, particularly beech, maple, birch, oak, walnut, and sycamore, from the later part of summer through autumn. Sometimes a dozen or more specimens can be found on a single large dead tree trunk each year for several years in succession.

    Unfortunately, Hericiums often grow quite high up on dead tree trunks, which can make harvest difficult—or even dangerous! And many wild-picked specimens harbor bugs, sawdust-like bits of decayed wood, or both. Fortunately, these mushrooms are easily cultivated (see the Fungi Perfecti Website).

    Comb Tooth mushroom (Hericium coralloides).

    The scientific names and the common names have gotten confused "from book to book," and from Website to Website, after solid taxonomic research by the Canadian department of agriculture's Dr. Jim Ginns (demonstrating that we were misusing the European species names ramosum and coralloides) was complicated by some mushroom field guides clinging to the previous species delimitations. Here are the "Ginnsian" species concepts used in Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America:

    Bear's-head Tooth (H. americanum, see FIRST photo above—downward-pointing spines half an inch or more in length and grouped in bundles specimens generally fairly compact overall but with numerous branches revealed when the specimen is sliced, only found east of the Rockies.
    Comb Tooth (H. coralloides, see photo just above)—spines mostly under half an inch in length that are at best inconsistently downward-pointing specimens much more branched than compact.
    Bearded Tooth (H. erinaceus, see photo below)—lacking branches, it is a cluster of downward-pointing spines growing from a solid central wad of whitish fungal tissue. Only found east of the Rockies, most common farther southward, usually on wounds of living trees, especially oak.
    Hericium abietislooks similar to the Bearded Tooth, but grows only in the Rocky Mountains and westward. Unlike the other Hericiums, it grows on conifers and is a noteworthy parasite (it causes Yellow Pitted Rot of better than half a dozen species of hemlock, fir, and spruce).

    There's a lot more information about the Bear's Head Tooth Mushroom
    and other choice edible wild mushroom species in my best-selling book,
    Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America.

    Bearded Tooth mushroom (Hericium erinaceus). Photo by Kathie Hodge.


    Watch the video: How to Grow Lions Mane Mushrooms Recipe Included!