Icicle Mushroom Facts
- Perhaps most notably, the distinctive term Icicle Mushroom serves as the common name for any of the fungi in the genus Hericium. Furthermore, regardless of its unusual appearance, all known members of this genus remain edible.
- In addition, the common name derives from the obvious resemblance of its structure to hanging icicles, or, in the minds of some, cave-based stalactites. For the moment, researchers classify a total of four species within this fascinating genus.
- Furthermore, the different members of this interesting genus also bear other, rather colorful, common names. These include the lion’s mane, the bear’s head, and the monkey’s head, to go along with their respective scientific names.
- Also, the first known scientific description of these visually distinctive mushrooms came at the hands of the South African mycologist, Christian Hendrick Persoon. Quite surprisingly to some, he made this identification in 1794.
- Finally, the Icicle Mushroom does have commercial uses. In some portions of the world, this remarkable fungus can be also found in extensive cultivation as a food source. This usage of it most notably takes place in the country of China.
Icicle Mushroom Physical Description
Given that there are multiple forms of the Icicle Mushroom, one fact understandably stands out. That’s because certain physical differences quite naturally exist between them. Yet, some characteristics nevertheless remain true to them all.
Firstly, the stalk of the fascinating mushroom variety itself remains relatively short. Secondly, it most commonly attaches itself to a tree via its spines. Mature specimens can also be easily distinguished from other varieties by the numerous drooping spines.
Also, depending on the exact variety of Icicle Mushroom, a third shared trait remains. That’s because these spines may grow either rows or in large clusters. Further, unlike many types of mushrooms, this form develops no cap. Finally, its coloring typically remains white or whitish-gray.
- Kingdom: Fungi
- Phylum: Basidiomycota
- Class: Agaricomycetes
- Order: Russulales
- Family: Hericiaceae
- Genus: Hericium
Icicle Mushroom Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The various forms of the rather surprising Icicle Mushroom thrive in most temperate and tropical portions of the world. Yet, the greatest number of species evolved in three specific regions of the world. More specifically, these zones of habitation consist of the continents of Asia, South America, and North America.
However, wherever it appears, its habitat type should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with mushrooms. That’s because, as remains the case for related species, this type of fungus also prefers to grow in dark, moist locations. Most commonly, though not exclusively, it appears on the trunks of dead trees.
When, as remains typical, the Icicle Mushroom appears on the trunks of dead trees, a somewhat unexpected pattern manifests itself. That holds true due to the uncommon fact that it usually grows close to the top. For the moment, the precise reason for this preference of placement remains a mystery to researchers.
Finally, while all known varieties remain edible, those native to China and North America generally rank as the most palatable. Furthermore, the greatest consumption of this particular type of mushroom occurs in China. This fungus also plays a key role in folk medicine throughout Asia, most notably in Japan and China.