Icicle Mushroom Facts
- The term Icicle Mushroom serves as the common name for any of the fungi in the genus Hericium. All known members of this genus remain edible.
- The name derives from the obvious resemblance of its structure to hanging icicles, or, in the minds of some, cave-based stalactites.
- The members of this genus also bear other, rather colorful, common names. These include the lion’s mane, the bear’s head, and the monkey’s head.
- This visually distinctive mushroom was first described scientifically in 1794, by the South African mycologist, Christian Hendrick Persoon.
- In some portions of the world, this remarkable form of fungus can be found in extensive cultivation as a food source, most notably in China.
Icicle Mushroom Physical Description
Given that there are multiple forms of the Icicle Mushroom, physical differences naturally exist. Yet, some characteristics remain true to them all.
The stalk itself remains rather short, and most commonly attaches itself to a tree. Mature specimens can also be easily distinguished from other varieties by the numerous drooping spines.
In addition, depending on the exact variety, 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
- 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 Asia, South America, and North America.
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, it appears on the trunks of dead trees, it usually grows close to the top. The precise reason for this preference of placement remains a mystery.
While all known varieties remain edible, those native to China and North America generally rank as the most palatable. The greatest consumption occurs in China.
This fungus also plays a key role in folk medicine, most notably in Japan and China.