Maitake (2-1)


Grifola Frondosa

AKA: Maitake, Hens (different than chickens), Sheep's head, Ram's head


Often large (12-36 inches), clustered “petals” that are generally gray and/or brownish. Caps “petals” connect to a common stalk at the base via white stems. A single old oak tree can often produce several clusters around it.

Autumn in North America.

Coolness Factor:

The Japanese name, Maitake, means “dancing” mushroom.

Very good immune enhancer with potential anti-tumor properties. May also help reduce glucose levels.

Where Found:

Oaks!! Hens grow at, or close to, the base of old, dead and dying oak trees.


Look for DEAD and DYING OAK trees!!

Hens will often return to the same tree for several years so keep coming back for more!

It is recommended to avoid Hens, and many other polypores, if you are taking a MAO inhibitor medication. Polypores often contain tyramine which can interact with the drug and lead to GI issues.


Since hen mushrooms grow on the ground, are layered and overlapping, and in a cluster, you can often find some debris hiding in there. Cut the “petals” off at their base and brush any dirt or debris, use a damp paper towel as needed. The “petals” are the best part so this is the most worthwhile part.


Sauté is always a good option for hens. A little olive oil works well, but try not to hide the flavor with too many spices as these mushrooms are delicious on their own!

A personal favorite is to make jerky out of them… yes, mushroom jerky! Have used this jerky recipe several times with tasty success.


Hens are a bit more versatile for preserving than many other species. You can freeze them raw or cooked. Dehydrated hens need to be reconstituted before use, but work well in soups or teas. Pickling or making jerky are also easy ways to keep them for longer.

Look Alikes:

Umbrella polypore (no photo currently available). However, this is also considered a delicious edible mushroom so don’t be too disappointed if you find this instead!