This mushroom is the most widely cultivated mushroom in the world. The Chinese were the first to cultivate this mildly fragrant mushroom hundreds of years ago. This mushroom may live hundreds of years or
die in a few months, depending on its available food supply. As long as nourishment is available and temperature and moisture are suitable, a mushroom will produce a new crop each year.
It is considered a medicinal mushroom in some forms of traditional medicine. For instance, in Japan and China the chemicals found in shiitakes have been analyzed for medicinal properties. Extracts have been used to prolong life, kill viruses, and improve circulation.
Shiitakes produce vitamin D2 upon exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays
from sunlight or broadband UVB fluorescent tubes.The shiitake has a
medium-sized, umbrella-shaped, tan to brown cap. The edges of the cap
roll inwards. The caps have a soft, spongy texture. Shiitakes grow in groups on the decaying
wood of deciduous trees, particularly shii, chestnut, oak, maple, beech, sweet gum.