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Pleurotus ostreatus (Jacq. : Fr.) P. Kumm. 1871

Grifola frondosa (Dicks. : Fr.) Gray 1821

Polyporus frondosus (Dicks. : Fr.) Fr. 1838 Note: Sanctioned by Fries

Syst. Mycol. I:355

1821.

Polypilus frondosus (Dicks. : Fr.) P. Karst. 1882

Cladodendron frondosus (Dicks.) Lázaro Ibiza 1916

Cladodendron frondosus (Dicks. : Fr.) Lázaro Ibiza 1916

Caloporus frondosus (Dicks. : Fr.) Quél. 1888

Merisma frondosum (Dicks. : Fr.) Gillet 1878

Cladomeris frondosa (Dicks. : Fr.) Quél. 1886

Boletus frondosus Dicks. : Fr. 1785

Agaricus ostreatus Jacq. : Fr. 1774 Note: Sanctioned by Fries

Syst. Mycol. I:182

Pleurotus limpidus (Fr.) Gill. 1887

Pleurotus salignus (Pers. : Fr.) P. Kumm. 1871

Pleurotus sapidus Kalchbr. 1887

Hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster

ParentsUnknownGenus is not in the current taxonomy
GenusPleurotus“Side ear,” from Greek πλευρή (pleurē), “side”; and ὠτός (ōtos), “ear.”
Speciesostreatus

About plant names...

These things can get big—really big. Salvatore Terracina, a farmer, encountered a specimen nearly 8' (2.4 m) in circumference, 20" (50 cm) thick, and weighing 42 pounds, near the north coast of Sicily! Typically these don’t exceed 8 inches in diameter. Oyster mushrooms are natives of North America, as well as temperate or subtropical forests throughout the world. They were first cultivated in Germany during World War I. The beautiful young cultivated ones shown here are courtesy of the Fat Moon Farm in Westford, Mass­achusetts. ”Oys­ter mush­room” also applies to several relatives, including but not limited to yellow oysters and pink oysters.

Identification: Oyster mushrooms grow out of the sides of trees, bending upwards so their caps are level, in thick clusters. The “stem” of each mushroom resembles the bell of a trumpet, with white parallel gills running along the length. (The “stipe,” or true stem, is not always visible; if visible, the base can be hairy.) Caps are tan or gray when young, becoming paler as they expand, and are typically 1½-6" (4-15 cm) in diameter. At first, they are more or less dome-shaped, but the dome flattens with age, becoming indented on the top or fan-shaped and wavy. They are quite variable in appearance. They favor hardwoods, both living and dead, but rarely appear on conifers as well. They appear from early Fall to mid-winter. Spore prints are whitish, lilac, or grayish.

Oyster mushrooms have a slight, characteristic odor likened to that of anise or bitter almonds, and due to the presence of a small amount of benzaldehyde.

Edibility: Oyster mushrooms don’t just look like their namesake, they taste a little like osyters too. They are fre­quently used in Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Chinese cuisine, and are rapidly growing in popularity in America as well. They are used in soups and stir-fry recipes. Here are a few recipes. They should be harvested young for eating.

Online References:

Pleurotus ostreatus on Tom Volk's Fungi site, at the Department of Biology at the University of Wisconsin

Pleurotus ostreatus on Michael Kuo's MushroomExpert.com

Pleurotus ostreatus on Shroomery: Magic Mushrooms Demystified

Pleurotus ostreatus on Wikipedia

Pleurotus ostreatus on www.mushroom-collecting.com

Pleurotus ostreatus on Mykoweb.com: the Fungi of California

Pleurotus ostreatus on www.mssf.org

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

10/8/2006 · Milford, PA

Pleurotus ostreatus description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

11/20/2017 · Fat Moon Farm, Westford, MA
≈ 7 × 6" (16 × 15 cm)

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

10/8/2006 · Milford, PA

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

11/4/2013 · Mackworth Island, Falmouth, ME
≈ 7 × 10" (16 × 25 cm) ID is uncertain

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

11/4/2013 · Mackworth Island, Falmouth, ME
≈ 5 × 5" (13 × 12 cm) ID is uncertain

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

11/20/2017 · Fat Moon Farm, Westford, MA
≈ 7 × 10" (16 × 24 cm)

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

11/4/2013 · Mackworth Island, Falmouth, ME
≈ 11 × 7" (28 × 18 cm) ID is uncertain

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

11/20/2017 · Fat Moon Farm, Westford, MA
≈ 8 × 12" (20 × 31 cm)

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

Michael MacDonald holding a small part of one day’s find—we couldn’t carry all of it. From Milford PA, 10/7/2006. Photo by Ellen Zachos. · 7/5/2020

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

10/3/2010 · Dingmans Falls, Dingmans Ferry, Delaware Township, Pike County, PA
≈ 12 × 11" (29 × 27 cm) ID is uncertain

Pleurotus ostreatus (hen of the woods, oyster mushroom, gray oyster)

10/8/2006 · Milford, PA