Reishi Mushroom Identification and Foraging Guide

Eastern practitioners have used reishi for over 2,000 years to fight everything from depression to dementia, and modern research supports many of these traditional applications. Sounds exotic, right? Well, you can find reishi right here at home!

Read on for a complete guide to reishi mushroom identification, including where to search for these fabulous fungi and how to tell them apart from common look-alikes in the field.

How to Identify Reishi

Reishi are polypore mushrooms of the genus Ganoderma, a name derived from the Greek words ganos (brightness) and derma (skin). True to their nomenclatural origins, many reishi appear varnished or laccate on top.

Cap: Young reishi mushrooms sprout in knobby points of white and darken as they grow, widening and becoming laccate. They form rosettes occasionally, but most mature specimens are fan or kidney-shaped.

Margins are lobed and feature shades of brown, red, orange, or yellow. The colors may change gradually across the cap or appear in distinct color zones, with many featuring white rings around the margins.

Pore surface: Reishi fungi have a smooth white pore surface beneath their caps, much like turkey tail. The pores are tiny and appear as a series of dots or pinpricks rather than toothsome outcroppings or ridges.

Stalk: Reishi may or may not have a distinct stalk. If a stalk is present, it will be thick, brown, and woody, contrasting sharply with the white pore surface. It may appear lacquered, like the cap.

Flesh: Reishi flesh can vary in color from gray to dark brown when cut.

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