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Maitake Mushroom Benefits (and Why You Need it!)

Fun fact: I have a whole basket of mushroom coffees and drinks on my coffee bar. One of the powerhouse mushrooms you’ll find in there is maitake. 

This humble mushroom is also called “hen of the woods.” Its overlapping fronds resemble the feathers of a nesting hen, hence the name. Over the centuries, maitake’s many benefits have sparked the interest of researchers and health enthusiasts alike. Not only is it a medicinal mushroom, but its delicious umami flavor makes it a prized culinary ingredient. 

What Are Maitake Mushrooms?  

The maitake mushroom, also known as Grifola frondosa, is an edible mushroom native to China. It also grows in the mountains of northeastern Japan, Europe, North America, and other parts of Asia. Besides hen of the woods, another common name for this mushroom is “sheep’s head.”

“Maitake” means dancing mushroom in Japanese. The name supposedly comes from people dancing for joy upon finding it. People have known for centuries how beneficial this type of mushroom is. It’s one of the mushroom varieties considered a “medicinal mushroom.” Maitake has a long history of both culinary and medicinal use: “Let food be thy medicine.”

Nutrients in Maitake Mushrooms

Maitake mushrooms are an excellent source of amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, phosphorus, and potassium. They also provide dietary fiber to feed beneficial gut bacteria. Their cell walls are rich in anti-inflammatory beta-glucans that help support the immune system.

Vitamin D

Maitake mushrooms are a natural source of vitamin D, but the amount can vary due to growing conditions, sun exposure, and maturity. When Maitake mushrooms are exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) light during their growth, they can synthesize vitamin D. It’s kind of like what human skin does when exposed to sunlight. The type of vitamin D found in fungi is D2 rather than D3. 


These mushrooms also have phosphorus. Read more:

Anand Vaid

Sempera Organics' staff writer seeks out all the latest mushroom news to keep you informed and up-to-date.