Oyster mushroom: Profile
Oyster Mushroom, Grey Oyster, Straw Mushroom, Tree Oyster, Hiratake, Tamogitake
Pleurotaceae (Oyster mushroom)
Widespread and common throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, Northern Africa and Australia. Common and widespread in Britain and Ireland.
Where to find Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster Mushroom grows on decaying deciduous wood or unhealthy trees soon to die, particularly Beech.
When to find Oyster Mushrooms
All year round, best in late autumn and winter.
How to identify Oyster Mushroom
The Oyster Mushroom grows in shelf-like clusters on stumps and dead wood, particularly Beech. The cap is convex and shell-shaped when young, turning wavy and split edges when mature. Between 5-20 cm across, colour may vary from white to smoky grey and dark brown. The gills are white, becoming pale cream with age and are crowded, running down the stem. The flesh is white in colour. The stem is very short, sometimes absent and grow laterally. Spores are white or pale lilac-grey.
Oyster mushroom lookalikes
Pale Oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius), which seem to lack of stem, is also edible, as well as Branching Oyster (Pleurotus cornucopiae).
Oysterlings (Crepidotus cesatii) look superficially similar but never grow as much as Oyster Mushrooms and are really small.
It could also be confused with with Angels Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens), which is poisonous. However it only grows on coniferous wood with colder weather, most likely to be found in Scotland.
All about Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster Mushrooms are instantly recognised due to their characteristic smooth shell-shaped caps that grow in shelf-like clusters on dead wood. They are relatively large in size and come in different shades of grey, while other related species (Pleorotus sp.) can also be found on yellowish and pinkish tones.
They are also readily available in the supermarket aisles, often included as part of the misleading ‘wild mushrooms’ selection. The truly wild species can be quite variable in colour and shape and more often than not, they look entirely different. Wild varieties are generally more flavourful.
Medicinal properties of Oyster Mushroom
Oyster Mushroom is a rich source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Some research indicates that this fungi may help to strengthen the immune system.
Culinary uses and recipes with Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are sought-after species with an exquisite meaty texture that makes them perfect for grilling and stir frying, thus offering a solid vegan alternative to meat dishes.
Oyster mushrooms are delicate and have a mild sweet aniseed aroma. It’s a versatile mushroom that goes well in many dishes, ranging from Oriental stir fries to Eastern European soups and stews but they also work really well in light cream sauces.
Safe foraging of Oyster Mushroom
Make sure you can positively idenify fungi before eating them and try just a small amount for first time.
Ecological importance of Oyster Mushroom
It provides a food source for slugs and the larvae of a number of fly species.
Oyster Mushroom helps to decompose dead wood and recycle nutrients.