It has been estimated that the origin of the Shiitake mushroom can be traced to the cretaceous period, over one hundred million years ago. Shiitake mushrooms are the second widely cultivated mushroom in the world, is often used in Asian cuisine. The Chinese people have been using Shiitake mushrooms as a nutritional and medicinal food for over 6,000 years.

According to a Chinese legend, around 5,000 years ago, a deity, Shennong bestowed the world with natural treasures including medicinal mushrooms. Tapestries and Chinese manuscripts depict deities holding several species of medicinal mushroom, including the shiitake, which finds applications in Chinese culture as an aphrodisiac and a promoter of youthfulness and virility.

"Xi-Wang Mu, the Taoist deity called 'Godmother of the West' with a Ganoderma lucidum (ling zhe) mushroom in hand." (McHugh, 2019).


Shiitake is a fungus native to parts of Asia, but it is cultivated in North America. It is characterized by forming mushroom with dark brown to gold brown cap, some dark gray mottled with a typical diameter of 7.5 to 15 cm. The foot is very hard and has a lighter color.

In the East it is commonly known as "fragrant mushroom" because it is very aromatic.