2015 APR

Reishi Mushroom

reishi mushroom"Reishi" is the way the Japanese pronounce the Chinese name for this mushroom. Reishi belongs to the Aphyllophrales family and has a scientific name "Ganoderma lucidum" (formerly used to be called "Fomes japonicus"). In Japan it has different names depending on its sub-type and the locality: "mannentake" (can be translated as "10000 years mushroom"), "sakikusa" ("lucky grass"), “fushisou” ("immortality grass") and many others. In the old days, reishi used to be treasured as a valuable medicine and people in Japan who were lucky to find it in a forest had to present it to the Court – this is how precious it used to be. Reishi was known for a number of medicinal effects, but it was especially valued for its anti-tumor effects. At present it is almost impossible to see reishi in the wild in Japan, but luckily now it is possible to cultivate reishi artificially. Nowadays reishi continues to attract the attention of researchers in Japan since it is a functional component for supplement foods and as a component for newly developed drugs. Reishi is very dependent on the conditions it is cultivated in, such as soil, temperature, light, humidity, concentration of gases, the characteristics of the particular strain of reishi, etc. The body of reishi, its color, sheen, taste and most importantly its medicinal characteristics may differ significantly depending on the cultivation conditions. Commercial cultivation of reishi started 30 years ago. In order to cultivate reishi that is comparable in medicinal properties with its analogue grown in the wild, technology, expertise and care are required. The first attempts to cultivate reishi in Japan were undertaken by Takeo Henmi et al. in 1937 but it was not until 1971 that Yukio Naoi of Kyoto University finally succeeded in cultivating reishi artificially. Later many other researchers contributed to reishi's artificial cultivation research, which led to the development of such cultivation methods as sawdust bed cultivation, bagasse bacteria bed cultivation and cultivation in bags. Nowadays, the annual amount of reishi cultivated in Japan is about 200–300 tons. Approximate reishi production levels by country:

  1. China       5000 tons
  2. Korea  700 tons
  3. Taiwan   400 tons
  4. Japan  220 tons
  5. Thailand   80 tons
  6. Others   150 tons

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