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Ganoderma lucidum


A mushroom of many names, Ganoderma lucidum has been used medicinally be diverse peoples for centuries. The Japanese call this mushroom Reishi or Nammentake (10,000 Year Mushroom) whereas the Chinese and Koreans know it as Ling Chi, Ling Chih, or Ling Zhi (Mushroom of Immortality)). Renowned for its health stimulating properties, this mushroom is more often depicted in ancient Chinese, Korean, and Japanese art than any other. Ling Chi is traditionally associated with royalty, health, and recuperation, longevity, sexual prowess, wisdom, and happiness. Ling Chi has been depicted in royal tapestries, often portrayed with renowned sages of teh era. For a time, the Chinese even believed this mushroom could bring the dead to life when a tincture specifically made from it was laid upon one's chest.

the use of Ganoderma lucidum spans more than two millennia. The earliest mention of Ling Chi was in the era of the first emperor of China, Shih-huang of teh Ch'in Dynasty (221-207 B.C.). Henceforth, depictions of this fungus proliferated through Chinese literature and art. In the time of the Han Dynasty (B.C. 206-A.D. 220) while the imperial palace of Kan-ch'uan was bing constructed, LIng Chi was found growing on timbers of the inner palace, producting nine "paired leaves". So striking was this good omen, that henceforth emissaries were sent far and wide in search of more collections of this unique fungus. Word of Ling Chi thus spread to Korea and Japan whereupon it was elevated to a status of near-reverence.

The mushroom is known by many in North America and Europe as one of the "Artists Conk" fungi. (The true Artist Conk is Ganoderma applanatum). As the fruitbody develops, the spore producing under layer, the hymenium, is white and can be drawn upon. As the pores are crushed, a browning reaction occurs, thus allowing the artist to sketch an image.

Mycelial Characteristics: Longitudinally radial, non-aerial, initially white, rapid growing, becoming densely matted & appressed, yellow to golden brown, and often zonate with age. Some strains produce a brown hymenophore on MEA. A 1cm. square inoculum colonizes a 100x15 mm. petri plate in 7-10 days at 75* F (24* C). Son after a petri plate is colonized (2 weeks from inoculation), the mycelium becomes difficult to cut and typically tears during transfer. Culture slants can be stored for periods of 5 years at 35* F (1-2* C).

Microscopic Features: This mushroom produces reddish brown spores.

Suggested Agar Cultured Media: Malt Extract Agar (MEA), Oatmeal Yeast Agar (OMYA), Potato Dextrose Yeast Agar (PDYA), or Dog Food Agar (DFA).

Spawn Media: Rye grain, wheat grain, other cereal grains. Fruit bodies do not form on most grains except milo (a type of sorghum), whereupon fans of growth climb the inside surfaces of the spawn containers and fruit within. If mature grain spawn is not used directly after colonization, over-incubation results, making it difficult to disperse the grain kernels upon shaking. In this case, a transfer tool such as sterilized spoon, knife, or similar tool is needed to break apart the spawn within the jar.

2nd and 3rd Generation Spawn Media: Each unit of primary spawn can be expanded (3 cups grain in 1/2 gallon jar) into 10 (5-20) units of 5 lbs. sterilized, moist sawdust. Once inoculated, and incubated at 75* F (24* C) colonization is complete in 8-12 days. The 10 sawdust spawn blocks can be expanded into 100-200 3-5 lbs. sawdust/chip bags, which in turn, are colonized in a similar time period.

Substrates for Fruiting: Indoors on hardwood sawdust/chips. 5% supplementation of the sawdust with rice bran or sorghum enhances yields. From my experiences, I have found that over-supplementation with rice bran, beyond 15% of the dry mass of the substrate, inhibits fruit body development.

Yield Potentials: From experiments, yields on first flush average between 125-200 grams wet mass from 2200-2300 grams wet mass in 30-60 (90) days via the rapid cycle system. (Fruit bodies are 80% water, 10%less in moisture content than fleshier fungi). Second flushes 25-50% of first. Yields from log/stump culture are approximately 1-2 obs. per year.

---Growth Parameters---

Spawn Run:
  • Incubation Temperature: 70-80* F (21-27* C)
  • Relative Humidity: 95-100%
  • Duration: 10-20 days
  • CO2: Tolerated up to 50,000 ppm or 5%
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: 0-1
  • Light Requirements: n/a
Primordia ("Antler") Formation:
  • Initiation Temperature: 65-75* F (18-24* C)
  • Relative Humidity: 95-100%
  • Duration: 14-28 days
  • CO2: 20,000-40,000 ppm
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: 0-1
  • Light Requirements: 4-8 hours at 200-500 lux
Primordia ("Young Conk") Formation:
  • Temperature: 70-80* F (21-27* C)
  • Relative Humidity: 95-100%
  • Duration: 14-28 days
  • CO2: 2000-5000 ppm
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: As required for maintaining desired CO2.
  • Light Requirements: 12 hours on/off 750-1500 lux.
Cropping Cycle:
  • Two Crops, in 90-120 days.

Comments: A satisfying mushroom to grow and consume, Ganoderma lucidum is a mushroom whose transformations are mesmerizing. Responsive to the slightest changes in the environment, its unique growth habits have undoubtedly enchanted humans for centuries. The formation and development of the fruit body is greatly affected by the surrounding gaseous environment. Stem growth is elongated under prolonged, elevated carbon dioxide levels (>20,000 ppm) whereas cell formation leading to cap development and hymenial development is activated when carbon dioxide levels fall below 2000 ppm. Ganoderma lucidum can be easily grown in a variety of ways, indoors and outdoors. Yield may not be the only measure of this mushroom's value. Although more biomass is generated with a strategy promoting short stalks and large caps, the antler and capitate-antler form appeals to many as art.

As Ganoderma lucidum gains popularity with North Americans, feasibility studies on the wide scale cultivation of Reishi on stumps are warranted. If markets could support the resulting yields, a whole new industry might emerge on lands currently providing little or no immediate economic return.

(Information taken from Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, Paul Stamets)

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