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Pleurotus pulmonarius

Phoenix Oyster

According to studies recently published by Vilgalys, Pleurotus pulmonarius is virtually indistinguishable from P. ostreatus, and differs largely in its habitat preference for conifer woods. In the Western United States, P. pulmonarius is usually found at higher altitudes than P. ostreatus which prefers the lowland, river valleys. P. pulmonarius and P. ostreatus grow on a variety of hardwoods, with P. pulmonarius primarily a spring mushroom and P. ostreatus growing most prevalently in the summer to fall. The North American collections, show a wider range in color than the European collections. P. pulmonarius hosts a large complex of varieties, offering cultivators a rich resource for new strains. Most of these strains fruit in culture.

Mycelial Characteristics: White, linear, becoming cottony, and eventually forming a thick, peelable, mycelial mat. If cultures on agar media or on grain are not transferred in a timely fashion (i.e. within two weeks), the mycelium becomes so dense as to make inoculations cumbersome and messy. Over-incubated cultures can not be cut, even with the sharpest, surgical grade scalpel, but are torn from the surface of the agar media.

Microscopic Features: This mushroom produces white, to yellowish, to lavender grey spores.

Suggested Agar Culture Media: Malt Yeast Peptone Agar (MYPA), Potato Dextrose Yeast Agar (PDYA), Oatmeal Yeast Agar (OMYA), or Dog Food Agar (DFA).

Spawn Media: Grain spawn throughout.

Substrates for Fruiting: Broadly adaptive, producing mushrooms on a great array of organic debris. The substrate materials proven to result in the greatest yields are the cereal (wheat, rice) straws, hardwood sawdusts, corn stalks, sugar cane bagasse, coffee waste, pulp mill sludge, cotton waste, and numerous other agricultural and forest waste by-products. Royse & Bahler found that the addition of 20% alfalfa hay to wheat straw increased yields substantially. In their studies, yields peeked when a combination of wheat straw, alfalfa, and delayed release nutrients were employed. Alfalfa hay, as any compost maker knows, is considered "hot" because of its elevated, nitrogen component. Although yields can be boosted by adding these nitrogenous supplements, the cultivator must balance whether or not this advantage is offset by the likely increase in contamination rates. (As a rule, the likelihood of a competitor molds increases directly as nitrogen levels are elevated.)

Yield Potentials: Biological efficiency 100-200%, greatly affected by the size of the fruitbody at the time of harvest and whether of not a fourth or fifth flush is achieved.

---Growth Parameters---

Spawn Run:

  • Incubation Temperature: 75-85°F (24-29*C)
  • Relative Humidity: 90-100%
  • Duration: 8-14 days
  • CO2: >5000 ppm
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: 1 per hour
  • Light Requirements: n/a

Primordia Formation:

  • Initiation Temperature: 50-75° (80°) F (10-24° (27°) C)
  • Relative Humidity: 95-100%
  • Duration: 3-5 days
  • CO2: 400-800 ppm
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: 5-7 per hour
  • Light Requirements: 1000-1500 lux

Fruitbody Development:

  • Temperature: 60-80* F (18-27°C)
  • Relative Humidity: 85-90% (95%)
  • Duration: 3-5 days
  • CO2: 400-800 ppm
  • Fresh Air Exchanges: 5-7 per hour
  • Light Requirements: 1000-1500 lux

Cropping Cycle:

  • Every 7-10 days, for 3 flushes.

Comments: This species complex hosts an enormous number of strains. The most popular are the warm weather varieties currently being marketed by spawn manufacturers, often under the name "Pleurotus sajor-caju". This mushroom is more widely cultivated than any other Oyster mushroom in North America and Europe.

Tolerant of high temperatures, renowned for its speed to fruiting and yield efficiencies, many cultivators are initially attracted to this mushroom. However, compared to the many other Oyster-like mushrooms, some hesitate to call it a "gourmet" mushroom. Although high yielding, some do not hold it in high regard for numerous reasons, such as its:

  • continued growth after harvest.
  • lack of cluster-bouquet formation.
  • premature fruiting.
  • quickness to spoil.
  • production of high spore loads.
  • attractiveness to fungus flies.

These may be merely the complaints of a critical connoisseur. Many people use and like this species. P. pulmonarius remains the favorite of many of the largest Oyster growers in the world, especially those located in warmer climatic zones.

Okwujiako found that the vitamin thiamine was critical for growth and fruitbody development in P. pulmonarius. By simply adding yeast extract to the base medium, vitamins essential for enhanced fruitbody production are provided.

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

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