Oyster Mushroom

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

oyster mushroom (or oyster fungus) Pleurotus ostreatus, is so named because it looks something like an oyster, and has a slippery texture. It grows abundantly on the trunks of dead or dying deciduous trees, and sometimes fence posts (or even, as a 19th-century observer called Plowright discovered, on the dry skull of a dead, stranded whale), in temperate regions throughout the world, from autumn to winter. It withstands cold, and even snow.

In shape it is like a distorted mushroom with a very short stem offset to the side and attached to the tree. Its gills are off-white, under a cap which is usually greyish-blue, turning pale brown with age. The fungus reaches 13 cm (5") in width. It is cultivated in China and Japan; also, on a smaller scale, in some European countries, of which Hungary was the pioneer.