Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes) is an edible mushroom native to East Asia, which is cultivated and consumed in many East Asian countries. The name "shiitake" is derived from the Japanese words "Shii" (the species of tree that these mushrooms are commonly cultivated on) and "Take" which means mushroom. This species was first taxonomically classified in 1877 by Biologist Miles Joseph Berkeley, as Agaricus Edodes (Edodes means "edible" in latin)
Shiitake has a long history of cultivation for culinary use dating back to approximately 1200 A.D, and has also long been esteemed for it's medicinal properties by practitioners of traditional asian medicine. Modern science has corroborated these medicinal benefits, as studies have shown that consuming Shiitake mushrooms can lower blood pressure, lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels, boost the immune system, improve bone health, and possibly even fight cancer.
Shiitake mushrooms are most often grown on hardwood logs, but can also be grown in a mushroom grow bag using a hardwood sawdust substrate amended with other nutritious additives. They are one of the easier mushroom species to grow, however take quite a long time to fruit.
The visual characteristics of shiitake mushrooms are typically a golden brown/tan/dark brown cap 5-10cm in diameter, often covered with white specks, and a short but thick stem of yellowish white coloration. Shiitake mushrooms require constant humidity above 90% in order to fruit properly, so using a humidity tent is recommended.