Grifola frondosa

Scientific name:   Grifola frondosa (Dicks.) Gray
Derivation of name:   Grifola means "something intricate
or braided" such as a fishnet or woven basket.
Frondosa means full of leaves (i.e., many caps).
Synonymy:   Polyporus frondosus Dicks.: Fr.
Common names:   Hen of the woods, maitake, sheep's head.
Phylum:   Basidiomycota
Order:   Polyporales
Family:   Meripilaceae
Occurrence on wood substrate:  Parasitic; in dense clusters
of overlapping caps on the ground at the base of deciduous
trees and stumps, especially oak and maple; September
through November. 
Dimensions:  Rosette-like clusters can be as large as 60 cm
across. Individual caps are 2-7 cm wide and attached to a
branching stalk which can be 2-4.5 cm long and up to 10 cm
Upper surface:  Gray to brownish-gray or dark brown;
somewhat zonate; smooth or finely roughened
Pore surface: White to yellowish; pores 1-3 per mm.
Edibility: Edible, considered choice.
Comments:  This weak parasite of tree roots can be found at
the same site year after year. It is a highly sought after edible

More information at
More information at

Figure 1. This good-sized specimen of Grifola frondosa
made for a delightful find during a foray.
Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 2. Several clusters at the base of a tree. Photo ©
Pam Kaminski.

Figure 3. Hen of the woods. Photo © David Work.

Figure 4. A well-camouflaged specimen on top of this
stump. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 5. In addition to brownish colors, some Grifola
specimens have gray caps. Photo © Gary

Figure 6. An unusual white specimen of hen of the woods.
The specimen was not particularly old nor was it exposed
to the direct rays of the sun. A gray-colored specimen
was nearby. Photo © Gary Emberger.

Figure 7. The white pore surface contrasts sharply with
the brownish caps. Photo © Pam Kaminski.

Figure 8. White pore surface of Grifola frondosa. The
individual pores are easy to see at 1-3 per mm.
Photo © Gary Emberger.


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