Lions mane mushroom in grow room

Candidates For Cultivation: The Lions Mane Mushroom

(Interested in the health benefits of Lions Mane Mushrooms? Learn how Lions Mane can Supercharge Your Brain here)

Growing the Lions Mane Mushroom is unique in many ways. It takes on an odd shape, like that of a snowball or a stock of cauliflower. Rather than a stem and cap, Lions Mane grows elongated teeth as a way to spread its spores. Its texture is spongy and takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked in.The Lions Mane mushroom is relatively easy to grow at home, provides a good yield and best of all- it’s a culinary delight.

Scientific Name: Hericium Erinacious

General Description:

Lions Mane Mushroom grows in large snowball like formations. The mushroom is white, sometimes browning if the spines are damaged or with age. Individual mushrooms can be quite large, sometimes weighing over 1 lb. The spines or “teeth” start out quite small, but elongate with age. The mushroom is spongy and sometimes semi-hollow. It is sensitive to direct spraying when growing, bruising easily.

lions mane mushroom teeth

Lions Mane Mushroom starts out as tiny spines.

lions mane mushroom spine

Lions Mane teeth elongate as the mushroom grows.

Natural Habitat: Lions Mane is most commonly found on dead and decaying hardwood logs, most often in the fall throughout North America.

Difficulty of Cultivation: Easy-Medium

Agar: Lions Mane is unique on Agar. It rarely grows out to the edge of the plate, but instead form little glacier like formations emanating from the initial wedge. Long teeth grow out from the wedge in all directions. The mycelium is also slow to take off initially.

Spawn Types: Grains, especially Rye grain. Watch Lions Mane grain spawn very closely, as it has the tendency to start fruiting well before full colonization. Lions Mane grain spawn needs to be shaken often to ensure full colonization of the spawn. The mycelium can look thin and whispy, so close inspection is required. It can sometimes look like colonization is incomplete even though its fully colonized.

rgower lions mane mushroom

Tegan holding a bag of fruiting Lions Mane.

lions mane mushroom close in a grow room

Showing the elongated spines of the Lions Mane Mushroom.

Substrate Types: Lions Mane grows best on supplemented hardwood sawdust. Supplement with wheat bran at 10-20%. Higher spawn rates are effective with Lions Mane, increasing the chances that full colonization will take place.

Fruiting Containers: Use large autoclavable filter patch grow bags to create a fruiting block. Once full colonization is achieved, fruit by slicing small “x’s” in the bag at the site of primordia, or where the Lions Mane naturally starts to fruit. Do not cut off the top of the bag. More holes will cause more smaller fruit, whereas less holes will ensure fewer but larger fruit.

Yield: More than 2 lbs of Lions Mane can be harvested from a single 5 lb fruiting block over multiple flushes. Some individual fruits can weigh well over one pound.

Harvest: Harvest the Lions Mane by cutting the “snowball” off close to the bag with a sharp knife. Be very delicate with the fruit as to not damage the spines. The mushroom will store much longer in the fridge if handled delicately. Simply leave the fruiting block in the grow room without cutting new holes in the bag. Subsequent flushes will occur, with fruits developing at the sites of previous fruits.

cross section of lions mane

Sliced up sections of Lions Mane Ready for the Frying Pan!

Weakness: Lions Mane is sometimes difficult to achieve full colonization. Some growers have had more success with Liquid Culture techniques. The mycelium is slow to take off on agar and rarely grows out in a natural circular pattern. The mushroom bruises easily and great care must be taken during spraying of the grow room and especially during harvest. Lions Mane will last a long time in the fridge if properly handled.

Cooking: Lions Mane is a culinary treat, extremely versatile in the kitchen. It acts as a good supplement for meat in many dishes, especially chicken. It has a spongy texture that soaks up whatever flavor it is cooked in. Simply cut the mushroom lengthwise into slices and fry in a pan. Many people find Lions Mane mushroom to be a good imitator of lobster, fried in a pan and dipped in melted butter. Lions Mane mushroom is also said to have medicinal properties, and thought to increase cognitive abilitiesby initiating nerve growth and regeneration. It can be found in health stores.

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The Specifics

Spawn Run:
Incubate at room temperature for 10-14 days. Watch closely for whispy and thin colonization, and early primordia formation. Shake Often.

Initiate Pinning:
Pinning usually starts on its own. Lower temperature to 15 deg C. Cut holes in the grow bags and place in grow room.

Fruit Development:
Temperatures between 15-20 deg C. Humidity at 90%. Ensure not to spray fruits directly when misting. Fresh air requirements are relatively low.

The Lions Mane mushroom is probably our favorite mushroom to grow! It is fun to watch grow and produces very unique snowball like formations. The end result is a delicious and unique mushroom that is very useful in many dishes. If using Lions Mane for its medicinal properties, it can be dried and powdered for long term storage. We highly recommend trying to grow the Lions Mane Mushroom at home!

Thanks for reading. Post pictures of your own Lions Mane grows below!

All pictures and words by Tony Shields, FreshCap Mushrooms

-spread the spores-


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Comments 13

  1. I have been having some encouraging success with this magnificient species! All bags are on their first flush and produce nice yields. However, I am unsure as to what to do bewteen flushes.

    Should I simply remove the block from the greenhouse and let it sit? For how long? Wrap it in plastic and poke new holes? Cold shock again? Etc, etc. I have read so many different things on how to prepare a block for the next flush that I am at a loss.

    So far the info on your site has helped us a lot, so I figured you might be of assistance.

    1. Post

      Hey Gabriel,

      Thanks for reaching out! For Lion’s Mane, I simply leave it in the grow chamber and let it sit in the same conditions. The second flush will come quite naturally, usually within a week or so. If you see new fruits developing under the plastic, you could always cut new holes in that location as well.

      Happy growing!

  2. Hi there,

    What did you use to start growing your lions mane? I am interested in growing my own but am not sure what brands are trustworthy.

    1. Post

      Hi Beth! Thanks for reaching out! I originally purchased a culture of Lion’s Mane many years ago from another online retailer. I have kept that strain and use it today for growing at home. If you are interested, we also sell Lions Mane spawn, however we do not sell the culture.

    1. Post

      Hey Christian! You can think of spawn like the “seed” of the mushroom and fruiting block is the substrate (soil?) which eventually fruits the mushrooms. That being said, fruiting blocks can be broken up before they fruit, and be used to spawn even more substrate.

  3. I am trying to grow Lion’s Mane in buckets of moist sawdust. I first colonized jars of grain, which seemed to go ok, then spread the mycelium into hardwood fuel pellets which had been soaked in water and rung to reasonable moisture content.

    Throughout this whole process, I’ve just noticed that every stage of growth takes way longer than anyone says it should. Also, someone on r/mycology told me it was unnecessary to sterilize the fule pellets, as they were clean to begin with and the fungus doesn’t grow on sterile trees in the wild. Also, many people grow oyster mushrooms on straw that has been pasteurized at 170 degrees to allow beneficial bacteria to grow. I have 3 buckets (2gal buckets) pasteurized and 3 not pasteurized. I can see some very fine mycelium filaments growing on top, no idea how it is growing under the top layer. I’m hoping for it to fruit through holes drilled in the side of the bucket, which are covered by with duct tape. Duct tape has slits cut with a knife.

    Is this going to work? Can I make these things grown any faster? Also, is there any better way to grow with buckets, or is it simply impossible?

    1. Post

      Hey Jack, thanks for reaching out! I think your method seems fine. If you aren’t adding any supplementation (such as wheat bran) then you should be OK without full sterilization. I have grown oysters on straight pasteurized wood chips before in a 5 gallon bucket with awesome results. Lions Mane appears to grow slower than many other types of mycelium so don’t worry too much. Also, sometimes it is really whispy and hard to see, so you might be further along then you think.

      All the best,


  4. Just trying my hand at Lion’s Mane.

    Starting in a pint jar of sterilized barley.

    Starting to see what I believe to be mycelium. The color is greyish and wispy. Is this correct for Lion’s Mane?

    1. Post

      Sounds about right! Lions Mane is very thin, sometimes it looks like there is no mycelium at all in places, but it is still pinning heavily. You’ll know pretty quick!

      Happy growing!

  5. Hi! I’m about to get some spawn plugs for lion’s mane, and was wondering if I colonize it on rye berries, then add to saw dust at 20%(?) would that make my sawdust supplemented?

    1. Post

      Yes and no. Technically it is supplemented because the grain has a lot of nutrition- but since it is already colonized when you are adding it to sawdust, then the block won’t follow the typical “supplemented” sawdust recipe. Hope that makes sense!

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