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Identifying reishi mushrooms varies a bit from region to region as different species have evolved based on location.

  • Ganoderma lucidum – Is the species used in traditional Chinese medicine.  It grows on the hardwood (especially oaks) in warmer regions, such as Asia, the South Pacific, southern Europe, and the Southeastern United States.
  • Ganoderma tsugae – Found in the Northeastern United States, the species name “tsugae” means “hemlock tree” which tells you where you should begin looking for this species.  Though it’s almost always found on hemlock, it can occasionally be found on birch or maple if they were growing close to hemlock.  They can be found freshest between May and July.  This species is also known as the hemlock varnish shelf.
  • Ganoderma applanatum – A particularly hard and woody reishi species, varying in size from 2 to 30 inches wide.  Color is duller than others and lacks a lustrous shine.  Very difficult to cut, and often must be cut with a saw into strips for drying.  This species is an opportunist and can be found on many different tree species, both hard and softwood.
  • Ganoderma curtisii – Distributed from Massachusetts to Nebraska, this species has an especially dramatic ochre-colored cap, that dulls as the mushroom ages.  It has a matte rather than the lacquered finish on its cap.  Found on hardwood logs, usually oak or maple, but occasionally other hardwoods as well.
  • Ganoderma sessile – A red shiny species that grows 3 to 16 inches across.  The flesh is very soft and bendable, and unlike other species, if damaged the outer growth margin will produce a sap-like resin.  Found on hardwood, usually oak or maple, but occasionally other hardwoods as well.
  • Ganoderma oregonense – As its name suggests, this species is native to the pacific northwest where it grows on conifers.  The fruiting body is very large and can be up to a meter across.

Other species include Ganoderma lingzhi, Ganoderma capense, Ganoderma carnosum, and Ganoderma resinaceum.

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