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Grifola frondosa is a large and hearty mushroom, found growing in clusters on or near stumps, and bases of oak trees. It is commonly known as Hen of the Woods, Ram's Head and Sheep's Head. The mushroom is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is a prized medicinal mushroom in the traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology. It is known by its Japanese name, Maitake, which means dancing mushroom, in United States' supplement market and in Asian grocery stores.
Grifola frondosa is a perennial fungus that often grow on the same spot for a number of years in succession. It grows from an underground tuber-like structure. The mushroom is a cluster consisting multiple grayish-brown, curled or spoon-shaped caps with wavy margins. The white stipe has a branchy structure and becomes tough as the mushroom matures.
In Japan, the Maitake can grow to as big as 20 kilograms a cluster, earning the name King of Mushrooms. It is one of the major culinary mushrooms, other being shiitake, shimeji and enoki. Maitake is used in many dishes, often as an ingredient in nabemono (steamboat) or cooked in foil with butter.
The underground tubers of maitake have been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine to enhance the immune system. Maitake helps in regulate the blood pressure, glucose, insulin, and both serum and liver lipids. Maitake is high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, vitamin B2, vitamin D2, niacin, fibers, antioxidant and amino acids. The mushroom contains alpha glucosidae inhibitor which help in lower blood sugar level in diabetic patients.