The fantastical and visually intriguing Reishi are actually polypores whose naturally lacquered surfaces emphasize their brilliant rusty red and buttery yellow hues. Grown primarily as a medicinal mushroom (Reishi’s Chinese name “Ling Zhi” translates as “mushroom of immortality”), they are easily dried for use in teas or decorations. Reishi will grow outdoors on natural logs (best in the southern United States) or in sterilized sawdust. Careful manipulation of light, temperature, humidity and CO2 levels present when fruiting occurs may determine which of the two forms the Reishi will take. The seashell-like CONCH shape develops in conditions with abundant light levels, high humidity, high levels of oxygen and plenty of airflow. The elegantly branched ANTLER shape forms in conditions where moderate light, high humidity, high CO2 levels and minimal air flow are present (readily achieved with the use of a clear plastic bag or large glass jar).
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