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The Shiitake have a saprophytic relationship with the trees they grow on.  In order to be considered a saprophyte, the organism must receive nutrients from dead organic material.  Decomposition is a very important interaction between the Shiitake and its environment, because it helps to get rid of the bulk of the material from dead trees.



Shiitake's live in the forests of Eastern Asia... much like the one below.


Photo Copyright: www.eastjava.com




Do you like your fungus grilled?


Photo Copyright: Susan Voisin

Tasty and Healthy... Is There Really Such a Thing?

Lentinula edodes is a nutritious and edible fungi.  Most people find the mushroom to be more fleshy and have a meaty texture.  Yum!  Shiitake mushrooms contain all 8 essential amino acids in a higher percentage than in milk, eggs, meat, or soy beans.  Many vegetarians consume the Shiitake in place of meat, because it is a good source of protein.  Shiitake mushrooms have long been noted for their good benefits in traditional Chinese medicine.  They were used to cure colds and increase energy.  Recently though, studies have proven for the mushrooms to really be as beneficial as they were long perceived to be.  They have been shown to have anti-tumor, antibacterial, anti-cholesterol, antiviral, and immune regulating properties.  In medicine, it has been used with HIV positive patients.  Shiitakes contain a polysaccharide called lentinan which has been shown to help increase T-cell counts and lower lymphocyte counts.  The Shiitake has a fairly good record and has only been shown to cause diarrhea and abdominal bloating.