Wild Reishi Foraging: Across Species & Tree Identification

June 6, 2022 | By Sebastian Munevar (The Mad Mycologists, LLC) Instagram: @themadmycologists

Part 3 of Understanding the Reishi Mushroom

Instagram: @themadmycologists

Something Red and Glossy is Waiting in the Woods

The Reishi mushroom is one that few are lucky enough to cross paths with. It is a mushroom whose glossy, lacquered cap gives off a bright shine and amplifies its burgundy-red color through the browns and greens of the forest. This mushroom will often stick out like a sore thumb and that is what today’s blog will cover: Where can I find Reishi? What trees do they grow on? And how does that differ across species?

Tis The Season

Like many other mushrooms, Reishi can be found proliferating during a specific season of the year. Commonly, Reishi is found growing during the Summer and into the Fall, although some Reishi mushrooms have been found fruiting year-round if the local weather conditions become optimal for fruiting during that window of time. It really depends on location because each state has their own weather patterns. In Florida for example, Reishi can be found fruiting year-round in certain areas due to Florida’s tropical climate and relatively “warmer” winters. If the season is upon us, Reishi could be blooming in your local forest or park, and your odds of finding it will increase if you know the kind of trees you’re looking for.

What’s on the Menu for Reishi?

Most Reishi mushrooms have a strong preference for eating hardwood trees, but depending on the species, they will either prefer hardwood trees or conifer trees. So wherever you plan to forage, it would help to do a little bit of research and learn about the trees commonly growing in your area or in the forest you plan to explore. Some of the hardwood trees that Reishi loves to break down include Oak, Elm, Beech, and Maple trees. Wit these hardwood trees, you are likely to find species of Reishi like Ganoderma lucidum, Ganoderma curtisii, or Ganoderma sessile, to name a few. 

When it comes to conifer trees, we can find species like Ganoderma tsugae and Ganoderma oregonense growing on these trees. Ganoderma tsugae is known as the Hemlock Reishi, so you’ll typically find it growing on Hemlock trees, but it has also been reported growing on Red Fir trees in California. Ganoderma oregonense is another conifer-loving Reishi that is native to states like Washington, Oregon, and California. So if you live in these states, keep an eye out for this Reishi on your next hike through the forest. However, upon further investigation, it turns out that Ganoderma oregonense has been found growing on hardwood trees in these areas as well.

Tree Conditions to Look For

Now that you have an eye for the kinds of trees to lookout for, it would help to know the kind of condition in which these trees are likely BLD (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner) for Reishi mushrooms. Here is a brief list below for where to look:

  • Up and down the trunk of a rotting tree
  • Along a fallen log
  • At the base of a tree (where hardwood debris or rotting roots are likely buried)
  • Shaded patches along the forest floor where hardwood stumps or debris might be buried

Here are some photos for reference:


Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4


(Photos #1 G. curtisii, Photo #2 G. tsugae, and Photo #3 G. curtisii)(Photo #4 Likely G. oregonense. Captured by Phoenix Ridings in Oregon, IG: @phoenixridings)


Ideal Harvest Condition for Reishi

Once you stumble upon your first Reishi in the wild after reading this blog, there will be a few visual indicators to keep in mind when assessing whether the Reishi you found is fresh and ideal for harvesting with the intention of extracting it:

Step 1) Make sure the mushroom you found IS Reishi. Reishi mushrooms are unique because they have a varnished look to their cap. It is glossy and lacquered with different colors, varying from dark burgundy, burgundy-red, bright red, red & orange, or a mix of yellow and orange. Colors depend on the species and the surrounding environment. The fruiting body should also have white pores on the underside since Reishi is a polypore mushroom. Reishi is also not known to have any poisonous look-alikes, so that gives additional peace of mind if you’re worrying about picking a poisonous mushroom by accident.

Step 2) Double-confirm the species of tree that you found the potential Reishi growing on and make sure it’s one of the tree species listed above. Do a cross-analysis of the tree species and the species of Reishi that you are looking for.

Step 3) Once you’ve completed Step 1 & 2 thoroughly, start by assessing the condition of the Reishi fruiting body. Is it rotting? Does it have holes on top or under? Is there mold growing on it? These are often the first signs that the Reishi you found is not a prime specimen for harvesting. A prime specimen will still have a white polypore underside, no mold, zero to minimum holes, and it will not have dropped its spores yet. If it has dropped spores already, then that’s ok, but just keep in mind that many of the medicinal triterpenes found in Reishi are locked away in the spores and tubes (refer to Reishi blog #2 fr tubes) of the cap. With all of that said, if it’s condition is somewhere in the middle, it will really come down to your own discernment whether you think the Reishi you found is ideal to pick. 

Now that you have the eye and know-how for spotting this magical mushroom in the wild, I wish you the best in your upcoming foraging. I hope this guide answered all of your questions and uncertainties regarding the process of finding Reishi in the wild. If you have any further questions, feel free to message me on Instagram at @themadmycologists. Thankfully, in this context, my DM’s are not flooded, so I should have plenty of space to respond to your message in a timely manner to the best of my ability. Be on the lookout for Phase 2 of the Reishi blog series! Here we will cover topics like Reishi extraction, Reishi cultivation, and even a sweet way to infuse Reishi in the kitchen! Stay tuned and follow my Instagram for more info about the science behind mushrooms and mushroom extraction! Mush love!


From ExtractCraft:

A special thank you to Sebastian for his hard work and dedication.  He is a professional with a passion for sharing his ideas and insight with others in the community.  We are grateful for your contribution.