A visitor came to Dokmai Garden with a bag of dried
reishi (Japanese) or ling zhi (Chinese) mushrooms bought at a Chiang Mai
Macro supermarket. We discussed the potential benefits, so why not share
with our readers.
Ling zhi is also grown
commercially in Thailand, where they use the same name as the Chinese.
This mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum, is a polypore or
bracket fungus growing on dead wood. It is a cosmopolitan species or species
complex which I have seen growing wild in Sweden as well as in North
America, Japan and even here in Dokmai Garden in Thailand.
There are many Chinese symbols for a long life such as
deer, pine, crane, turtle and ling zhi mushroom. The mushroom is sometimes
called the ’10 000 year mushroom’ or ‘Herb of immortality’, known since the
first Chinese imperial dynasty 2200 years ago. Any practice from the Chinese
super power was copied in Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.
Since it is recommended by the same people who believe
stroking a stone turtle will give you long life, one should not
automatically believe in everything said. Scientific studies have shown
conflicting results, and one should always be wary about ‘medicines’ capable
of curing everything. However, it is not poisonous and today it is derived
from mushroom cultivation, so consumption does not threaten the forest like
in the case of pangolin or tockay ‘medicines’. In addition, edible mushrooms
contain dietary fiber, valuable minerals and generally more protein than
As little as 3-5 grams of dried mushroom per person and
day is a recommended dose. Simply boil the mushroom for 5 minutes and then
let the brew cool down before drinking. If you like the taste, and many do,
this practice is at least not harmful.
A completely different use would be ling zhi as a garden
ornamental. If the substrate is large, such as a freshly cut tree log, one
could plug it with fresh ling zhi mushrooms, and perhaps the spores will
germinate and colonize the log. If the log is buried to maintain moisture,
the emerging fruit bodies will look like little cobras with a lacquered
surface. The mushrooms will emerge until the nutrients in the log are
depleted, or until competing fungi take over.
This would probably work very well in temperate gardens,
but here in the tropics the termites devour the wood rapidly. In a monsoon
garden, I should advice keeping the log on a stand or stone platform in a
moist area, and sprinkle it with water. In commercial situations, ling zhi
is grown on saw dust kept in plastic bags.