Sunny and cold today, midday temperatures not much above freezing, chilly wind making it feel even colder. Yesterday, I tried doing some research on Reishi life cycles. Some polypores grow for years, adding growth rings like trees, and I hadn’t wanted to harvest the ones I found until I learned more about them. Not surprisingly, it is easy to find a lot of information on the mushroom’s alleged health benefits (which include everything from laxative and sleep aid to cure for cancer and chronic bronchitis– http://www.naturalnews.com/021498_reishi_mushrooms.html is a particularly enthusiastic article), and difficult to find information about the life cycles of wild-growing individuals. From what I could figure out, the mushrooms are annuals, putting out new ones each year, and the individuals I found yesterday were at the end of their life cycles, having already performed their spory duties. So I rode back out to harvest a few.
I found this one already broken off at the stem, and sitting upside-down on the ground. When I brushed it off, it retained some of the varnished look of younger mushrooms, and the ‘top’ was covered in white mycelium. It turned out to be the best preserved of all the Reishi I found.
I cut some up for tea right away, then cut up the rest to freeze for later use. This one (lower right in the photo above) was in markedly better shape than the others, as this cross-section shows. Looks chock full of health benefit…
And after 2 hours of boiling and some more steeping, I had four cups of Reishi tea, ready to drink (it’s frothy because I put some honey in it and shook it all up). It’s pretty bitter, not all that pleasant to drink, but I’m sure it will put me on the path to infinite health and whatnot.