The Italian oyster mushroom, also known as the phoenix oyster, is a beautiful mushroom to watch rise from inoculated substrate

Today we are talking about the Italian oyster mushroom (Pleurotus pulmonarius). This mushroom is also known as the phoenix oyster, Indian oyster, and lung oyster.

P. pulmonarius looks similar to pleurotus ostreatus, which is another common oyster mushroom. These mushrooms have similar characteristics and taste similarly as well. The P. pulmonarius develops more of a stem than the P. ostreatus.

Today we are getting into some research on the Italian oyster mushroom, including ways to grow it at home.

Health benefits of the Italian oyster mushroom

Oyster mushroom popularity has increased not only because of the ease in which oysters can be grown, but also because of the taste and their healthful constituents. Let’s take a look at two areas of health where the oyster mushroom can help.

Hypertension: We know that hypertension is a major cause of death in the US. Studies have shown that the Italian oyster mushroom can help with high blood pressure concerns. Healing Mushrooms discusses why the Italian oyster mushroom may be helpful with high blood pressure.

“Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) is a natural biological molecule that leads to constriction of the arteries. The pharmaceutical industry has developed drugs that inhibit ACE, and they are used as a treatment for hypertension. Pleurotus pulmonarius mycelium protein extracts have been explored in vitro for their use as an ACE inhibitor. Using Pleurotus pulmonarius mycelial water extracts, three proteins were identified as having ACE inhibitory effects.”

This information implies that the Italian oyster mushroom has the ability to help people lower high blood pressure and protect against hypertension, which is a significant issue in this country. Next, let’s look at antioxidants and the Italian oyster mushroom.

Antioxidants: Biological molecules can become oxidized within our bodies and this oxidation can lead to an array of illnesses, from arthritis to cancer and numerous neurological conditions. Using antioxidants in our diets is one natural way to help modify these effects. Studies have shown that the Italian oyster mushroom and other oyster mushrooms as well have antioxidant properties. Catalase, also referred to as CAT, is found in P. pulmonarius. According to Science Direct, “CAT is a common antioxidant enzyme present in almost all living tissues and responsible for the degradation or reduction of hydrogen peroxide to water and molecular oxygen using either iron or manganese as a cofactor.”

A study entitled Nutritional qualities and antioxidant activity of three edible oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.) found that P. pulmonarius had the highest amount of CAT than other oyster mushrooms tested, including P. Florida and P. citrinopileatus

Growing the Italian oyster mushroom at home

The easiest way to grow the Italian oyster mushroom at home is with one of our ready-to-fruit kits. This kit comes fully colonized and it is certified organic. The block weighs 10 pounds and will fruit 2-4 pounds of fresh Italian oyster mushrooms throughout its lifetime. Get yours today!

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We also have grain spawn and sawdust spawn of the Italian oyster if you want to grow that way, too!

Some considerations for growing the Italian oyster mushroom, or other oyster mushrooms as well

Oyster mushrooms grow extremely fast and aggressively. They require very little in terms of fruiting strategy. They display distinct morphological characteristics when a fruiting condition is not to their liking. This makes oysters suitable to beginners and mushroom farmers with low-tech equipment. Oyster mushroom spawn is readily available as grain or sawdust throughout the United States. This is a valuable resource because the mushroom farmer does not have to dedicate the time and resources necessary to create a sterile lab.

The storability and fragility of oysters can be altered by changing the harvest stage but in general oyster mushrooms are more fragile than shiitakes or any of the button mushrooms. This gives an advantage to the local producer, by minimizing the handling of the mushroom. The freshness and quality of locally produced oyster mushrooms can be far superior to what is found in most grocery stores.

Certain strains of oyster mushrooms are abundant fruiters giving a good yield compared to labor input. They fruit in clusters making it easy to harvest and store. Oyster mushrooms tend to be fragile which can create some difficulty in packaging and selling. Here are two often-asked questions involving the cultivation of oyster mushrooms:

  • How much spawn should I add? At the beginning it is good to spawn at a 10% ratio so if you have a 5 pound bag of spawn you can inoculate 50 pounds of substrate. As you get better or if you are working in a sterile environment you can inoculate closer to a 2-5% ratio with a 5 pound bag inoculating 200 pounds of material. The ability for mycelium to expand and continue to grow is massive. A small piece of tissue from a single mushroom can be expanded out to 20,000 pounds of substrate within 4 months.
  • If there is green or other color molds what should I do? Never expand a material that has green mold on it, but you don’t necessarily have to throw it out. If it is just a little bit of mold simply cut the mold off or spray with alcohol. If the substrate is 50-60% colonized by oyster mushroom mycelium it will likely still fruit mushrooms. Mushrooms that fruit from substrate with mold on it are still safe to eat. If the mushrooms themselves have mold then you might not want to consume them.

Don’t forget: Pick up your Italian oyster growing kit, sawdust spawn, or grain spawn today!