Leafy Grifola

The mushroom that dances

The grifola frondosa is a mushroom of the family of the Meripilaceae that, unlike other mushrooms, is sought not so much, or not only, for its taste in the kitchen, but also and above all for its therapeutic virtues. In medicine it is used mainly in Japan, a country in which it is particularly widespread (but where it is also cultivated). In Japanese la grifola It is called Maitake, a term that means dancing mushroom. According to tradition, there are two possible explanations for this name. The first has to do with the shape of the mushroom, which could remind of flying butterflies; the second with the fact that the first seekers, when they found this mushroom, danced with joy, given its extreme rarity. The botanical name certainly alludes to its form: grifo in Latin indicates a tangle of branches, and the presence of many fronds is leafy.

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The leafy grifola is a parasitic species, which grows by attaching itself to the trunk of the trees. It prefers especially chestnut trees, and generally tends to always be reborn at the same point every two to four years. It tells of mushroom hunters who have left written only in their will, at the point of death, the place where they had found the leafy grifola, so this is considered a secret to be jealously guarded! The period in which it grows is between the end of August and the beginning of October. In the world, this fungus is widespread in northeastern Japan, where it is rather rare. Instead, it can be found more easily in the woods of the United States and Canada. As for Italy, the areas in which the leafy grifola grows are the Piedmontese maritime alps and the Sila plateau, where it is called by dialectal names such as Barbagino, Griffa or Griffone.Grifola frondosa: The virtues of the leafy grifola and its use in the kitchen

Maitake is widely used in herbal medicine, due to its many virtues. The leafy grifola in fact contains important mineral salts, such as magnesium and potassium; it is also rich in vitamins, fiber and amino acids. This has different effects on the human organism: it plays a role in preventing diabetes, and in controlling cholesterol. Consumption of leafy grifola helps lower blood pressure and maintain body weight. Recent studies would also show that it helps fight prostate and breast cancer, and counteract the effects of chemotherapy. The most interesting effect of leafy grifola is on the immune system, because it helps to strengthen it, fighting metabolic syndromes. However, the leafy grifola is also excellent in the kitchen: it can be preserved in oil, and its meat is good especially fried.