Growing the Lung/Phoenix Oyster Mushroom
This hearty oyster mushroom is often confused with another species of oyster, Pleurotus ostreatus. However, Pleurotus pulmonaris (also known as the Lung Oyster, Phoenix Mushroom, Indian Oyster, or Italian Oyster, respectively) has a few characteristics of its own that a keen eye and spore print can easily distinguish.
Habitat & Range
The Lung Oyster can be found growing prolifically in several subtropical forests and temperate regions of the globe, however, it does not appear on the Pacific Northwest coast of the U.S. ++
This saprotrophic fungi is a primary woodland decomposer and is readily found on hardwood deciduous trees.
Found widely across the U.S., the Lung Oyster pops up in shelf-like clusters among dead and living hardwoods, causing a “white rot”. + These mushrooms tend to arrive late into Spring, as the weather turns much warmer with the call of Summer. With a warm and welcoming fruiting environment, these clusters can be found well into September.
The fruiting body of this particular oyster mushroom tends to grow much like its cousins, with a lung-shaped or oyster-like fanned cap and coloration that ranges from a whitish-grayish-brown. These smaller caps and a presence of a much more pronounced stem structure are two areas to be aware of when trying to separate this species from Pleurotus ostreatus.
The Lung Oyster’s gills range in coloration from cream to white and will continue down the stalk before halting at the stipe.For a more accurate identification, look for a spore print that shows as either white or a lilac-gray (best noticed when taken on a dark background.) ++
Lung Oysters have quite a few intriguing abilities, including mycelia that can kill off and digest nematodes. It’s one of the few known carnivorous mushrooms, meaning it doesn’t thrive off of a saprophytic diet alone. ++
The Lung Oyster is a highly adaptive species that will produce clusters on several types of organic growing medium. That being said, substrate materials that have continually proven to produce the largest yields are hardwood sawdusts, cereal straws (rice, wheat), corn stalks, sugar cane bagasse, coffee grounds/waste, cotton waste, and a number of other waste by-products from forest materials or agriculture. +++ Pleurotus pulmonaris yields can be boosted, just as many others, by adding additional nitrogenous supplements, however, this advantage is often offset by an increased opportunity for contamination to set in.
Just as many other oyster mushroom varieties, the Lung Oyster often displays high sensitivity to CO2 levels in the air. Without proper monitoring of CO2 levels (ideally kept at less than 1,000 ppm), obvious fruiting body malformation occur. +++