aka: Velvet Foot, Winter Mushroom, Enokitake
Etymology Flammulina is derived from the Latin flammeus, meaning “small flame”, referring to the color. Velutipes is the conjunction of two latin words: velutinus, meaning “covered with fine hairs”, and pes or “foot”, in reference to the hairy stem base.
Long regarded as one of the more desirable Winter fruiting mushrooms, Enoki makes it’s appearance in temperate forests around the globe early in the cold season, and commonly fruits through the icy weather all way up until Morels come out in the Spring. In the colder climates it will appear in the summer.
Fruiting mostly as dense clusters of small/medium sized mushrooms, colored from pale yellow to rosy-orange. Enoki lack a stem ring; have attached, close gills; and leave a white spore print. It is advised to familiarize yourself with poisonous “Look-Alikes” in the Galerina autumnalis complex, especially if growing in woodlands and orchards.
Natural Cutivation: Enoki grow well on a wide variety of Hardwood logs and stumps in the shade of Temperate landscapes, as this directly mimics their natural habitat. Poplar, Elm, Alder, Sweetgum, Oak, Walnut, Persimmon, and Mulberry are all good candidates for growing, aged Douglas Fir offers a less desirable, but still effective softwood option.
Long fruiting cycles are displayed in moist climates from 35-55F, but Enoki mushrooms will also fruit through light snow, and have been frequently documented to resume fruiting after thawing from a freeze!
Modern Cultivation: Advancements in cultivation over the past century have brought Enoki to rank as the 5th most produced mushroom in the world, with a large following in Asia, where the lion’s share of it’s 40,0000+ Ton annual production takes place.
Primarily grown indoors on supplemented sawdust, Enoki is the mushroom on which modern sawdust production was first developed, and has played a crucial role in other fundamental advancements of artificial culture.
Such techniques include: CO2 for long stems and suppressed cap growth; lack of light to produce white fruit bodies; and mechanized large-scale production.
Thus the grocery store variety in it’s pale, tight headed, mob-like glory bears very little resemblance to the natural bunches of stately, colorful mushrooms found outside.
Spores in Space
In 1993 the D-2 mission took an interest in studying Gravimorphogenesis, bringing mushrooms into space to study the effects of zero gravity, and the mighty Enoki was chosen for the mission, becoming the first mushroom intentionally exploring outer space.
Result: flat and helically twisted stem growth was observed as the mushrooms were grown over an 8 day cycle.
Mycoremediation Potentials F. velutipes ability to grow well in cold seasons coupled with it’s lignin decomposing habit makes it a very interesting candidate for toxic chemical degradation in soils (PAH’s, PCB’s etc.) Naturally growing from buried roots and wood debris, we are curious to work with Enoki in this way, though at this time of writing we can find no published studies of F. velutipes in mycoremediation.
Enoki as Medicine
Generally regarded as an important health tonic food in Japanese and Chinese cultures, F. velutipes has also been the subject of deeper study into it’s chemical constituents and their interplay with human health.
A study in Japan found that Enoki growers near the city of Nagano had unusually low cancer rates. Proximity to the mushroom lead to frequent consumption and is cited as the main reason for what seemed a phenomenon.
F. velutipes appears to reduce allergic immune response in the case of food allergies (Hsieh, K.-Y. et al. 2003), and is said to cure stomach ulcers and liver disease if taken on a regular basis. Mannick et al. (1996) found Enoki to be effective against stomach infections of Helicobacter pylori.
Polysaccharides and Glycoproteins abound:
- PA3DE: D-glucose, D-mannose, L-fucose, a beta-glycosidic linkage; anti-tumor glyco-protein proflamin, fucose, and arabinose
- Flammulin: water soluble polysaccharide, has been shown to be 80-100 percent effective against Ehrlich carcinoma and sarcoma 180
- FIP-fve: shows immunomodulatory activity against HeLa cervical cancer lines ( Lee, S. L. et al. 2010)
- EA6: inhibits Meth-A fibrosarcoma tumor in conjunction with surgical excision
- Proflammin: showing activity against allogeneic and syngeneic tumors
- Enokipodins A-D: active against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Cladosporium herbarum