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What is golden mushroom?

Mushrooms have been valued for their culinary and medicinal properties for centuries. While most of us are familiar with common mushroom varieties like white buttons, portobellos and shiitakes, there are over 14,000 mushroom species in the world. One of the more unique and mysterious mushrooms is the golden mushroom.

Introduction to the Golden Mushroom

Golden mushrooms, also known by their scientific name Phallus indusiatus, are an edible variety native to several Asian countries. These unusual mushrooms have a striking appearance, featuring a bright yellow to orange-gold cap that looks like an inverted skirt. They grow on decaying wood in hot, humid environments. While not as widely consumed as mainstream mushroom types, golden mushrooms have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and cuisine.

Distinctive Physical Features

Golden mushrooms have a number of distinctive physical features that set them apart from other mushroom varieties:

  • Bright yellow to orange-gold cap resembling an inverted skirt
  • Sponge-like texture on the underside of the cap
  • Long volva or “root” extending from the base
  • Foul odor, similar to rotting meat
  • Average cap diameter of 5-15 cm
  • Average height of 15-25 cm
  • Quickly deteriorating caps that liquify within hours of emerging

The volva or “root” of the golden mushroom anchors it to the ground or decaying wood it grows on. As the cap expands and rises up, this root remains attached. The foul odor of the golden mushroom attracts insects, which aid in spore dispersal.

Habitat and Distribution

Golden mushrooms thrive in hot, humid climates and grow on decaying wood and plant matter. They are found naturally growing in many Asian countries including:

Country Regions
China Southern provinces like Yunnan, Sichuan and Guangdong
Thailand Northern and central provinces
Vietnam Central and southern provinces
Philippines Lowland areas
Indonesia Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi
India Southern states

Golden mushrooms grow wild during hot rainy seasons in these tropical and subtropical habitats. They can sprout up overnight in large numbers on decaying logs after summer rains.

Culinary Uses

Despite their unappealing odor, golden mushrooms are edible and enjoyed in several Asian cuisines. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and meaty texture when cooked.

Some popular ways golden mushrooms are prepared include:

  • Stir-fried or sauteed with vegetables
  • Added to soups and hot pots
  • Steamed with rice wine, ginger and scallions
  • Breaded and deep-fried
  • Marinated in soy sauce mixtures
  • Served in omelets

When preparing golden mushrooms at home, the cap should be separated from the root or volva. The cap can be wiped clean and lightly trimmed before cooking. The volva and gills are discarded.

Here is a simple stir-fry recipe highlighting golden mushrooms:

Golden Mushroom Stir-Fry

Ingredients Quantity
Golden mushrooms, cleaned and caps separated from volva 450g
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp
Garlic, minced 3 cloves
Ginger, minced 1 tbsp
Soy sauce 2 tbsp
Scallions, chopped 3
  1. Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute.
  2. Add golden mushroom caps and stir-fry 3-4 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. Add soy sauce and toss to coat mushrooms. Cook 1-2 minutes more.
  4. Remove from heat. Garnish with scallions and serve hot.

Medicinal Properties and Uses

In traditional Chinese medicine, golden mushrooms are believed to have beneficial health effects. They have long been used in China and other Asian countries as a home remedy and natural treatment for various conditions. Some of the purported medicinal properties of golden mushrooms include:

  • Anticancer effects – Compounds in golden mushrooms may help fight cancer cells and tumors
  • Immune system boosting – Polysaccharides may stimulate the immune system
  • Anti-inflammatory – May reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Antiviral & antibacterial – Believed to fight infections and viruses
  • Diuretic – Helps flush toxins and excess fluids from the body

The medicinal capabilities of golden mushrooms are attributed to bioactive compounds they contain such as polysaccharides, terpenoids, lectins and fungal immunomodulatory proteins. More scientific research is still needed to fully understand their potential health benefits.

Some ways golden mushrooms are used in traditional medicine include:

Medicinal Use Preparation Method
Immune booster tea Simmer dried golden mushrooms in water and drink as tea
Cancer treatment Extracts administered orally or via injection
Rheumatoid arthritis relief Topical ointments containing golden mushroom extracts
Detoxification Add to herbal cleansing formulas and tonics

Always consult your healthcare provider before using golden mushroom products for medicinal purposes.

Availability and Cultivation

Fresh golden mushrooms can be found seasonally at some Asian grocery stores and specialty markets. They have a short shelf-life of just a few hours after harvesting.

Dried golden mushrooms are more widely available. Look for dried golden mushroom products at herbal shops and online retailers. Caps are typically sliced or powdered.

Golden mushrooms can also be cultivated at home using spore prints or cultures. This involves inoculating logs or growing substrate with golden mushroom spores and maintaining warm, humid conditions for several weeks to months as they colonize and fruit.

Growing golden mushrooms takes patience and careful environmental control. It also requires safety precautions when handling the mushrooms and spores.


The golden mushroom is an unusual fungus with a unique appearance and culinary and medicinal significance in many Asian cultures. Its bright caps add vibrant color and intriguing flavor to Asian dishes. Golden mushrooms also have an array of purported health benefits that traditional medicine has relied on for generations. While still not a mainstream mushroom variety, the golden mushroom remains a fascinating specimen both in the kitchen and the field of natural medicine.