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Pale oyster - Pleurotus pulmonarius

Pale Oyster - Pleurotus pulmonarius

Main features

  • Fruits Summer to Autumn

  • Grows on deciduous wood

  • Smells of wet flour or ammonia

  • Cap white to pale cream in colour with a wavy edge

  • Cap between 2 and 10cm

  • Short stem at the side of the cap

  • Gills are white turning pale cream and run decurrently down the stem

  • Flesh is white

  • Spore print is white

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Pale Oyster - Pleurotus pulmonarius

Edible mushroom - novice

Other common names: Summer Oyster, Italian Oyster, Indian Oyster, Lung Oyster, Phoenix Mushroom


Scientific name meaning: The genus name comes from the Greek Pleura, meaning "a rib" "the side", and in reference to how the stem is at the side of the mushroom. Pulmonarius is from the Latin Pulmo, meaning pertaining to the lungs, is a reference to the shape of the fruit body

Season - when will I find it? Summer to Autumn

Habitat - where will I find it? Grows on the wood of deciduous trees

Description - what does it look like? 

Growth: The Pale Oyster is a saprobic mushroom living on dead/fallen deciduous wood. It grows in overlapping groups

Cap: The cap is 2-10cm across, white to pale cream in colour, and shaped like a fan or shell. The edge of the cap can become wavy

Gills: The gills start off white, becoming a pale cream colour. They are crowded and decurrent (running down the stem)

Flesh: The flesh is white

Stem: Is short and to the side of the cap

Smell: Wet flour or mildly of ammonia

Spore colour: White

Possible lookalikes Could be confused with Angels Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens), which is now know to be toxic. However, this is a very white colour and grows on coniferous wood. It also prefers slightly colder temperatures, so unusual to find south of Scotland in the UK. Oysterlings may also be confused with Oysters Mushrooms, but the largest of these reaches around 6cm. To rule them out, only harvest Pale Oysters with caps of 8-10cm or larger

Use as a food A popular cultivated as well as a wild mushrooms, the Pale Oyster is used in a wide range of mushroom dishes

Use in herbal medicine The Pale Oyster has been/is being studied for its medicinal benefits including - analgesic and antihistamine effects, preventing the proliferation of cancer cells, and in aiding in the treatment of colitis

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards None known

Things to note Oyster Mushrooms catch and feed on nematode worms living in their substrate. They are cultivated in the same way as Grey Oysters, and grown on coffee grounds, sawdust, newspapers and old books

Importance to other species Provides food for a the larvae of a number of fly species. Worth remembering when harvesting. Younger, fresher specimens tend to have less livestock inside!

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

Oyster Mushroom gills running decurrently down the stem
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