Pleurotus ostreatus

Common Names: Oyster mushroom, tree oyster mushroom, oyster shelf
Category: Fungi
Sub-category: Oyster Mushrooms

The oyster mushroom is one of the few known carnivorous mushrooms. Its mycelia can kill and digest nematodes. The mushroom has a broad, fan or oyster-shaped cap spanning 5 to 25 cm; natural specimens range from white to gray or tan to dark-brown; the margin is inrolled when young, and is smooth and often somewhat lobed or wavy. The flesh is white, firm, and varies in thickness due to stipe arrangement. The gills of the mushroom are white to cream, and descend on the stalk if present. If so, the stipe is off-center with a lateral attachment to wood. The spore print of the mushroom is white to lilac-gray, and best viewed on dark background. The mushroom's stipe is often absent. When present, it is short and thick.

It is a saprotroph that acts as a primary decomposer of wood, especially deciduous trees, and beech trees in particular.

Edible Notes: It was first cultivated in Germany as a subsistence measure during World War I and is now grown commercially around the world for food. It is commonly found in supermarkets. Kits are available online and in specialty stores to grow your own at home.
Warnings: The oyster mushroom contains statins such as lovastatin which work to reduce cholesterol. Not sure if it may cause interactions with people already on statin medication. Best to check with your doctor first. Generally regarded as safe though.