In the Kingdom of Fungi this mushroom is of the family of Flammulina velutipes, also called golden enoki or winter mushrooms. They are one of five beneficial edible mushrooms. The others are:
Shitake(Lentinus edodes), Maitake(Grifola frondosa), Agaricus Blazei(Agaricus blazei murrill), and Reishi Mushroom(Ganoderma lucidum).
This mushroom naturally grows on the Chinese Hackberry tree and such others as persimmon and mulberry as well. There is a significant difference in colors of the cultivated and wild types. The cultivated mushrooms are not exposed to light so they result in a white color while the wild ones have a brown color. The golden needles are cultivated in bunches to protect their delicacy. They can be grown on both live and dead trees. Also on branches covered with soil and tree roots.
This mushroom has been grown in Japan for over 300 years. The Chinese and Japanese use the mushroom in medicine claiming it cures stomach ulcers and liver diseases.
Called golden enoki, enokidake, velvet stem, furry foot, and namitake they are traditionally used in Japanese sukiyaki. The mushroom has a fruity and pungent flavor. They come in clusters and require very little preparation. Just trimming the bottom of the clusters off, wipe them off and add to raw vegetables for soups or sautés. Only wipe them off for if you rinse them they will soak up the water and can become mushy while cooking. Cooking times should be less than 3 minutes or the benefits greatly diminish. They only last a few days after harvesting so they should be used quickly.
As well as being found in the wild and used fresh they can be canned. If canned they can stay on the shelf for several months.
This enoki mushroom has been shown to reduce blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Also it has been shown to improve the immune system and strengthen the tumor fighting mechanism in the human body.
An ingredient in the mushroom can trigger the multiplication of the body’s healthy defensive cells. In a Taiwan U research report it shows that consuming this mushroom can destroy 95% of cancer cells. In American research it has also been found that an extract from this mushroom can destroy cancer cells. It is also used to fight allergies and viral infections.
Nutritionally they are very high in amino acids. They have a lot of niacin in them and are a good source of iron, potassium and fiber.