Species List


Phoenix Oyster

Pleurotus pulmonarius

Phoenix Oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius)
12cc liquid culture syringe
$15 - $25 suggested donation
In Latin, pulmonarius means "of the lungs." In Ancient Greece, the lungs were frequently called phrenes, regarded as both the locus of breath and of thought, and metaphorically likened to wings. "What is breath?" Anne Carson asks in her exquisite essay Eros the Bittersweet. "For the ancient Greeks, breath is consciousness, breath is perception, breath is emotion. ... Words, thoughts, and understanding are both received and produced by the phrenes. So words are 'winged' in Homer when they issue from the speaker and 'unwinged' when they are kept in the phrenes unspoken. Phrenes are organs of mind" (48).

The Phoenix Oyster is a remarkable fungus. It grows wild here in the Pacific Northwest, where it can tolerate lower seasonal temperatures than most Pleurotus species and fruits abundantly on both hardwoods and conifers, making it a singularly valuable edible for use in outdoor cultivation and remediation projects. It produces mushrooms singly or in clusters of 2-3, giving it a distinctly winged appearance.

In the laboratory, it is often the first to produce mature fruits out of all of the oyster species, and I have observed it forming primordia in as few as 6 days from inoculation into pasteurized wheat straw. It spoils fairly quickly and produces a tremendous spore load, making it less ideal for consistent indoor cultivation, but it is easy and satisfying to grow and flies off the shelf at market, so it's not a bad choice for hobbyists.

The short life cycle, versatility and adaptability of P. pulmonarius to most wood types recommend it as a prime candidate for doweling logs and stumps, and while I have yet to fully explore its potential, I see it as a workhorse species in myco-centric permaculture design.


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