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Vermilion Co. Conservation  Foundation

Shiitake Mushrooms

Dr. Chris Burnett, formerly of the Illinois Natural History Survey is credited with the initial research of growing shiitake mushrooms on logs at the Vermilion County Conservation District. The purpose is not to grow "exotic" mushrooms, but rather to offer an alternative woodland cash crop to landowners. Silvicultural practices require thinning the woodlands so the potential timber trees have room to grow. These thinned trees only have value as firewood. It was found that an alternative would be to produce shiitake mushrooms on discarded oak logs which are three to six inches in diameter and are cut into lengths of about forty-two inches.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are naturally grown in Japan and Asia. They have only been available as an imported gourmet mushroom since 1974. That is when the first shiitake mushrooms were grown on logs in the U.S., in North Carolina. Shiitake are said to exhibit medicinal properties and may lower the serum cholesterol level of the blood and have some types of cancer inhibitive properties.

Shiitake Mushrooms on logs


The V.C.C.D. research on shiitake mushrooms began in 1986 with the inoculation of seven hundred oak logs with seven different strains of spawn. The initial site chosen was at Kennekuk County Park. It still exists. Since then, two sites have been added at Forest Glen Preserve. Each site exhibits a different topography or tree canopy layer to determine the most suitable growing conditions of the mushrooms.

The Vermilion County Conservation District Foundation of the V.C.C.D. is the underwriters of the research project. Mushrooms are sold locally for $6.00 per pound and may be shipped UPS. Jeremy Parish(Research Forester of the V.C.C.D.), is the current project leader. Tours and slide presentations are available. For more information on the shiitake or to purchase shiitake mushrooms, contact Jeremy at 217-662-2142  

Most Productive Strains