Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Flammulina velutipes - Velvet-foot

Family: Physalacriaceae [E-flora]

"Another mushroom of great popularity in Asia is F. velutipes, the winter mushroom, which, as the name implies, is a low-temperature mushroom. The worldwide production in 1997 totaled 284,000 MT with China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan the leading producers. In the period from 1990 (143.0 thousand MT) to 1997 (284.7 thousand MT), production of Flammulina in the world has doubled. Flammulina has been used as an experimental organism in laboratories all over the world, and the requirement of low temperature for fruiting is the only significant factor that limits increased cultivation of this wood-rotting mushroom; in temperate regions this need not be a major drawback." [Chang Mush]

"Flaminulina velutipes (Curt, ex Fr.) Sing, belongs taxonomically to the family of Tricholomataceae. Its fruit bodies are small but delicious. Because the fructification of the mushroom appears most frequently in winter, it is commonly known as the winter mushroom. It occurs all over the world in areas such as China, Siberia, Asia Minor, Europe, Africa, North America, Austraha, and Japan. This mushroom is one of the wooddestroying fungi and grows on the trunks or stumps of aspens, willows, elms, and other broad-leaved trees from the end of autumn to early spring. In Japan it has been used as food for many centuries and is cultivated artificially. It contains 31.2% protein, 5.8% fat, 3.3% fiber, and 7.6% ash on the basis of dry material. In recent years, it has also been commercially cultivated in Taiwan and grown experimentally in Europe." [Chang BCEM]

"Flammulina velutipes is named Enokitake in Japan. It is by far the largest world producer, representing 90% of the total output" [Chang Mush]

"Chi et al (1996) found that sealing in polyethylene bags with holes and storage at low temperature can prolong the life of Pleurotus ostreatus and Flammulina velutipes, and prevent deterioration of quality during storage." [A.B. Cunningham]

"Cardiotoxic proteins have been isolated from Volvariella volvacea and Flammulina velutipes (Lin et al, 1973, 1974). Volvatoxin A, a heatsensitive protein with an intraperitoneal lethal dose, or LD50, for mice of 1.23 mg/kg," [Chang BCEM] "F. velutipes contains a cardiotoxic protein (flammutoxin) that is rendered harmless when subjected to heat (100°C) for a period of 20 minutes." [MM Hobbs]

"Fruiting bodies of enokitake growing wild on decaying logs look nothing like those of the cultivated mushroom. The caps are smooth and gelatinous, up to 10 cm in diameter, and light tan to light orangebrown toward the center but with pale yellow edges. The tops of the stalks are similar in color to the edges of the caps, but the stalks are dark brown at the base and, unlike the cultivated strains, rarely more than 4 cm high. The gills do not run down the stalk and are pale yellow." [EPMW Hall] "Stem details are important in identifying this species. When young, the stems are smooth, but as they get older, they develop a dark brown velvety covering that starts from the base of the stem and gradually moves upward toward the cap. Combine this feature with the unusual time of growth—the coldest months—and you’ve got two good aids to help you identify it." [FGWMP Russell]

Similar Species: "Flammulina populicola and Flammulina rossica have caps with hymeniform to somewhat hymeniform suprapellis (composed of broadly clavate, tenpin-shaped, to spheropedunculate hyphal tips with scattered pileocystidia). F. populicola is more often found in clusters or singly on ground (somewhat rooting) at the base of trees, and F. rossica more frequently exhibits a very pale cap and has elongate spores. Another Flammulina with elongate spores (8-11.5 x 3-4 microns) but otherwise similar to Flammulina velutipes is Flammulina elastica (Lasch) Redhead & R.H. Petersen which is known with certainty only from Europe but morphologically similar collections have been seen from North America also. (Redhead(37)). Galerina autumnalis is somewhat similar but has brown spores and a ring on the stem." [E-flora]


"Look for it from October through April in rainy weather on dead hardwood stumps and logs, mainly elm. Low, damp areas are a favorite location, so check stumps along streams." [FGWMP Russell]

"Velvet stems often hide close to the ground. Examine the base of stumps and turn over logs to see if any mushrooms grow on the underside. Growers cultivate this species for market on oak sawdust". [FGWMP Russell]

"An example of dry oidia is seen in the agaric Flammulina velutipes, which fruits on dead tree stumps and logs in winter". [IntrotoFun3]

"in tufts or clusters "on or near stumps, logs, and roots of hardwoods (but sometimes appearing terrestrial)", (Arora), cespitose [in tufts] on hardwood, often on stumps, spring or fall, in the cooler part of the season, (Lennox), fall, winter, (Bacon), spring, fall, winter" [E-flora]


"Similarly, the edible and now commercially produced enokitake (Flammulina velutipes), which naturally grows on decaying tree stumps, must be carefully identified before eating, since it resembles some species of Galerina, which if consumed can prove fatal." [EPMW Hall]

"Beginning velvet stem mushroom (Flammulina velutipes) hunters need to be careful" [FGWMP Russell]

Edible Use

"It is commonly used in Japanese cooking and increasingly can be found in salads in some gourmet restaurants." [MM Hobbs] "While they may be cooked in various ways they can also be used directly in salads. This is a major edible mushroom." [Smith 2002 MM]

"Edible, but the sticky skin should be removed before cooking. In colder regions it is an important edible and is called the 'winter mushroom" because it fruits very late in the season (even during winter thaws) when other fungi are not available. In our balmy climate, however, its season coincides with that of other, more flavorful mushrooms, so it is not often gathered. A cultivated form of it called the "snow-puff mushroom" or enokitake can be bought in many markets. It looks something like a pure white bean sprout with its long, smooth (not velvety!) stem and negligible cap." [MushDemyst]

"yes, but remove sticky skin before cooking, (Arora)" [E-flora]

Medicinal Use

"If taken on a regular basis, Flammulina velutipes may prevent, as well as cure, liver disease and gastroenteric ulcers, according to one Chinese source (Ying et al, 1987; Yoshioka et al, 1973)" [MM Hobbs]

"It can be slightly salty and bitter in taste..." [Smith 2002 MM]


"F. velutipes contains several types of amino acids including valine, which inhibits the growth of Ehrlich ascities tumour and sarcoma 180 in mice, and lysine, reported to increase body height and weight (Ying et al, 1987)." [MM Hobbs] Flammulin protein known to have anti-tumor properties [Singh FEFB] "A new antitumour glycoprotein has been isolated from cultured mycelium of this fungus - Proflamin. It is useful in combination therapy with other chemotherapy agents (Ikekawa, 1995)." [Smith 2002 MM]

Nutritional Information

100g - 89.2% water, 17.6% crude protein, 1.9% crude fat, 73.1% total carbohydrates, 3.7% crude fiber, 7.4% ash, and 378 Kcal per 100g dry wt. [Chang Mush] "eports vary from 18% to 31% protein (dry weight); 107 milligrams of niacin per 100 grams dry weight. F. Zadrazil (1 979) found that colonization of straw by this species decreases its digestibility for use as fodder." [MushCult Stamets]

"A liquid extract from A. polytricha and Flammulina velutipes was given orally in a study with children and was said to help prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia as well as stimulate weight gains and improve appetite. The preparation was awarded a silver cup at a 1990 international food fair (Ni et al, 1993)." [MM Hobbs]


"Zhang (1997) screened several wood-rotting fungi (including strains of C. versicolor and Flammulina velutipes) for the ability to decolorize cotton bleaching eZuent." [Gadd FB] Cultivation "After growth through the sawdust medium and as the primordia form on the surface, a plastic collar is placed around the neck of the jar and with special environmental conditions, results in the formation of elongated stipes and tiny mushroom heads." [Smith 2002 MM]

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