How (and Why) to grow Chestnut and Nameko Mushrooms

Those of you who have purchased or grown the Chestnut mushrooms in the United States in the last 10 years are already familiar with these beautiful and tasty mushrooms. Many of our spawn and block customers tell us this is a favorite amongst their customers at their farm markets. Nameko are so unique that their identification is rarely questioned. However, there is some conflicting information surrounding the Chestnut mushroom from online resources.

chestnut mushrooms growing on logs
nameko on a large mushroom round
nameko on logs

How to Grow Chestnut and Nameko

To clarify, Chestnut and Nameko mushrooms are grown on either wood logs and sterilized hardwood blocks. Both have a very wide wood species range, from 2-needled pines to a large variety of hardwoods. See our Tree Species Suitability Chart for more information. These mushrooms are inoculated the same as shiitake and other wood decay mushroom with sawdust or plug spawn, using the drill and fill method with small diameters or totem method with large diameters. These are late summer to fall fruiters and provide some of the most enjoyable harvesting with their bright colors and abundance.

What's in a Name...

The confusion comes with names. While Nameko is fairly straightforward with no competing common names, and a name of Pholiota microspora, the Chestnut mushroom is a little more murky. Not only are there several common names for the Chestnut mushroom, but also some on-going work of molecular analysis that helps to differentiate the several species of very similar Pholiotas, namely Pholiota adiposa and Pholiota aurivella. For those of us interested in growing and eating the Chestnut mushroom and are sticklers for latin names, here is some helpful information:

1. Chestnut mushrooms most commonly nowadays refer to a wood decay species of Pholiotas; these are a group of mushrooms that are frequently indistinguishable to one another in the wild and have  considerable differences in edibility ratings according to many sources online.


2. The common name "Chestnut" has referred to many cinnamon red colored mushrooms. Cinnamon cap, Chestnut, Golden Scaly Caps to name a few. In fact, we have come across several older recipes, usually from Great Britain, that ask for Chestnut mushrooms which are pretty clearly cremini. Nowadays, the Chestnut label refers to the Pholiota adiposa or Pholiota aurivella. These species are nearly indistinguishable and it is likely the genetic analysis of your favorite USA grown mushroom will place it in the aurivella camp, but it is uncertain if these are, in fact,  even different species. 

3. Pholiota aurivella and Pholiota adiposa get both a good and bad rap with edibility ratings, depending on which country does the rating. Europeans, according to different authors, tend to prefer aurivellas, Americans seem to prefer adiposas, likely due to popularization of the name. Edibility ranges from "causes gastric upset" to "choice" for both. We always recommend trying 2 tablespoons worth of cooked mushrooms to test your tolerance before diving in.

Despite the name controversy, you can bet that Chestnut mushrooms that you grow that originates from spawn from a trusted spawn supplier or from a trusted mushroom farm are delicious, colorful, and an overall favorite on the table.