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  • Matsutake

  • Area: Shangri-La
  • Matsutake (Japanese: 松茸, pine mushroom, Tricholoma matsutake = syn. T. nauseosum) is the common name for a highly sought after mycorrhizal mushroom that grows in Asia, Europe, and North America. It is prized by the Japanese for its distinct spicy-aromatic odor

Habitat and distribution

Matsutake grow under trees and are usually concealed under fallen leaves and duff on the forest floor. It forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of a limited number of tree species. Matsutake are known to grow in China, Japan, Korea, Finland, Sweden, among other countries. In Japan it is most commonly associated with Japanese Red Pine.

Similar species

In the North American Pacific Northwest Tricholoma magnivelare is found in coniferous forests made up of one or more of the following species: Douglas-fir, Noble Fir, Shasta Red Fir, Sugar Pine, Ponderosa Pine or Lodgepole Pine. In California and parts of Oregon, it is also associated with hardwoods, including Tanoak, Madrone, Rhododendron, Salal, and Manzanita. T. magnivelare is typically called White Matsutake as it does not feature the brown coloration of the Asian specimen.

In 1999, N. Bergius and E. Danell reported that Swedish (Tricholoma nauseosum) and Japanese matsutake (T. matsutake) are the same species.[4] The report led to increased import of matsutake from Northern Europe to Japan because of the comparable flavor and taste

Cost and availability

Matsutake are hard to find, though simple to harvest, and, therefore, the price is very high. Domestic production of matsutake in Japan has been sharply reduced over the last 50 years due to a pine nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, and it has influenced the price a great deal. The annual harvest of matsutake in Japan is now less than 1,000 tons, and the Japanese mushroom supply is largely made up by imports from China, Korea, the North American Pacific Northwest (Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia), and Northern Europe (Sweden and Finland).The price for matsutake in the Japanese market is highly dependent on quality, availability, and origin. The Japanese matsutake at the beginning of the season, which is the highest grade, can go up to $2,000 per kilogram. In contrast, the average value for imported matsutake is about $90 per kilogram.