Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms

Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms
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Written by Carrie Woodward

Updated: June 23, 2023

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Beech mushrooms and enoki mushrooms have a lot in common. Many Asian cultures prize them for their medicinal and culinary benefits, both are edible, and they both have similarly long stems and small caps. However, there are a few ways in which they are different too! This article compares beech and enoki mushrooms so that you can learn their similarities and differences and how you can use each one.

This article will go over where beech and enoki mushrooms grow. We will describe what they look like. We will also learn the history of each and discover how to use both of these species. Let’s learn more about these two species now!

Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms

CharacteristicBeech MushroomEnoki Mushroom
Scientific NameHypsizygus tessulatusFlammulina filiformis
GenusHypsizygusFlammulina
FamilyLyophyllaceaePhysalacriaceae
ClassAgaricomycetesAgaricomycetes
DivisionBasidiomycotaBasidiomycota
KingdomFungiFungi
Common NameBeech mushroom, white beech mushroom, white clamshell mushroom, shimejiEnoki mushroom, golden needle mushroom, lily mushroom
OriginEast Asia (China, Korea, Japan)East Asia (China, Korea, Japan)
Description of FungusBeech mushrooms are an edible species of mushroom originally from Asia, but which are now cultivated in North America and other parts of the world. They come in two varieties, one which is white and the other which is light brown. These varieties have differences in taste, but both have small caps and long white stems. Beech mushrooms are a popular addition to recipes in Asia, where they gained their nickname for growing among dead beech trees. They have a unique umami flavor that is slightly nutty. Their texture is crunchy. Enoki mushrooms are an edible species of fungus used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Enoki mushrooms have small, white caps and very long stems. They grow in tight clusters and are originally from Asia, particularly China, Korea, and Japan. Enoki mushrooms have a mild, sweet, slightly fruity flavor.

Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms

Description of Beech Mushrooms

The species known as a “beech mushroom” is the edible fungus Hypsizygus tessulatus. Hypsizygus tessulatus goes by the names “white beech mushroom,” “brown beech mushroom,” and many others in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Beech mushrooms are very popular edible mushrooms in Asia, where they grow natively in China and Japan. They gained their nickname of “beech mushroom” from growing among dead and decaying beech trees, as well as around other trees such as elms. 

You may split this species into two groups: brown beech mushrooms and white beech mushrooms. In general, the two have a similar appearance: smooth, small, round caps and long stems. However, they can either be white with white stems or brown with light brown stems. These two variations are the same species, but with different colors and flavor profiles.

Because these mushrooms appear in clusters and have such long, delicate stems and small caps, you will often find beech mushrooms sold in bouquets.

Beech mushrooms are among the most popular edible mushrooms in Asia, and appear in recipes for many different dishes both raw and cooked. It should be noted though that we recommend you cook all of your mushrooms before consuming. With a savory, nutty taste and distinctive crunch, beech mushrooms bring unique flavor and texture to many different recipes.

Beech mushrooms cleaned and ready for use in cooking

Beech mushrooms appear in clusters and have such long, delicate stems and small caps, you will often find them sold in bouquets.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Description of Enoki Mushrooms

The species Flammulina filiformis is commonly known as the “enoki mushroom.” Enoki mushrooms grow on dead wood of species such as birch trees and mulberry trees in its native environment of the forests of China, Japan, and Korea. A species that looks the same to the naked eye, Flammulina velutipes, appears in the woods of North America and Europe. Cultivated enoki mushrooms grow in tight clusters that look a lot like bouquets.

Much like the beech mushroom, this mushroom has small, rounded, white caps and long, crunchy stems. Enoki mushrooms are edible and often appear in Asian cooking, where the stems add a delicious crunch and the caps bring an earthy, slightly fruity flavor and chewiness. 

Flammulina filiformis, enoki mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms (

Flammulina filiformis)

have small rounded white caps and long crunchy stems.

©iStock.com/weisschr

Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms: Key Differences

Already, you can likely see that beech mushrooms and enoki mushrooms have a lot in common. They originate from Asia, have similarly long white stems and small caps, often come in the same color, and are popular in Asian cooking. However, the two have a few distinct differences. Let’s learn more about these similarities and differences as we compare and contrast the two now.

History and Origins of Beech Mushrooms

Beech mushrooms are native to East Asia, particularly the countries of China, Japan, and Korea. There, they can be found growing on hardwood tree species. Because they are often discovered among beech trees, they gained their nickname – however, they also grow among other tree species. The species Hypsizygus tessulatus is actually a variation of a “hon-shimeji,” which describes a group of edible mushrooms. Today, Hypsizygus tessulatus grows in East Asia, as well as in other parts of the world, including in Europe and North America

There are two population variations of beech mushrooms, which you can distinguish by their color. The “brown beech mushroom,” also known as the “Buna-shimeji” originates from Japan and grows in the wild. Its counterpart, the “Bunapi-shimeji,” also originates from Japan, but is known as the “white beech mushroom.” This one is grown commercially. Though they are the same species, white beech mushrooms, and brown beech mushrooms have different flavor profiles, and therefore, different uses.

However, both variations are part of a long history of mushrooms used for culinary and medicinal purposes throughout the world, and particularly in the Asian cultures from which the beech mushroom originates. Beech mushrooms are primarily commercially produced, though they do exist in the wild in parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. However, they have gained widespread cultivation as among the most popular mushrooms to eat in Asia.

History and Origins of Enoki Mushrooms

Enoki mushrooms are also native to East Asia, where their history can be traced back thousands of years. For centuries, enoki mushrooms have been cultivated in China and Japan, where they have an esteemed position in both cuisine and medicine. In Chinese culture, enoki mushrooms have long been used to try and relieve symptoms related to digestion, blood pressure, and liver disease. In Japanese culture, enoki mushrooms have often been used to make teas, soups, and other dishes to hopefully impart various health benefits. 

Historically, experts believed that the wild enoki mushroom Flammulina velutipes was one and the same with the Asian species Flammulina filiformis. Flammulina velutipes grows across North America and Europe, and was believed to be the same species as found in Asia, just geographically spread out. Now the two are known to be separate, distinct species, but when they appear in the wild, they look nearly identical.

As a mushroom that has been cultivated since ancient times, enoki mushrooms have long been grown for human consumption. However, today, enoki mushrooms are one of the most commonly-produced mushrooms in the world. In fact, they are fifth in the rankings of all mushrooms cultivated globally! 

Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms: Appearance

Beech mushrooms and enoki mushrooms are often compared because they do have a somewhat similar appearance, with several unique and notable shared features. 

As described previously, you may organize beech mushrooms into two varieties: brown beech mushrooms and white beech mushrooms. The brown beech mushrooms have small, rounded, and light brown caps over a white or off-white stem. In comparison, white beech mushrooms have rounded white caps over white stems. These stems are typically 2 to 3 inches long, and the caps are usually small – less than an inch across. These mushrooms grow in clusters but can be trimmed and separated before cooking. You will find beech mushrooms growing in clumps on dead and dying beech trees.

Like beech mushrooms, in the wild, enoki mushrooms grow on rotting wood. In some ways, enoki and beech mushrooms have similar features. Enoki mushrooms also have long, thin stems and bulbous caps. However, their caps are much smaller and their stems are longer. Enoki mushrooms have stems that can reach 3 to 4 inches high, but which are topped by a small, white cap that is only a quarter or half an inch across! These mushrooms grow in clusters that can be 6 or 7 inches long and range in color from bright white to more of a yellow-golden color. 

Wild enoki look quite different from the enoki cultivated by commercial producers. In the wild, enoki mushrooms tend to have larger caps and more yellow or tan stems. The cultivated mushrooms have less natural light exposure, causing white fruit bodies with smaller caps and longer stipes (stems).

Close-up of brown beech mushrooms

Brown beech mushrooms have small, rounded, and light brown caps over a white or off-white stem.

©somdul/Shutterstock.com

Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms: Growing Conditions

Growing Conditions for Beech Mushrooms

Beech mushrooms are saprobic. In the forests where they grow natively in East Asia, mushroom species in the Shimeji group, which include the beech mushroom species Hypsizygus tessulatus, thrive. As saprobic mushrooms, beech mushrooms live off of beech trees and other hardwood species. However, they do not attack the living tree tissue like a parasitic species would. Nor do they live in symbiosis with trees like a mycorrhizal mushroom might. They are somewhere in the middle, just breaking down dead wood and helping make new soil for future plants to thrive upon.

Beech mushrooms are relatively easy to cultivate, but not near as easy as the enoki. Because they are more challenging to produce, they are a little bit more expensive mushroom to purchase compared to some other species. Nevertheless, beech mushrooms are among the most popular mushrooms found in the cuisines of Asia, Korea, and Japan.

Growing Conditions for Enoki Mushrooms

In comparison, enoki mushrooms are easily cultivated but can be very different when grown commercially from what you would find in the wild. In the native environment, wild enoki mushrooms appear on rotting wood. Various enoki mushrooms appear often on elms and other tree species in Asia. In the wild, enoki thrives in cooler temperatures and grow on living and dead trees, often in clusters. 

The pure white enoki that most people find in grocery stores and dishes is cultivated enoki. These are quite different, with long and thin stems, tiny caps, and dense clumps. These enokis are cultivated on aged sawdust made from hardwood trees, packed into tight containers, and then inoculated with spawn from the enoki fungus. When cultivated this way, the enoki develops long stems as they grow in the dark and reach out to try to find a source of light.

Wild enoki mushrooms

Wild enoki mushrooms appear on rotting wood, thriving in cooler temperatures and growing on living and dead trees, often in clusters. 

©iStock.com/Wirestock

Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms: Scent and Taste

Beech mushrooms are often described as having a sweet, nutty taste. These are often cooked in a pan with butter or oil and added as a garnish on top of meat or other foods. However, the exact flavor of beech mushrooms varies depending on whether it is a white beech mushroom or brown beech mushroom. The brown beech mushrooms have a more rich, savory flavor, while the white beech mushroom tastes more mild and sweet. Their stems are fully edible and bring a wonderful crunch, just trim off the tough end. You can eat beech mushrooms either raw or cooked – however, we recommend cooking them and many people prefer the way that cooking softens the bitterness of the uncooked mushroom.

Edible raw white and brown beech mushrooms.

Brown beech mushrooms have a more rich, savory flavor, while white beech mushroom tastes more mild and sweet.

©iStock.com/ALLEKO

In comparison, some foodies enjoy enoki mushrooms raw for their crunchy texture. But with recent large scale outbreaks of listeria we think that is a bad idea. When cooked, these stems turn into a softer and more noodle-like consistency. Enoki mushrooms are mild in flavor and are a great conduit for sauces and other flavors because they absorb the spices or broth they are cooked in. To eat enoki mushrooms, trim the end of their stems and stir fry them in oil or with other ingredients such as vegetables. They taste sweet and slightly fruity.

Fresh enoki mushrooms on top of a bowl of tofu and green onion soup

When cooked, enoki mushroom stems turn into a softer and more noodle-like consistency.

©iStock.com/ma-no

Beech Mushrooms vs. Enoki Mushrooms: Health Benefits and Use

Like many other edible mushroom species, eating beech mushrooms may bring many benefits. Beech mushrooms contain antioxidants, are rich in Vitamins B and D, have high levels of dietary fiber, offer potassium and copper, and are high in beta-glucan. Together, these vitamins and minerals may help fight cancer, support hormone regulation, improve digestion, and regulate the nervous system. They can also support good bone health, muscle formation, and a resilient immune system.

To obtain these health benefits, eat beech mushrooms cooked. Cooking them will help your body to absorb the nutrients contained in beech mushrooms.

Enoki mushrooms also have the potential to support good health and bring many nutritional benefits to your diet. Enoki mushrooms have a high amount of dietary fiber; provide antioxidants to boost your immune system; are good sources of multiple vitamins and minerals such as potassium, copper, selenium, sodium, niacin, and iron; and can help support digestion and heart health. Like with beech mushrooms, cook your enoki mushrooms first before eating them so that your body can absorb the nutrition they bring.

In Summary

Both beech mushrooms and enoki mushrooms are edible species native to the geographies of Asia, where they grow in forest environments and are important members of cultural cuisine. They also have similar appearances, with long stems that bring a crunch and small caps, which impart flavor. Both enoki and beech mushrooms are among the most popular mushrooms in the world. Their rivals are the shiitake and oysters. However, all four can be enjoyed in different recipes or even together. Eating mushrooms is known to bring numerous health benefits and can be a great addition to your diet. Which one you choose is often just a matter of taste and what is available to you. This article covered these similarities, as well as other differences. To tell the two apart, compare where they are growing, their coloring and overall appearance, and their flavor. 


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About the Author

Carrie is a writer and fan of all types of plants and animals. Her apartment is home to more than dozen different houseplants and she aspires to adopt more in the near future. You can find Carrie taking long walks or reading a book under the trees in the park.

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