Enoki Mushrooms vs Shiitake Mushrooms

Fresh cultivated mushrooms variety oyster shiitake enoki
© Marie Sonmez Photography/Shutterstock.com

Written by Erica Scassellati

Published: January 15, 2024

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Enoki and shiitake mushrooms are popular in many culinary dishes. Though fungi may be lumped into one group, these two mushrooms could not be more different. While enokis’ long, delicate stems are a prized addition to soups and stir-fries, shiitakes’ meaty texture tastes great on pizzas and in pasta. Let’s explore the differences between these two delicious mushrooms.


Enoki mushrooms have been growing wild in Eastern Asia as far back as at least 800 BCE. They can also be found growing naturally in North America. According to Specialty Produce, Japan was the first country to cultivate these unique-looking fungi.

Shiitake mushrooms are naturally distributed throughout Southeast Asia. Incredibly, the Mycological Society of San Franciso writes that the origin of shiitake mushrooms can be traced to the cretaceous period, over one hundred million years ago.

Cultivation and Growth

Enoki mushrooms grow on dead and decaying hardwood trees. Unlike shiitake, enoki mushrooms prefer the cooler temperatures of Eastern Asia and North America. They grow in clusters and are typically available for harvesting year-round.

Shiitake mushrooms grow year-round in Southeast Asia. They can be found on logs of trees such as shii, oak, maple, and beech. Shiitake mushrooms prefer warm, moist climates and have been cultivated in China since the 13th century. Today a number of countries, including the United States, farm shiitake mushrooms.

shitake mushrooms

Shitake mushrooms grow on the logs of trees in moist, warm environments.



Shiitake is pronounced shee-ta-kay. Their scientific name is Lentinula edodes. The word shiitake is a combination of the words “shii,” a Japanese tree similar to oak, and “také,” the Japanese word for mushroom.

Enoki is pronounced uh-now-kee. Their scientific name is Flammulina filiformis. The name enoki is derived from the Japanese language. However, in Mandarin Chinese, the name Jin Zhen Gu (金针菇) literally translates to “gold mushroom” or “golden noodle mushroom.”


Enoki and shitake mushrooms are easily distinguished from one another by their appearance alone. Enoki are long, thin mushrooms that grow in tightly packed bouquets. They have small caps and tender stems that grow up to twelve centimeters in length. Enoki mushrooms are also white in color.

On the other hand, shiitake mushrooms have large, dark brown umbrella-shaped caps. The mushroom stems and undersides are cream-colored. According to GroCycle, shiitake mushrooms have a more delicate stem than cremini or portobello mushrooms, but they are still shorter and thicker than enoki.


Thanks to their long, spaghetti-like stems, enoki mushrooms are a popular addition to soups, stews, and stir-fries. They often appear in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean dishes. Enoki mushrooms have a mild and delicate taste with a crunchy, chewy texture.

Shiitake mushrooms have an intense, savory flavor, sometimes described as earthy or smoky. They also have a buttery, meaty texture. In fact, shiitake mushrooms make a great substitute for meat in many dishes. They are also a great addition to pizza and pasta.

Health Benefits

Mushrooms are generally considered to be full of health benefits. Enoki mushrooms are low in calories and high in fiber, antioxidants, and B vitamins. Shiitake mushrooms are said to help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, reduce inflammation, and support immune health, according to WebMD.

Dangers of Enoki Mushrooms vs Shiitake Mushrooms

Neither enoki nor shiitake mushrooms are considered poisonous in the traditional sense. However, it’s still the safest option to cook both of these fungi before consuming them.

In April 2023, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), issued a warning linking a listeria outbreak to consumption of enoki mushrooms. Listeria is a genus of bacteria that can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, immunocompromised individuals, and people over the age of 65.

Edible and tiny, enoki mushrooms have a delightfully crisp texture.

©Tamakhin Mykhailo/Shutterstock.com

The CDC recommends that people at high risk should cook enoki mushrooms thoroughly before eating. They also encourage keeping enoki mushrooms separate from foods that won’t be cooked and washing your hands after handling raw enokis.

Although the consumption of raw shiitake mushrooms has grown in popularity, it’s probably not the safest idea. According to ANSES, eating raw or undercooked shiitake mushrooms can trigger a toxic reaction to lentinan known as flagellate dermatitis. This covers the entire body and face and causes severe itching for up to three weeks.

Summary of Enoki Mushrooms vs Shiitake Mushrooms

OriginEastern Asia and North AmericaSoutheast Asia
Cultivation and GrowthDecaying hardwood treesLogs of trees in moist, warm environments
EtymologyJapanese, combination of “shii” and “také” (mushroom)Japanese word
AppearanceLong, thin stalks, small caps, white in colorUmbrella-shaped brown caps, cream-colored stem and underside
TasteMild, crunchy, chewySavory, earthy, meaty
Health Benefits High in fiber, antioxidants, and B vitaminsHelps reduce cholesterol levels and inflammation
DangersListeriaFlagellate dermatitis

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About the Author

Erica is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on history, food, and travel. Erica has over 3 years of experience as a content writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Kansas City, Erica enjoys exploring her home town and traveling around the world to learn about different cultures and try new food.

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