Golden Oyster Mushrooms: A Complete Guide

Golden oyster mushroom Pleurotus citrinopileatus
© Eileen Kumpf/

Written by Nilani Thiyagarajah

Published: May 11, 2023

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Some people are not aware of the fact that mushrooms are not vegetables. They are actually a fungus. Even though some mushrooms are toxic, there are plenty of mushrooms are absolutely delicious and will really add to a variety of dishes. Golden oysters aka Pleurotus citrinopileatus is a great example of a mushroom that is good for the dinner table. These white and yellow-colored fungi, which grow in clumps, are known to be quite appetizing. It helps to know about these mushrooms if you want to eat or even grow them. Keep reading for a complete guide to golden oyster mushrooms!

Where Do Golden Oyster Mushrooms Grow?

Pleurotus citrinopileatus golden oyster mushroom

Pleurotus citrinopileatus aka the golden oyster mushroom growing on a log.

©Kirsanov Valeriy Vladimirovich/

Golden oyster mushrooms are native to Asian countries, including Japan, Eastern Russia, and Northern China. They typically grow in hardwood forests in these countries. However, they have become so popular that people have cultivated them in other regions as well.

Many people grow them in North America and Europe, and they can also be found in the wild on these continents. The common belief is that they started out in captivity, and because they spread so easily, ended up moving to the wild. They have since been deemed invasive to these areas.

Golden oyster mushrooms are saprotrophic. This means that they feed on the wood that are either dying or dead. They heavily prefer elm trees, although they will also feed on cherry, beech, maple, and oak.

Outdoors, they thrive best in somewhat cooler environments, in the U.S. they haven’t been found in the wild south of Missouri, Ohio or D.C. You are most likely to find them whenever it isn’t too cold though, in spring, summer and fall, but not as much in winter. In many cases, they will grow in multiple adjacent clusters and can cover up an entire tree stump or downed log.

Identifying Features of Golden Oyster Mushrooms

Pleurotus citrinopileatus golden oyster mushroom

A great look at the gills of Pleurotus citrinopileatus.

©vivid phantasy/

These distinct looking mushrooms should be pretty easy to ID by anyone who can ID other oyster mushrooms. That said, anybody can make a mistake and these are sometimes confused with jack-o’-lantern mushrooms aka Omphalotus species which are toxic. Other things that this could be confused for are Gerronema strombodes, the ringless honey mushroom aka Desarmillaria caespitosa (formerly Armillaria tabescens) and I have even heard of people confusing this for chicken of the woods aka Laetiprous spp.

Golden oyster mushrooms are typically bright yellow in color of the cap and white on the stem. The caps have a bald surface, and they are approximately 1 to 3.25 inches in diameter. These mushrooms have subtle indentations in the center of their caps, giving them a funnel-like shape when they are mature. The edges are incurved when young but can flare out some when older.

These mushrooms have white or whitish gills that run down the stem. The stems are usually curved. These stems are joined together at the base, as these mushrooms tend to grow in large clusters.

The mushroom clusters tend to be very tight, particularly when they are young. They do loosen as all of the mushrooms in the cluster mature. If you are growing them, you will likely see multiple clusters. Each of these clusters can contain many individual mushrooms.

Differences between Golden Oyster Mushrooms and Jack-O’-Lantern Mushrooms

Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms are toxic, so it’s a good idea to learn how to tell these apart from golden oyster mushrooms.

Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms are typically darker and have gills that only run part of the way down the stem. They also can grow in much larger clusters than golden oyster mushrooms do. Sometime you can see that the gills of jack-o’-lantern mushrooms glow in the dark, while those of golden oyster mushrooms don’t. Jack O lanterns also almost always grow at the base of living trees, while you’ll normally find golden oysters on downed logs.

Taste of Golden Oyster Mushrooms

Golden oyster mushrooms are said to have an aroma that resembles watermelon. In terms of texture, they are smooth on the surface, and chewy when you bite down on them.

When cooked, these mushrooms have a nutty flavor. Some people attribute the flavor as being similar to that of cashews. They may be a little bit bitter when nibbled on raw, but that is ok, you shouldn’t be eating these raw in the first place.

Life Cycle of Golden Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms start out as spores. The mature mushroom releases these spores. Although it releases millions of spores, only some of them will grow to maturity. They must land in an environment that will allow them to grow. Generally, this means it needs to be dark and humid.

Spores develop into mycelia. These are small, stringy filaments. They need to come into contact with one another in order to reproduce. After this happens, the new cells multiply and then divide into separate entities. At this point, the mycelium of the golden oyster mushroom will continue to get bigger and obtain nutrients.

The cap of the mushroom, which gives it its signature look, will appear when triggered by certain factors in the environment. Typically, this happens when it is warm and humid. The mature mushroom with gills and caps will then form. Then releases spores, and then the whole process starts again.

How to Grow Golden Oyster Mushrooms

Man holding two mycelium substrate with golden oyster mushrooms, fungiculture at home, Pleurotus citrinopileatus

Pleurotus citrinopileatus, growing mushrooms at home.

©Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz/

If you have an interest in growing golden oyster mushrooms, you’re in luck. These are some of the easiest mushrooms to grow. You don’t have to create abnormal conditions, as they will grow at room temperature. However, keep in mind that warmer temperatures are better since they tend to thrive when the temperature is between 64°F and 86°F.

There are a few options for growing these mushrooms. You can buy mushroom spawn and grow them in jars or bags full of of sawdust or straw. You can also grow them outside on logs, but we don’t recommend that as they can be invasive.

If you are a novice when it comes to mushroom growing, you might want to get a mushroom growing kit. Suppliers sell these, and they typically include ready-to-grow colonized substrates, along with very specific instructions.

Usually, you don’t need to do much to manipulate the contents of the mushroom growing kit. You just need to cut an opening in it, put it in a spot where it will grow, and lightly water it twice a day. Oyster mushrooms grow very quickly, So within less than 10 days, you will likely have your first harvest of golden oyster mushrooms. To learn more about other ways to grow them, check out our article titled How to Grow Mushrooms at Home, seen here.

Cost and Availability of Golden Oyster Mushrooms

Typically, if you want to purchase golden oyster mushrooms, they will cost between $10 and $20 per pound. Most vendors will not send them through the mail, as they are delicate and would likely acquire damage during this process.

Typically, golden oyster mushrooms are available wherever they grow, including throughout the United States. You can find them at farmers’ markets and co-ops, and even some grocery stores. There are some specialized vendors that sell these mushrooms, many of whom have grown the mushrooms themselves.

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