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Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Tricholomataceae
Genus: Tricholoma
T. matsutake
Binomial name
Tricholoma matsutake
(S.Ito & Imai) Singer (1943)[2]
  • Armillaria ponderosa Sacc. (1887)
  • Armillaria matsutake var. matsutake S.Ito & Imai (1925)
  • Armillaria matsutake var. formosana S.Ito & Imai (1931)[2]
  • Tricholoma nauseosum (A.Blytt) Kytov. (1989)[2]
Tricholoma matsutake
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Gills on hymenium
Cap is convex
Hymenium is adnexed
Stipe has a ring
Spore print is white
Ecology is mycorrhizal
Edibility is choice
Japanese name

Matsutake (Japanese: 松茸/マツタケ), Tricholoma matsutake, is a species of choice edible mycorrhizal mushroom that grows in Eurasia and North America. It is prized in Japanese cuisine for its distinct spicy-aromatic odor.[3][4]


The common name and specific epithet, matsutake, in use since the late 19th century, derives from Japanese matsu (pine tree) and take (mushroom).[5]

Similar species[edit]

In Japan, several closely related species have been found, including Tricholoma bakamatsutake (baka-matsutake – 'stupid matsutake' in Japanese), Tricholoma fulvocastaneum (nise-matsutake – 'fake matsutake'), and Tricholoma robustum (matsutake-modoki – 'imitation of matsutake'). Of those species, only baka-matsutake has a taste similar to that of matsutake. Both baka-matsutake and nise-matsutake grow in Fagaceae forests, while matsutake-modoki grows in the same pine forests as the genuine matsutake.[6]

In the North American Pacific Northwest, Tricholoma murrillianum is found in coniferous forests of one or more of the following tree species: western hemlock, 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. In northeastern North America, the closely related mushroom Tricholoma magnivelare is generally found in Jack pine forests.[7] A 2000 report categorized T. nauseosum as a synonym of T. matsutake.[8]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Matsutake mushrooms grow in East Asia, South Asia (Bhutan), and Southeast Asia (Laos), parts of Europe such as Estonia, Finland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and along the Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States.

Matsutake mushrooms grow under trees and are usually concealed under litter on the forest floor, forming a symbiotic relationship with roots of various tree species. In Korea and Japan, matsutake mushrooms are most commonly associated with Pinus densiflora.[9] In China, matsutake (Chinese: 松茸; pinyin: sōngróng) is mainly distributed in the northeast and southwest regions. In the northeast, the growth of matsutake depends on the P. densiflora, its distribution is the same as that of P. densiflora.[10] Longjing City, Jilin Province, China is known as the "Hometown of Matsutake". "天佛指山/Tianfozhi Mountain" in Longjing has been approved as a national nature reserve by the State Council of China. This is the first nature reserve for an edible mushroom and its ecosystem in China.[10]


The candy cane plant or sugarstick, Allotropa virgata, parasitizes these mushrooms by deriving nourishment from the fungal mycelia via its root system.[11] These plants can be used to signal hunters of the mushrooms, both human and animal, to the location of the fungus’ underground mycelia. Additionally, insects are also known to target these mushrooms as food and a place to lay their eggs, limiting the amount of the mushrooms that can be harvested by human gatherers.

Matsutake are hard to find because of their specific growth requirements, the rarity of appropriate forest and terrain, and competition from wild animals such as squirrels, rabbits, and deer for the once-yearly harvest of mushrooms. Domestic production of matsutake in Japan has also been sharply reduced over the latter half of the 20th century due to the pine-killing nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus.


The annual harvest of matsutake in Japan is now less than 1,000 tons, with the Japanese mushroom supply largely made up by imports from China, Korea, the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and northern Europe.[12] This results in prices in the Japanese market highly dependent on quality, availability, and origin that can range from as high as $1,000 per kilogram ($450 per pound) for domestically harvested matsutake at the beginning of the season to as low as $4.41/kg ($2/lb), though the average value for imported matsutake is about $90/kg ($41/lb).[13]

In the 1940s, the abundance of the mushrooms in Japan made them accessible to the general public after long being considered a luxury good, but after the decline of these mushrooms in the region, international trade for them created a fluctuating market that sometimes became very lucrative for the regions of the world that these mushrooms grow in, such as the Yunnan of Southwest China. Very few countries other than Korea had a preexisting economy for matsutake, and Japanese speculators scoped out regions to market the fungi. Certain regions garner a higher price as well, with regions such as North America seeing a higher price by weight than regions such as those in Southwest China.[citation needed]

The price gathered for matsutake in Japan can vary based on the state of the mushroom. Frozen or dried matsutake are less sought after than fresh ones in luxury markets, meaning that the international trade must be done at a quick pace to keep the mushrooms from decaying.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brandrud, Tor-Erik (2020). "Tricholoma matsutake". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T76267712A177054645. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T76267712A177054645.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Tricholoma matsutake (S.Ito & S.Imai) Singer". www.gbif.org.
  3. ^ Ashkenazi, Michael; Jacob, Jeanne (2003). Food culture in Japan. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-313-32438-3.
  4. ^ "Play That Fungi Music". Archived from the original on May 17, 2010.
  5. ^ "Matsutake". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  6. ^ Yamanaka, Takashi; Yamada, Akiyoshi; Furukawa, Hitoshi (2020-03-01). "Advances in the cultivation of the highly-prized ectomycorrhizal mushroom Tricholoma matsutake". Mycoscience. 61 (2): 49–57. doi:10.1016/j.myc.2020.01.001. ISSN 1340-3540.
  7. ^ Trudell, Steven A.; Xu, Jianping; Saar, Irja; Justo, Alfredo; Cifuentes, Joaquin (May 2017). "North American matsutake: names clarified and a new species described". Mycologia. 109 (3): 385–387. doi:10.1080/00275514.2017.1326780. ISSN 0027-5514. PMID 28609221. S2CID 205448035.
  8. ^ Bergius, Niclas; Danell, Eric (5 November 2000). "The Swedish matsutake (Tricholoma nauseosum syn. T. matsutake): Distribution, Abundance and Ecology". Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research. 15 (3): 318–325. doi:10.1080/028275800447940. S2CID 83741330.
  9. ^ Ashburne, John, "In search of the Holy Grail of mushrooms", The Japan Times, 16 October 2011, p. 7.
  10. ^ a b 刘玉波 (2022-12-12). "赤松赤胆忠心松茸共生共荣" (in Chinese). www.forestry.gov.cn. Retrieved 2023-02-05.
  11. ^ Moore, Andy. "Allotropa Virgata". Matsiman.com. Archived from the original on 2001-10-07. Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  12. ^ (in Japanese) 輸入マツタケに異変 中国産激減、フィンランド参戦, J-CAST, 2007/9/26.
  13. ^ Matsutani, Minoru, "Japan's long love affair with 'matsutake'", The Japan Times, 9 November 2010, p. 3.
  14. ^ "NOTES", What a Mushroom Lives For, Princeton University Press, pp. 213–234, 2022-04-26, retrieved 2023-12-01

External links[edit]