Maitake is a large, edible mushroom native to northeastern Japan. The only edible member of the monkey's bench family, maitake is most commonly found at the base of Japanese oak trees, where it appears as a cluster of overlapping gray or brown fruiting bodies, which may reach over 25 kilograms in mass.
Maitake is known in Japan as "the dancing mushroom," because, according to legend, mushroom hunters who found the rare fungus were said to dance for joy. For centuries, the mushroom has been valued for its unique culinary and medicinal properties. During the feudal era, maitake mushrooms were worth their weight in silver and were used as a form of currency.
Maitake contains a complex polysaccharide compound known as beta-D-glucan, which is believed to be responsible for the mushroom's physiological activity.
Maitake supplements are available in a variety of potencies, with dosage recommendations printed on the labeling. Maitake mushrooms are consumed in large quantities as food, and are not associated with any toxicity.