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The Best Species of Wood for Growing Mushrooms: Ultimate Guide

The Best Species of Wood for Growing Mushrooms: Ultimate Guide

Posted by Troy Cosky, Founder FunGuy Grow Supply on 5th May 2023


The Importance of Appearance in Mushroom Cultivation

Are you thinking about growing mushrooms? Have you decided to grow mushrooms this season, but are unsure about the best species of log to use? When it comes to selecting the optimal species of log for cultivating mushrooms, it can often be an onerous task given the plethora of options available in today's market. Let's explore log varieties and key considerations when deciding.

Log Varieties and Key Considerations


The different species of logs available are going to have various textures, densities, and ages, all of which have a profound effect on the growth of our beloved fungi. Some mushroom species even have a preference for specific types of trees or parts of trees, such as trunks or branches. The geographical region and climate can also impact the availability and suitability of different tree species.

The importance of selecting just the right species of log cannot be overstated when it comes to mushroom cultivation. Let us delve into the vast array of available log types and examine each factor to determine which would be best suited for your needs.

Species of Logs

  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Birch
  • Alder
  • Beach

These are just a few of the species of logs available for mushroom cultivation. Each has its unique properties and characteristics that can make it more or less suitable for specific types of mushrooms and growing conditions.

Oak vs. Cedar Logs: A Comparison in Appearance

When it comes to choosing the right species of log for your mushroom cultivation project, appearance is a crucial factor to consider. The appearance of the log not only affects the aesthetics of the final product but can also have an impact on the growth and yield of your mushrooms.

  • Oak logs are a popular choice for mushroom cultivation due to their durability and attractive appearance. Oak is a deciduous hardwood tree that is known for its dense, strong wood and sustained fruiting period. The preferred type of wood for most mushroom species, oak is often the species of log chosen by seasoned mushroom cultivators.
  • Cedar logs are another option for those looking to grow mushrooms. Cedar is a soft hardwood that is often used for outdoor furniture and decking due to its natural resistance to rot and decay. Cedar logs have a distinct aroma and a light color, which may be appealing to some cultivators.

In comparing the aesthetics of oak and cedar logs, it is noteworthy to consider the variances in color. Oak displays a darker and more opulent hue, while cedar presents a lighter and unadulterated appeal.

The Importance of Durability in Mushroom Cultivation

When it comes to selecting the ideal species of log for your mushroom cultivation project, durability is an important aspect to take into account. Oak and cedar logs are two popular options, each with unique characteristics that affect their durability.

Characteristics of Oak Logs

Oak logs are a prime choice when it comes to selecting which species of log is best for your mushroom cultivation needs. These deciduous hardwoods boast a tight and dense grain structure, providing water resistance, rot resistance, and protection.

Characteristics of Cedar Logs

Cedar is a soft hardwood that is naturally resistant to decay and insect infestations. Its unique aroma, which comes from its natural oils, also makes it resistant to moisture and rot. Cedar logs are a favored selection for exterior projects, owing to their weightlessness and ease of maneuverability.

Comparison of Durability

When it comes to durability, oak logs have an edge over cedar logs. While cedar is resistant to decay and insects, it is still a softwood that is prone to splitting and cracking over time. In contrast, oak is a magnificent hardwood that boasts remarkable durability and can withstand the test of time, serving as an ideal substrate for mushroom cultivation for several years.

In addition to their inherent durability, the maintenance requirements of oak and cedar logs also play a role in their overall longevity. Oak logs require very little maintenance, other than regular monitoring to ensure that they are not affected by pests or rot. For low-maintenance, durable logs, choose oak. Cedar is a lightweight, easy-to-work-with option, but requires regular sealing and staining for protection against the elements and to maintain appearance. The best species of log depends on your priorities.

Preparing Logs for Inoculation

Preparing Logs for Inoculation

Once you've determined the best tree species for your mushroom cultivation project, it's time to prepare your logs for inoculation. Follow these steps to ensure your logs are ready to receive your preferred type of mushroom species:

  1. Cut the logs to the appropriate length and diameter, usually between 3 to 8 inches in diameter and 3 to 4 feet in length. This size is ideal for maximizing the surface area for inoculation, while still allowing the log to be easily handled.
  2. Leave the bark intact when preparing your logs for mushroom cultivation. The bark contains important nutrients that will help to feed the mycelium and promote healthy growth. The bark can be left on or partially removed in areas where inoculation will take place.
  3. Store the logs in a cool and shaded area until ready for inoculation. This will prevent the logs from drying out or becoming infested with pests. Once you are ready to inoculate the logs, make sure they are still moist and pliable.

Inoculating logs with mushroom spores or mycelium is a simple process. In my experience, fresh wood is the best choice for inoculation. It has a lower risk of contamination compared to older, more decayed wood. Inoculation can be done using sawdust or plug spawn, which are both easy to use and highly effective.

After inoculation, logs should be kept moist and shaded to encourage mycelium growth and prevent drying out. Logs should be kept off the ground to prevent contamination and infestation by pests. Regular monitoring of the logs is necessary to ensure the mycelium is healthy and to identify any potential issues or infections.

Best Tree Species for Mushroom Cultivation


In the realm of mushroom cultivation, certain types of trees reign supreme. Among these, deciduous hardwood trees, including oaks, maples, and beeches, are highly preferred options for optimal growth and yield. Pine family trees, such as Douglas fir, are also popular choices.

Examples of Mushrooms That Can Be Grown on Logs

  • Italian oyster (Pleurotus genus)
  • Hemlock Reishi
  • Lion's Mane

These species have a sustained fruiting period, making them a popular choice for growers.

Different species will have different requirements and characteristics, so it's crucial to do your research and select the best option for your needs. FunGuy offers Mushroom Calculators and many more mycological tools to help you grow max mushrooms.

Maintenance of Logs


Maintaining your logs is essential for the success of your mushroom cultivation project. After inoculation, logs should be kept moist and shaded to encourage mycelium growth and prevent drying out. Oak and cedar logs have different characteristics and maintenance requirements.

Characteristics of Oak Logs

  • Oak logs are a popular choice for mushroom cultivation because they are hard and durable, which allows for sustained fruiting periods.
  • The presence of tannins in tree species is beneficial for mushroom cultivation since they can act as inhibitors for bacteria and fungi, creating a prime environment for certain mushroom species to grow.
  • However, oak logs can be more difficult to inoculate due to their density and slow colonization rates.

Characteristics of Cedar Logs

  • Cedar logs are also a great option for mushroom cultivation, especially for beginners.
  • They are softer than oak logs, making them easier to inoculate, and they have a pleasant smell.
  • Cedar logs also have natural antifungal properties, which can help prevent contamination and infestation by pests.
  • However, cedar logs may not be as durable as oak logs and may require more frequent replacement.

Comparison of Maintenance Requirements


After inoculation, both oak and cedar logs require similar maintenance. The logs should be kept moist and shaded, preferably under a canopy or in a greenhouse. Logs should be watered regularly, especially during dry seasons, to prevent drying out. It is also important to keep the logs off the ground to prevent contamination and infestation by pests. You can use cinder blocks or wooden pallets to keep the logs elevated.

Regular monitoring of the logs is necessary to ensure the mycelium is healthy and to identify any potential issues or infections. Signs of contamination or infection include discoloration, unusual smells, or the presence of mold. Act quickly if any signs become visually or odor prominent.


When making the selection between oak logs and cedar logs for mushroom cultivation purposes, it is advisable to consider the current project specifications carefully. While the financial aspect might be a concern in certain situations, every effort should still be made to assess the environmental impact of both kinds of wood in use. One essential consideration when deciding on which type of log to use is assessing its availability in your local market as projecting costs can vary from one region to another. Oak and cedar are two popular choices, each with its own unique characteristics and environmental footprint.

Here's a breakdown of the costs associated with two popular types of wood:

  • Oak logs: Oak logs are a preferred type of wood for sustained fruiting periods, especially for species like the Italian oyster and Hemlock Reishi. Oak is a deciduous hardwood tree with a sustained fruiting period of up to four years, making it an excellent choice for mushroom cultivation. Oak logs are also resilient and can withstand exposure to the elements better than soft hardwoods like poplars and aspens. Generally, oak logs are more expensive than cedar logs due to their durability and longevity.
  • Cedar logs: Cedar logs are known for their fresh wood and are preferred for inoculating logs during the mushroom season. Cedar is a softwood that has a shorter lifespan than oak, with a sustained fruiting period of one to two years. Cedar logs are ideal for species like the Pine family trees, which prefer softer woods. Cedar logs are also easy to work with and can be easily inoculated with FunGuy's particular strains. Cedar logs are usually less expensive than oak logs.

Environmental Impact


When comparing the environmental impact of oak and cedar logs, it is important to consider several factors:

  • Growth rate: Oak is a slow-growing tree that takes many years to mature, while cedar grows faster and can be harvested sooner.
  • Source: Many cedars are sourced from old-growth forests which have a significant ecological impact, whereas oak trees are typically grown in managed forests.


In conclusion, selecting the most appropriate tree species is of utmost importance when cultivating mushrooms successfully. Amongst the commonly used trees for this purpose are oak and cedar. However, an array of deciduous hardwood trees like poplars and aspens may also fit the criteria. The preferred wood type should align with the specific kind of mushroom you intend on breeding and consider their sustained fruiting period.

  • In terms of durability, oak logs outweigh cedar ones by sustaining up to four years whereas cedar hosts usually require renewal after one-to-two years.
  • Despite that, due to its cost-effectiveness and easy availability, cedar logs would suit novice or budgeted mushroom breeders well.

Before inoculation, it's essential to properly select fresh wood chopped within six weeks to avoid contamination from other fungi or pests.

Preparing logs for inoculation is an essential step in the mushroom cultivation process. Fresh wood that has been cut in the last six weeks is ideal for inoculation, as it is less likely to be contaminated by other fungi or pests. It's important to leave the bark intact, as it contains essential nutrients and helps to protect the log from drying out.

After inoculation, logs should be kept in a cool and shaded area to encourage mycelium growth and prevent drying out. Both oak and cedar logs require regular maintenance to ensure the mycelium is healthy and to identify any potential issues or infections. With proper care and attention, you can yield a bountiful harvest of delicious and nutritious mushrooms from your logs.


Ultimately, the decision of which species of log to use depends on your specific needs and budget. Oak logs are the best for longevity and require less maintenance, but they are more expensive and have a higher environmental impact. Cedar logs are cheaper but have a shorter lifespan and require more maintenance. Well, when it comes to choosing the optimal species of log for your mushroom cultivation needs, one must take into account all of the factors at play. Appearance and durability are important considerations in addition to the environmental impact that each species may have.

In summary, when it comes to mushroom cultivation, it's essential to choose the right species of log and take a holistic approach to maintain a sustainable and thriving ecosystem. Whether you are growing Hemlock Reishi, Italian oysters, or other mushroom species, logs are an excellent and environmentally friendly medium for cultivating mushrooms. Happy mushroom growing!

Looking for a reliable source of mushroom growing supplies? FunGuy Grow Supply has everything you need to get started, from Mushroom Grow Kits to monotubs.


  • Cotter, T. (2015). Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation. Chelsea Green Publishing. ISBN-10: 1604692707
  • Shein, C. (2013). The Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem. Timber Press. ISBN-10: 1604692707