Grow Olive Oysterling mushrooms at Home: A Complete Guide

Mar 18, 2024

The Olive Oysterling (Panellus serotinus) is a beautiful and delicious edible mushroom prized for its delicate texture and mild flavor. Native to parts of North America, Europe, and Asia, this late-season mushroom thrives in cool temperatures, making it an excellent choice for home cultivation.

With the right setup and knowledge, you can enjoy the rewarding experience of growing your own gourmet Olive Oysterlings right in your home.

What You’ll Need to Grow Olive Oysterling mushrooms at Home: Supplies and Materials

  1. Olive Oysterling Spawn. The most common types of spawn for home cultivation are:
    • Sawdust spawn: Finely ground colonized wood particles; ideal for log inoculation.
    • Plug spawn: Small wooden dowels pre-colonized with mycelium; perfect for quick log inoculation.
    • Liquid culture: Mycelium suspended in a liquid solution; allows for more precise inoculation techniques.
    • Source: Purchase spawn from a reputable mycological supplier. Opt for spawn that is fresh and vigorously growing, free from contamination.
  2. Substrate:
    • Preferred hardwoods: Olive Oysterlings thrive on hardwood logs, predominantly oak, maple, beech, or other similar species.
    • Log Conditions:
      • Freshness: Logs should be cut within a few weeks of inoculation for optimal colonization.
      • Bark: Logs should retain their bark, providing natural protection and nutrients.
      • Diameter: Aim for logs between 4-8 inches (10-20cm) in diameter for manageable handling.
      • Length: 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 meters) sections are ideal for incubation and fruiting.
  3. Drill and Drill Bits:
    • Bit sizes: A 5/16 inch (8.5mm) drill bit is optimal for plug spawn. For sawdust spawn, a 7/16 inch (12mm) bit accommodates standard inoculation tools.
    • Drill quality: A cordless drill offers portability, while a corded drill may be more powerful for drilling multiple logs.
    • Cheese Wax or Plug Wax:
      • Purpose: Sealing inoculation holes prevents contaminants and preserves moisture vital for mycelium growth.
      • Specialized wax: Plug waxes are formulated to adhere to wood and offer flexibility with temperature changes.
  4. Inoculation Tool (optional):
    • Use: Primarily for sawdust spawn. Tools resemble a syringe-type applicator for precise placement of spawn within drilled holes.
    • Alternative: Simple, clean utensils like a spoon can substitute for an inoculation tool.
  5. Spray Bottle:
    • Maintaining Humidity: A fine mist spray bottle is essential for keeping logs and the fruiting environment adequately humid.
  6. Humid Environment:
    • Fruiting Chamber: A dedicated enclosure, often DIY, to control humidity, temperature, and airflow.
    • Greenhouse: An existing greenhouse offers good environmental control options.
    • Shaded Outdoor Area: A cool, shaded location with natural humidity works, especially in suitable climates.

Step-by-Step Growing Instructions

Olive Osyterling

1. Prepare Your Logs

  • Log Selection: Prioritize recently felled hardwoods (ideally within 2-4 weeks). Suitable species include oak, maple, beech, and other non-resinous hardwoods.
  • Sanitation: Before cutting logs, lightly clean the intended cutting areas with a diluted bleach solution (10% bleach) to reduce surface contamination risks.
  • Cutting Specifications: Cut logs to 3-4 feet (0.9 – 1.2 meters) length and 4-8 inches ( 10-20 cm ) in diameter. This balances ease of handling with sufficient substrate for optimal yields.
  • Rest Period: Allow logs to rest for 2-3 weeks. This reduces natural antifungal compounds within the wood, increasing colonization success.

2. Inoculate the Logs

Drill-and-Fill Method:

  • Pattern: Drill holes in a diamond pattern, spaced 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) apart and staggered between rows.
  • Depth: Drill holes approximately 1-1.5 inches (2.5-4 cm) deep, ensuring they don’t penetrate the entire log.
  • Plug Spawn: Insert plugs fully, tapping lightly with a hammer if needed. Seal each hole with melted wax.
  • Sawdust Spawn: Use a sanitized inoculation tool or spoon to fill holes to the top.
  • Wax Application: Apply wax liberally, ensuring a complete seal to prevent moisture loss and contamination.

Totem Inoculation Method for growing Olive Oysterling mushrooms

The Tothem Inoculation method involves stacking freshly cut logs vertically, introducing spawn between each layer to create a “mushroom totem.” It’s ideal for smaller spaces and can be a decorative addition to gardens.


  • All the essential supplies listed in the previous instructions guide.
  • Additionally, a large plastic bag or leaf bag.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Log Preparation: Follow the same guidelines for log selection, cutting, and resting as in the main instructions.
  2. Sanitize Workspace: Clean working surfaces with a diluted bleach solution to reduce contamination risks. Wash your hands thoroughly as well.
  3. Build the Totem:
    • Base Layer: Place the first log upright in a large plastic bag.
    • Spread Spawn: Sprinkle a generous layer of sawdust spawn over the entire top surface of the log, approximately ¼ inch (0.5-1 cm) thick.
    • Stacking: Carefully place a second log directly on top of the spawn layer.
    • Repeat: Continue stacking logs and adding spawn between each layer. Depending on log sizes, a totem usually accommodates 3-5 log sections.
  4. Seal the Totem: Once complete, gather the plastic bag around the totem and tie it off at the top. This creates a microclimate for incubation.
  5. Incubation: Follow the same guidelines for incubation location, temperature, and humidity maintenance as the standard drill-and-fill method. Check occasionally for full colonization (6-12 months).
  6. Fruiting:
    • Unbag: Once colonized, remove the totem from the bag.
    • Environment: Place the totem in your selected fruiting area (chamber, shaded outdoors, etc.). Follow standard fruiting guidelines for temperature, humidity, and light.

Advantages of Totem Inoculation:

  • Space-saving: Ideal for limited growing areas.
  • Ease: Generally simpler for beginners than the drill-and-fill method.


  • Contamination Risk: The open spawn layers may be slightly more susceptible to contamination. Careful sanitation is vital.
  • Moisture Control: Monitor logs within the bag to ensure they don’t become oversaturated.

3. Incubation

  • Indoors: A cool basement, unheated garage, or similar space with stable temperatures works well.
  • Outdoors: A shaded, protected area is suitable. Stack logs in a ‘crib stack’ for good air circulation or lean them against supports.
  • Temperature: Maintain a consistent temperature range between 50-75°F (10-24°C). Optimal colonization happens around 65-70°F (18-21°C).
  • Humidity: Regular light misting prevents logs from drying. Covering logs loosely with a plastic tarp can help in arid conditions.
  • Colonization Time: Full colonization is evident by extensive white mycelium growth visible on log ends and through bark cracks. This typically takes 6-12 months.

4. Fruiting

  • Triggering: A temperature drop to 40-60°F (4-16°C) combined with high humidity (80-90%) initiates fruiting.
  • Environment: Move colonized logs to your chosen fruiting area (chamber, greenhouse, or sheltered outdoor space).
  • Light: Provide indirect or filtered light for a few hours daily. This helps guide mushroom development.
  • Humidity Maintenance: Frequent misting (several times a day) is crucial to maintain optimal humidity.
  • Patience: The first flush of mushrooms typically appears within 2-3 weeks of initiating fruiting conditions.

5. Harvesting

Olive Osyterling fungi

  • Timing: Harvest as caps begin to curl slightly upwards, indicating maturity. Overly mature mushrooms can become tough.
  • Technique: Using a clean, sharp knife, cut the entire cluster at its base. Avoid tearing, which damages the log.
  • Storage: Fresh Olive Oysterlings store well in the refrigerator, within a paper bag, for up to a week.


  • Kingdom: Fungi
  • Phylum: Basidiomycota
  • Class: Agaricomycetes
  • Order: Agaricales
  • Family: Mycenaceae
  • Genus: Panellus
  • Species: Panellus serotinus

Common Names:

  • Olive Oysterling
  • Late Fall Oyster Mushroom
  • Late Oyster Mushroom

Historical Scientific Synonyms:

While these synonyms exist, they are considered outdated or less commonly used in current mycological literature. The accepted scientific name, Panellus serotinus, ensures clarity and consistency when identifying this species.


  • Cap: Kidney-shaped or fan-shaped, 2-10 cm in diameter. Olive-green to brownish in color, often with violet tones. The surface is slightly velvety when young, becoming smooth with age. Can be slimy in wet conditions.
  • Gills: Thick, widely spaced, and decurrent (running down the stem). Cream to pale yellow color.
  • Stem: Short and lateral (off-center) or absent.
  • Spore Print: White.
  • Odor and Taste: Mild, sometimes described as slightly sweet or nutty.

Ecology and Distribution of Panellus serotinus

  • Habitat: Grows on dead hardwood trees, particularly oak, beech, and maple. Found in clusters or groups.
  • Distribution: Common in temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia.
  • Fruiting Season: Late fall to early winter, when temperatures are cooler.

Other Notable Characteristics

  • Bioluminescence: Young Olive Oysterling mushrooms can exhibit a faint bioluminescent glow, particularly the gills.
  • Medicinal Potential: Research suggests potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Further studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits.

Important Notes:

  • It’s essential to correctly identify any wild mushroom before consuming. While Olive Oysterlings have few dangerous look-alikes, there are other inedible Panellus species.
  • Some individuals may experience mild digestive upset when eating Olive Oysterlings for the first time. Start with small portions initially.


Can I grow Olive Oysterlings indoors?

Yes, you can grow Olive Oysterlings indoors. The incubation phase happens best in a cool, dark place like a basement or garage. For fruiting, you’ll need a dedicated fruiting chamber to control temperature and humidity precisely.

How long does it take for Olive Oysterlings to produce mushrooms?

The process has two phases:

  • Colonization: After inoculation, logs need 6-12 months for full colonization with mycelium.
  • Fruiting: Once colonized and exposed to fruiting conditions, mushrooms typically appear within 2-3 weeks.

What’s the best time of year to start growing Olive Oysterlings?

Since Olive Oysterlings are cool-weather mushrooms, the ideal time to start is in late summer or fall. This allows logs to colonize over cooler months and be ready to fruit when spring/summer temperatures rise.

My Olive Oysterlings aren’t fruiting. What could be wrong?

Several factors can impact fruiting:

  • Insufficient Colonization: Ensure logs are fully colonized with white mycelium before initiating fruiting.
  • Temperature: Temperatures outside the 40-60°F (4-16°C) range can prevent fruiting.
  • Humidity: Maintain very high humidity (80-90%) during the fruiting phase.
  • Light: A little indirect light helps but too much or too little can hinder fruiting.

How many times will my Olive Oysterling logs produce mushrooms?

Well-maintained Olive Oysterling logs can typically produce several flushes (harvests) of mushrooms over 2-3 years. After that, the nutrient supply in the log is depleted.

Floris - Author of

Floris - Author of

Passionate mushroom hunter and grower. I am fortunate to have learned from some of the best mushroom experts in the field! When I’m not writing mushroom articles, I can usually be found hiking and identifying native mushrooms in different parts of the world.

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Floris - Author of

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Passionate mushroom hunter and grower. I am fortunate to have learned from some of the best mushroom experts in the field! When I’m not writing mushroom articles, I can usually be found hiking and identifying native mushrooms in different parts of the world.