You may know about a few expensive mushroom varieties like truffles, but there are also some very rare and expensive mushroom varieties you may not have heard of.
This article will teach you about a dozen of the most expensive mushrooms in the world. You’ll learn how much each type costs and why they’re so expensive.
Why Are Some Mushrooms So Much More Expensive Than Others?
The most expensive mushrooms in the world only grow in the wild and are difficult or impossible for farmers to cultivate.
Since they can’t be mass-produced and only grow for a certain period of the year, they’re more scarce.
Varieties of fungi like truffles also grow under the ground, which makes them even harder to find, and therefore more costly (in time and money) to extract.
What Are the Most Expensive Mushrooms?
How many of these costly mushrooms have you heard of?
1. Kalahari Truffles
Cost: $4 per pound (£1.30 per kilogram)
Truffles have a reputation of being some of the most expensive types of fungi.
But though these truffles grown in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, Africa may run slightly more expensive than your average grocery store button mushroom, they’re actually quite affordable.
Compared to the more popular white or black truffles, they have a more mild flavor and scent.
Their cheaper price is based on the fact that they grow in more sandy ground. They’re easy to find by looking for cracks in the sandy earth, so there’s no need to use truffle dogs or pigs to locate them.
2. Enoki Mushrooms
Cost: $8 per pound (£2.60 per kilogram)
Enoki mushrooms are now widely available in many grocery stores in North America and Europe. However, they don’t look like most other types of mushrooms that you can buy.
They have long, thin white stems with very small caps. They also tend to grow in clumps.
These little mushrooms have a mild flavor and make a nice addition to stir-fries. As long as they’re not overcooked, they tend to retain a lot of crunch.
3. Oyster Mushrooms
Price: $5 to $15 per pound (£1.60 to £6 per kilogram)
Oyster mushrooms are the second-most-common mushroom in North America and Europe.
They are exceeded in popularity only by the agaricus bisporus mushroom (which includes button mushrooms, cremini and portobello).
Oyster mushrooms are one of the easiest mushrooms to grow at home. Many mushroom farmers now grow them and they can even be grown from kits right on your kitchen counter.
Since they’re so easy to grow, they’re naturally the least expensive mushroom on our list.
These fungi are available in a wide range of colors including grey, white, pink, blue and others.
They’re best used fresh within a few days of harvesting, but they can also be dried.
4. Lion’s Mane
Price: $10 per pound (£3.25 per kilogram)
Lion’s mane is an interesting-looking mushroom with long, white spines. It looks a bit like a tiny mop, clump of hair or a little white hedgehog.
The flavor of lion’s mane is said to be similar to lobster or crab meat.
Historically, lion’s mane was harvested from the wild. Now it’s fairly easy to cultivate in controlled environments.
Aside from being edible, lion’s mane is also used for its medicinal properties.
While lion’s mane sells for about $10 per pound when fresh, it can sell for significantly more when dried and powdered for use as a supplement.
Check out Growing Lion’s Mane Mushrooms: The Ultimate Guide if you’d like to try growing some for yourself.
5. Shiitake Mushrooms
Price: $10 to $25 per pound (£3.25 to £8 per kilogram), fresh
Shiitakes have been the favorite variety of mushrooms in many Asian countries for a while. They’re now quite popular in the west as well.
These fungi have a firm texture and a meaty flavor, which makes them great as a meat alternative in vegetarian recipes.
Many supermarkets and grocery stores now carry fresh shiitake mushrooms. They can also be found dried in bulk as well.
Shiitake mushrooms can be fairly easily cultivated, either indoor under controlled conditions, or outdoor when grown on logs. So they’re less expensive than most varieties on this list.
Although shiitake is mostly grown as an edible mushroom, it’s considered to have some medicinal benefits as well.
If you’ve got some spare logs laying around, try growing some shiitake using our resource How To Grow Mushrooms On Logs: The Ultimate Guide
Price: $30 to $90 (£21 to £65) per pound when fresh, $250 (£180) per pound or more dried.
Morels are some of the most sought-after varieties of fungus by mushroom hunters.
Once a mushroom hunter locates an area where morels grow, they’ll tend to keep it secret for just their family and friends. Morels will continue to grow back in the same place year after year.
Morels are very difficult to cultivate and they’re only available fresh for a few months each year in the wild. So they tend to command a high price.
They’re one of the most expensive mushrooms in the USA
7. Porcini Mushrooms
Price: $50 to $70 per pound (£15 to 22 per kilogram), dried
The porcini or king bolete mushroom is found in hardwood forests across Europe. They’re most common in Italy, although they can also be found in parts of North America as well.
You can recognize porcini mushrooms by their oversized caps and thick stems.
As with most expensive mushrooms, porcinis are difficult to cultivate.
So they’re harvested from the wild when they’re in season and then dried out to be sold around the world during the rest of the year.
Price: $200 per pound (£65 per kilogram), dried.
Among most mushroom hunters, chanterelles are second only to morels.
These golden-yellow mushrooms are distinct and fairly easy to spot, without many look-alikes. However, they can cause illness and discomfort when eaten raw and need to be cooked.
They tend to pop up on warm humid days after rainfall.
Like most expensive mushroom varieties, they’re very difficult to cultivate and the majority are harvested from the wild.
If you happen to get your hands on some tasty chanterelles, be sure to read 30 Of The Best Mushroom Recipe Ideas to make the most of them.
9. Black Truffles
Price: $800 per pound (£260 per kilogram)
Black truffles are the most well-known type of truffle. Even though they aren’t as expensive as white truffles, they still come with a hefty price tag.
Like their white counterparts, black truffles are mostly found in the wild using pigs and dogs.
Some American and Australian mushroom producers have attempted to grow black truffles with limited success.
Since these fungi tend to grow at the base of mature oak trees, it’s a time-consuming and expensive endeavor.
That also makes black truffles some of the most expensive mushrooms to grow.
Most black truffles are bought by chefs at high-end restaurants.
There is even a bit of a “black market” for these truffles. There are numerous fake “black truffle oil” products on the market that are actually made from synthetic chemicals, rather than fungi.
10. Matsutake Mushrooms
Price: $1,000 to $2,000 per pound (£325 to 650 per kilogram)
Matsutake mushrooms are native to Japan. They look a bit similar to shiitake mushrooms, with shaggy brown caps. However, they have longer stems.
This Japanese mushroom has a distinct spicy smell and taste.
Like with products such as green tea, there are varying degrees of quality when it comes to matsutake mushrooms.
The best-quality mushrooms at the beginning of the harvest season command the highest prices.
Within Japan, you may be able to find them toward the end of the season for as little as $2 per pound, though.
For importing matsutake mushrooms into Europe or North America, the average cost is about $90 (£65) per kilogram.
The matsutake harvest has been drastically reduced over the past 50 years due to a pine-killing pest that affects the trees that matsutake grows around.
11. European White Truffles
Price: Anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 per pound (£325 to £1,300 per kilogram), depending on the harvest that year.
White truffles are the rarest and most expensive of all the truffle varieties.
Although white truffles are actually quite common across Europe, they’re notoriously hard to find. Truffle hunters will often employ trained truffle dogs or pigs to help locate these expensive fungi.
So far, no farmer has successfully cultivated white truffles. That’s why the price still remains so high.
What Is the Most Expensive Mushroom in the World?
So what’s the most expensive mushroom in the world? The winner is…
The yartsa gunbu mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis).
Price: $50,000 per pound (£16,500 per kilogram), or $2,000 for a single ounce.
If you clicked this link while wondering how to grow the most expensive mushrooms in the world, things are about to get a little weird.
This mushroom is also known as the caterpillar fungus and for good reason. It infects the bodies of a specific species of caterpillars.
The fungus kills its host and then grows out of the caterpillar.
As you can imagine, these little mushroom fungi are hard to locate in the wild.
The caterpillars typically bury themselves a few inches into the ground before they die.
These mushrooms have also never been cultivated in a controlled environment.
Yartsa gunbu or cordyceps mushrooms are believed to be an aphrodisiac. It’s claimed to have other medicinal benefits as well.
Many people also simply eat them as a status symbol because of their rarity and cost.
Want to try growing something a bit more straightforward? See our article The five Easiest Mushrooms to Grow.
What Is the Rarest Mushroom?
The yartsa gunbu also wins the prize for rarest mushroom.
It’s not just that these mushrooms are only found in the wild growing out of caterpillars. They also only grow in a specific area as well.
These exceedingly rare and expensive mushrooms are mostly only found around the Himalayas, at altitudes from 3,000 to 5,000 meters (9,000 to 16,000 feet) above sea level.
Is There Any Cheaper Alternative?
Very few people are willing to pay $50,000 per pound (£16,500 per kilogram) for some mushrooms that grow out of caterpillars.
Luckily, there’s a much cheaper option.
While cordyceps sinensis is extremely rare and needs to be harvested from the wild, it does have a close relative that offers most of the same benefits.
Cordyceps militaris can be easily cultivated on much more conventional growing mediums (rice and soy) without the need to sacrifice insects to get it.
That means you can buy bottles of cordyceps militaris capsules for about $20 (£14.40), when the same amount of cordyceps sinensis would cost over $1,000 (£720).
There are some truly rare mushrooms out there, including some that cost thousands of dollars or pounds per serving.
What makes a particular type of mushroom expensive is usually an inability to cultivate it. Wild mushrooms only grow during a certain part of the year and they’re difficult to find.
Growing mushrooms doesn’t need to be expensive though.
If you’d like to try growing oyster mushrooms, our GroCycle Kits allow you to grow your own delicious mushrooms at home in just 14 days. They also make a great gift.
Or to grow them from scractch, check out our mushroom growing courses.
Whether you just want to grow a small amount of mushrooms at home or start a Low Tech Mushroom Farming business, we offer something for everyone.