Maitake (Hen-of-the-woods) grows from an underground tuber-like structure known as a sclerotium, about the size of a potato. The fruiting body, occurring as large as 100 centimetres (40 inches), rarely 150 cm (60 in), is a cluster consisting of multiple grayish-brown caps which are often curled or spoon-shaped, with wavy margins and 2–10 cm (1–4 in) broad.
The species is a choice edible mushroom. Maitake mushrooms are rich in Vitamins B and C, beta-glucans, antioxidants, minerals, amino acids and has been consumed for centuries in China and Japan where it is one of the major culinary mushrooms. The mushroom is used in many Japanese dishes, such as nabemono. The softer caps must be thoroughly cooked.