Mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, and morel, are perhaps the most well known edible non-timber forest product. Long-valued for their culinary and medicinal properties, specialty mushrooms have been enjoyed locally and are widely used.
For generations, many forest landowners have supplemented their income by gathering or cultivating special forest products (SFP) or non-timber forest products (NTFP) from forest lands. These products offer numerous new opportunities for increased income generation for forest landowners. However, without adequate planning, these enterprises may have risks and may foster economic growth without assurances that forest resources are managed in a sustainable fashion.
Before exploring new business opportunities, there is an urgent need to examine the markets for these products and to integrate these products into forest stewardship plans. Native Americans traditionally used plants and plant products for food and medicine and shared this knowledge with early settlers. These traditional forest products had become an integral part of rural economies. But for the most part, this knowledge has been ignored or forgotten.