Tuesday, October 19

10 curiosities of mushrooms that you may not know


A gastronomic delicacy par excellence in autumn and winter, mushrooms also stand out for their dietary value for weight control. And beyond the flavors and food, they are also related to many aspects of our popular culture – there are mobile applications to go out to look for mushrooms in the bush – and even ancestrally with our ancient religions.

Seven mobile apps to successfully hunt for mushrooms

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On the other hand, they move an economic sector that, although it is very seasonal, is not negligible: it is calculated that they move 200 million euros in Spain every year around the mushroom business.

As November is the month of mushrooms, especially if October has been rainy and warm, as has happened this year, we explain 10 curiosities that you ignored about the world of mushrooms and mushrooms in case you dare to enter this world and you like to go out to the mountains on Saturdays for mushrooms instead of going to look at the Rolex from the corner jewelry store.

1. They are neither plants nor animals

Mushrooms are the outer part of some fungi that they live underground or within decomposing organic matter. There are, however, many types of fungus, because in fact they are one of the five kingdoms in which we group living beings and, therefore, they are not considered neither plants nor animals. They do not carry out photosynthesis like plants, nor are they capable of eating properly as we do in the animal kingdom.

In the kingdom of fungi they range from those that live in our intestinal flora to yeast that ferment flour, vine or barley, passing through the mold or those that attack the soles of our feet. And of course, also those who pick mushrooms.

2. They have among them the largest living being in the world

Especially the fungi that make mushrooms are characterized by live underground or within decomposing organic matter. Their job is to absorb the results of said decomposition to feed themselves and they can also collect minerals from the soil.

These mushrooms, which are long webs of cell filaments Arranged as if they were connected train cars (mycelium), minerals can be passed from one cell to another along each of the filaments (hyphae).

On the other hand, many of them are connected with tree roots in a mixed organ called mycorrhiza. This organ is symbiotic, that is, it is a collaboration center for both beings and allows the tree to contribute sugars to the fungus and the fungus to bring minerals from remote places to the tree through its filaments. Also, a mushroom can be connect with multiple trees and even with a whole forest, thus forming a kind of organic internet for said forest.

Well, in the state of Oregon, in the North Pacific of the United States, a single fungus has been found that connects a 900 hectare forest, thus constituting the largest known living being on the planet.

It is suspected that this type of interconnected fungi can also move antibiotic substances from a tree apart from different types of information, so that it could be said that they are the intelligence of the forest.

3. The mushroom is the genitalia of the fungus

Indeed, the mushroom are the gonads of the fungus, the organ that produces the spores by which the fungus mixes its genetic material. If you like, it can also be called the mushroom flower.

Under the mushroom hat we can see some radial blades known as’lick them‘, which are the producers of the spores which is then disseminated by the wind or the animals. The fungus only makes the mushroom after a period of rain, as it has enough moisture to create these hydraulic structures, which are 90% water.

4. Only 0.0001% of mushrooms are edible

There is a joke between mycologists -scientists who study mushrooms- which says: “All mushrooms can be eaten, but most only once.” Actually, of the 600,000 species of existing mushrooms, only 600 are known as edibles.

The rest present different levels of toxicity due to the alkaloids that they generate to protect themselves precisely from the attack of animals, and some are directly fatal. On the other hand, not all beings resist the same: the slug, for example, is 1,000 times more resistant than us to the toxicity of tickets.

5. Truffles are underground mushrooms

The truffles, both the White (Tuber magnatum) as the black (Tuber melanosporum) are tuberous formations spore of a fungus that forms mycorrhizae with chestnut, walnut, holm and oak trees from Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain) and that grow underground instead of coming to the surface.

6. Mushroom forests are already cultivated

For more than twenty years the roots of newly sprouted trees are fumigated with spores of various fungi to form a mycorrhiza. Then they are planted in a field waiting for both the tree and the fungus to develop and the latter ends up taking mushrooms after the rainy season, which can take about five years to happen. Also the most modern techniques allow directly spray the seed of a tree before planting it.

7. Some mushrooms can be grown at home

Mushrooms saprophytes, decomposers of organic matter, such as mushrooms waves oyster mushroomsThey can be grown in a house if we have a dark, humid and cool area where we can let them work.

A mixture of straw and cattle feces which is fumigated with spores of the fungus and packed. Actually, these packs are already sold commercially and we just have to store and water them periodically. Little by little the fungus mushrooms will appear on the surface.

8. Some mushrooms walk

The myxomycetes are a very peculiar group of fungi, which form a kind of plasticine masses instead of underground filaments. They live by decomposing organic matter, especially wood from logs in humid forests and have live yellow, red or orange colors.

They look like a melted candle or a mass of plasticine and they move to find matter to decompose. They do this by creating currents of cellular plasma that push the fungus in a specific direction.

9. Mushrooms are the traditional religious drug of Europe

The relationship between mushrooms and witchcraft is long and rich, since some toxic mushrooms do not kill but do have a exciting or hallucinogenic effect that served in the ancient liturgies of the witches.

As a paradigm of this are the witch hoops, which are circles of mushrooms that appear in forest clearings and are technically called ‘arils’.

An ‘aril’ is the way in which the fungus tends to remove its entire string of mushrooms from one season, and is round in shape to better emit spores in all directions. They cannot always be fully appreciated, but in medieval Europe, when viewed, it was believed that in its center inhabited the devil.

On the other hand, story dwarfs to inhabit red hat mushrooms with white tips because this species of mushroom, Fly agaricIt is hallucinogenic and whoever ate it saw people deformed in their hallucinations.

It is also believed that there is an intimate relationship between mystics such as Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross and a fungus called ‘ergot of rye’, which affected rye bread and caused hallucinations to those who ate it.

It is also believed that El greco he was fond of hallucinogenic mushrooms, as well as Antoni Gaudí; From there, according to this theory, their peculiar aesthetic conceptions, with elongated shapes, bright colors and many curves in their geometry, would start.

10. There is a reason to catch them with a wicker basket

The wicker basket used by collectors has a ecological reason: help the fungus to expand. When we put the mushroom in the basket, it is drops spores that with our movement through the forest they fall to the ground through the holes left by the wicker braiding, so that we distribute them.

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