Interesting Facts about Mushrooms

Mushrooms aren’t just a source of culinary delight: they’re also a treasure trove of fungi facts. For example, did you know that mushrooms are one of the few living things on earth with no brain? And, in fact, there’s more mushroom DNA than human? Or what about the fact that some mushrooms can be as small as 1mm across, or others as big as 100 feet wide (which makes them the biggest living thing on Earth)?

For more interesting facts like these, read on!

1. Mushroom in the Field of Art

Mushroom in the Field of Art 

Mushrooms are readily used to create art by artists as they symbolize different things depending on various cultures. For instance, mushrooms represent a dream-like or trance situation in Mayan culture. Due to the significance of mushrooms in art, a separate registry of mushrooms in works of art exists so that it is widely recognized. [1]

2. Mushrooms are Not Plants or Vegetables

Mushrooms are Not Plants or Vegetables  

Although mushrooms have some common characteristics with plants, they are not categorized as vegetables or fruits. Mushrooms belong to their own separate kingdom called fungi, characterized as plants lacking chlorophyll. Fungi cannot make their food from sunlight. Instead, they receive their required nutrients from dead and decaying matter from the soil. [2]

3. Mushrooms are the Most Suitable for Solving the Global Food Crisis

Mushrooms are the Most Suitable for Solving the Global Food Crisis  

Mushrooms are one of the least demanding plants to grow. There is no long list of requirements you need to fulfill to grow a particular type of mushroom crop. However, they provide heaps of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to meet the recommended daily nutrient intake. It is why mushrooms are often termed an excellent option for solving the global food crisis. [3]

4. Some Mushrooms Glow in the Dark

Some Mushrooms Glow in the Dark

These glow-in-the-dark mushrooms were discovered about 100 years ago in Brazil by George Gardner. He thought the children were playing with giant fireflies, but they turned out to be big, glowing fungi that grew on rotting palm fronds.

Since then, about 80 different bioluminescence mushrooms have been discovered. These mushrooms attract bees, wasps, etc., that help spread their spores to reproduce further and colonize. [4]

5. Laetiporus sulphureus Mushroom is called Chicken of the Woods

Laetiporus sulphureus Mushroom is called Chicken of the Woods  

This specie of mushroom grows high up the trunk of trees, such as an oak trees. It is pretty easily spotted as it is bright orange and multi-layered. It has velvety flesh inside, which tastes exactly like fried chicken. It is the best alternative to chicken for vegetarians, and they have their own interesting ways to incorporate these mushrooms in various dishes. [5] 

6. The Largest Mushroom on Earth is Bigger than an Elephant or a Whale

The Largest Mushroom on Earth is Bigger than an Elephant or a Whale 

If you think that a whale or an elephant is the biggest living thing on earth, then know about Armillaria ostoyae, also known as honey mushroom. It is the largest living organism on earth and covers an area of about 3,7265,63 square meters. It is present in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, USA. Honey mushrooms are approximately 8,650 years old. [6]

7. Alba White Mushroom is the Most Expensive Mushroom

Alba White Mushroom is the Most Expensive Mushroom

Alba White Mushrooms or Truffles are pretty rare. Their feasible cultivation conditions are so difficult to match that these mushrooms take quite a large amount of money and time to cultivate. Thus, these mushrooms are the most expensive ones. Fresh White Truffles cost about $6,560.31 per pound. [7]

8. Portobello, Button, and Cremini Mushrooms are the same

Portobello, Button, and Cremini Mushrooms are the same  

It is a common mistake to consider Portobello, Button, and White Cremini mushrooms as different. They all belong to the same species of mushrooms called Agaricus bisporus but do not share the same level of maturity. [8]

9. The United States is one of the Biggest Consumers of Fresh Mushrooms in the World

The United States is one of the Biggest Consumers of Fresh Mushrooms in the World  

According to statistics, Americans consumed approximately 2.79 pounds of fresh mushrooms per capita. The facts show that the per capita consumption of fresh mushrooms has significantly decreased compared to 2009 (3.57 pounds per capita consumption). [9]

10. The Deadliest Mushroom is called the Death Cap

The Deadliest Mushroom is called the Death Cap  

The death cap mushroom, also called Amanita phalloides, can instantly kill. It might not show symptoms in the person who consumed it for six to twenty-four hours, but its main toxic component, α-amanitin, primarily attacks the liver. It causes liver derangement resulting in instant hemorrhagic liver necrosis. 

The symptoms might include extremely low blood pressure levels, nausea, and vomiting, typically appearing after 8-12 hours of consuming it. The death cap mushroom resembles other nontoxic mushrooms so much that mushroom foragers are constantly warned about them. They are commonly found in Western Washington. [10]

11. There are Still So Many Species of Fungi We Do Not Know 

Scientific estimates reflect that the world only knows about 10% of the fungal species, including about 148,000 species. There is still 90% of the fungi we do not know about. The total number of fungi existing on earth is estimated to be somewhere between 2 to 3 million. [11]

12. Romans Considered Mushrooms as the Food of Gods

Romans Considered Mushrooms as the Food of Gods  

Historical narrations reveal how arch Romans loved mushrooms. They were served at the aristocratic feasts and devoured widely. Romans loved having Amanita, Boletus, and truffles. They also consumed various wild Agaricus species. A famous quote by Nero is that mushrooms were the food of gods. [12]

13. Mushrooms are More Similar to Man than Plants according To DNA Makeup

Mushrooms are More Similar to Man than Plants according To DNA Makeup  

People are likely assumed to mistake mushrooms for plants rather than humans. However, science has something else to say: the genetic makeup of fungi is more similar to that of humans than plants. Scientific research by Baldauf and Palmer highlighted that 25 proteins and DNA sequences of fungi match the most with humans. [13] 

14. The Medicinal Importance of Mushrooms Dates Back to Thousands of Years

The Medicinal Importance of Mushrooms Dates Back to Thousands of Years  

For many generations, medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine. As China is responsible for about 70% of the world’s mushroom production, it is regarded as one of the oldest components of Chinese medicine. For instance, the use of shiitake mushrooms dates back to the 12th century by Chinese medicine experts. [14]

15. Toxic and Nontoxic Mushrooms Look Very Much Alike

Toxic and Nontoxic Mushrooms Look Very Much Alike  

Do not go finding mushrooms on your own in the backyard or a forest, as deadly mushrooms do not look very different than the edible ones. Often, people mistake numerous non-edible species of mushrooms for edible ones, and unforeseeable incidents happen.

It is why mushroom foragers have to be extremely cautious when picking up mushrooms from cultivation. 

16. You Can Also Use Mushrooms for Dyeing

You Can Also Use Mushrooms for Dyeing

Some species of mushrooms contain blue-green pigments that are very effective in dyeing wool. Mushrooms are used to create fabric color dyes through color extraction, usually carried out with a solvent, such as ammonia. [15]

17. 15th October is the National Mushroom Day

15th October is the National Mushroom Day  

If you happen to love mushrooms, then 15th October is a special day for you. It is celebrated as the National Mushroom Day in various countries and is marked by restaurants and cafes offering unique mushroom dishes. It is a day when different related professionals, such as mushroom farmers and nutritionists, highlight the essential health benefits of the mushrooms. [16]

18. The Fly Agaric Mushroom Resembles the Super Mario Bros 

There exists a mushroom that looks the same as the Super Mario Bros, and it is no coincidence that Nintendo staged this. The Super Mario Bros mushrooms are called Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) and are characterized by their hallucinogenic properties. These mushrooms distort the size of any perceived object just like the game character does. [17]

19. There is a Mushroom Called a Fairy Ring

There is a Mushroom Called a Fairy Ring  

A mushroom called a fairy ring is named after its natural appearance. It has a perfect ring outline which is always symmetrical. These mushrooms can grow in any favorable spot, whether in a garden or in cultivation.

The fairy ring starts to form when a mushroom spawn lands on a favorable spot and initiates an underground network of tubular threads. The spores give off hyphae in all directions in an even manner. Thus, a circular mat of mushrooms forms. [18]

20. Mushrooms Grow in All the 50 States of the US 

Mushrooms are almost everywhere, whether it is indoors or outside. Edible mushrooms grow throughout the year and in all the 50 states of the US. Pennsylvania is the top mushroom grower in the country as about 63% of the white mushrooms are grown here.  

Conclusion

There is much to find in Mushrooms, and that is why you should get to know them. Mushrooms are not made from a plant’s root or stem, but they are actually the fruiting body of a larger organism. These kinds of mushrooms can be eaten and fit salads, stir-frys, soups, omelets, stuffings, and more.

Aside from being edible and delicious, mushrooms also have other uses. There are many medicinal benefits that come from eating a mushroom or using them for your skincare needs. However, the best thing about them is they do not have a season, so you can always eat them.

References 

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2020/jan/18/the-magic-of-mushrooms-in-arts-in-pictures 
  2. https://grocycle.com/are-mushrooms-vegetables
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/are-mushrooms-good-for-you#Nutritional-benefits-of-eating-mushrooms 
  4. https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/26/15437832/glow-in-the-dark-mushrooms-bioluminescent-lucifer-molecule-chemical 
  5. https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/chicken-of-the-woods-mushroom 
  6. https://www.bibalex.org/SCIplanet/en/Article/Details?id=13515 
  7. https://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/alba-fresh-winter-white-truffles-from-italy-12357 
  8. https://www.campbellsoup.co.uk/blog/7-facts-mushrooms-bet-didnt-know
  9. https://www.statista.com/statistics/257314/per-capita-consumption-of-fresh-mushrooms-in-the-us/ 
  10. https://slate.com/technology/2014/02/most-dangerous-mushroom-death-cap-is-spreading-but-poisoning-can-be-treated.html 
  11. https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ppp3.10148 
  12. https://www.crazyaboutmushrooms.com/2015/05/24/romans-mushrooms-roman-tic-comedy/ 
  13. https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/23/1/93/1193358?login=false 
  14. https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/07/16/the-science-of-medicinal-mushrooms 
  15. https://spinoffmagazine.com/5-reasons-dye-mushrooms
  16. https://www.goodfruitandvegetables.com.au/story/6988706/national-mushroom-day-given-air-time/ 
  17. https://biofriendlyplanet.com/image-of-the-day/super-mario-mushroom/ 
  18. https://www.britannica.com/science/fairy-ring