Mushrooms. What are mushrooms? where have they came from? What an
alien-like figure flourishing from the earth. So what exactly is a mushroom
you ask? Well a mushroom is a species of Fungi. Fungus is a separate
race like plants, animals, etc.... It is its own group, a happy flourishing
flock of fungi, unique in its own little way. Fungi is used for many different
things. Breads require yeast which is a fungi, some fungi is needed is
different types of cheese. Saccharomyces carlsbergensis ( a fungus ) is
used in beer. Some detergents isn't possible without fungi. Even some
of our medicines are aided by fungi. In fact you may even have fungi growing
on you! Athlete's foot is a common foot disorder which you may hate, but
it is in fact a fungi.
Fungi is everywhere whether it is good or bad. Everyday you probably breath
in a lot of fungi spores! A fungi's spores is like a plants seeds
but a little different. For one fungi spores are extremely small to the
point where a single fungi spore cannot be seen without a telescope. This
of course means these spores are light in weight and can move in and out
through the air. And that means they are everywhere! In fact, the average
mushroom can produce millions and millions of spores! So why aren't we
up to our knees in mushrooms? Well, these spores can get extremely picky,
and the process of making a mushroom out of a spore is very complicated.
The average spore needs a lot of moisture. So any place that's hot is
a definite no for a mushroom spore. Then, a mushroom needs some food.
Since it don't make its own finding it when your nothing but a tiny ball
can be quite difficult. Luckily, usually 1 of them billion spores can
find a nice place to find food. Like a dead animal, or a tree stump, dead
leaves basically anything that is dead yet containing some nutrients.
Some fungi, and mainly were talking about mushrooms here, may have to
haggle with a friendly local, such as a tree. The deal is, the mushroom
mycelia ( its roots ) combine with the tree's roots and expands its
main source of food. When roots are your main source of food then getting
some new mushroom roots is only logical. But, the tree must hold up its
end of the bargain too. In return for the mushrooms mycelia, or mushroom
roots, the tree gives the mushroom food, nutrients etc..... So, the Mushroom
and the tree become partners helping each other get food and thus they
both live happily. Now, the other for a mushroom to benefit from a tree
is by simply becoming a parasite. A spore hits the tree. It sees the tree
has some nutrients, so it develops into a mushroom and in the process
sucks the trees food either injuring it, or destroying it. Yes, one tiny
little mushroom can totally destroy a healthy tree. Spores may also kill
another totally different type of organism for food purposes... Insects.
An ant, working on a blade of grass, then he sees a ball flying from the
sky! it hits his back, he thinks nothing more about it, then his back
starts to hurt, then he becomes weak, then there is mycelia in him, he
can move, he dies, and then, a mushroom grows from his now dead body.
The mushroom soon consumes the ant till there is nothing left of him!
And yes this does happen, everyday in fact. Mushroom spores land on insects,
then form mycelia and grow on them, consuming them in the process. Wait
a minute wait a minute! How on earth does a spore just turn into a mushroom?
Well the process in complex, first the spore or spores form mycelia, or
mushrooms roots, the mycelia is made form a delicate structure called
hyphae. The hypha then tangles together forming mycelia. Now, we have
mycelia, from the mycelia comes the veil. The veil is like a protective
shell for the mushroom as a baby. When the mushroom starts to grow it
brakes the veil as it pops out. The veil is almost like an egg if you
will. Now the doesn't completely go away, you can sometimes find its remains
at the bottom of the mushroom stem. Or, it turns into a ring
( have you ever noticed that ring around the mushroom stem? well that
is a, well its a ring! It is caused by the veil as it brakes away ). Or,
the veil turns into flakes at the top of the cap ( have you seen
a Fly Amanita? no? yes you have! its that mushroom with the white stem
and the bright red cap! when you hear the word 'mushroom' that probably
the mushroom you think of. Anyway, them white specs on the top of the
cap there is remains of the veil called 'flakes' ). What you think of
when you think of a mushroom you think of the stick and the little cap
on top making it look like an umbrella. What you are seeing there is actually
just the fruitbody. See the stem is just from leverage, I mean
really how can you release spores 1/9 of a inch to the ground? At the
top of the stem is the cap. Underneath the cap are usually Gills.
The gills are them flaps you see underneath the cap of the mushroom. On
these gills are the hymenium. All the hymenium is, is a nice area
of tissue forming the spores. It is located differently on different mushrooms.
On the regular mushroom it is located on the gills. There, on the hymenium,
on the gills, on the underside of the cap.... are the millions of spores.
Each gill containing anywhere from hundreds to billions of spores. These
spores are simply released into the atmosphere. They will float around
for a few days land on a nice juicy dead rodent and there the process
repeats itself. Now what I have just told you of the reproduction of mushrooms
is very dumbed down, but is still probably very hard to understand right
now. So, join me and the Mushroom Meadows Mycological union of East Tennessee
mushroom crew and learn even more about these great beings! Now, what
is this club like? what do I have to do? Do I do a lot of work or will
it be boring? Well, to see for yourself just click .
It is a very new club with very few members but we are growing and soon
hopefully we can inform the hole world about mushrooms and why we should
respect what they are and why they are here.
More mushroom information coming soon.