Maybe mushrooms can’t play tennis, but according to a mushroom researcher1 that’s about all they can’t do. In fact, the fun guy on the left moves like an octopus. The devil’s-fingers mushroom lives mostly underground, but when it’s time to reproduce it looks like it’s being born from an egg. It’s tentacles reach out and produce a putrid slime, which flies love. My guess is the slime feeds their spores.
Of course, there are many things mushrooms can’t do, but the researcher obviously knows how much they can. One of the most intriguing things they are capable of is growing their own antibiotics. Inject certain mushrooms with bacteria, and they will produce antibodies, which their “sweat” exudes and can be collected for human use. So, if you have a disease from bacteria, which is resistant to existing antibacterial medications, your little mushroom can serve as your personal pharmacy.
Another unlikely use is as building material. Many mushrooms fall apart in my hands so it surprised me that they could be made into strong, light furniture or bricks. In addition people are working on how they can be used in cleaning products, textiles, biofuels, biodegradable packaging—take a breath it goes on—insulation, wall tiles, particleboard, a styrofoam substitute, and more. Seems like a new area of research.
My last post made me hungry for the mushroom soup soup I had in Prague. From googling I think it was made from wild morels. There are evidently around 1.5 million different kinds of mushrooms with 10,000 known edible ones. Who knew from our grocery store offerings? I found wood-ear and oyster mushrooms in an Asian market and mixed them. It turned out yummy.
I’ll end my internet mushroom hunting with another weird one. I love the names the biologists come up with. At one time I thought only physicists had amusing names for their discoveries.
PS: Of the mushrooms in my last post, the ones which are edible are: turkey tail, stinkhorns in their egg stage, veiled lady, some brain mushrooms, indigo milkcaps, amethyst receivers (but can absorb arsenic from soil), and lion’s mane. Some are unknown, and some smell so bad it doesn’t matter as no one wants to eat them. I came across a recommendation not to trust apps for identifying edibles in the wild. I don’t need to be told twice.
- Tradd Cotter, mushroom researcher and cultivator for a company called Mushroom Mountain