Mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of several species of macro fungi. They are known for their mild flavor and propensity to blend and add flavor to whatever dish they're added. Not all the mushrooms are edible. Some are really poisonous. The edible mushrooms have desirable taste, mild flavor, aroma and obviously not poisonous. Mushrooms make a good blend with pizza, paste, steaks, salads and other dishes. Do you know there are so many interesting facts about mushrooms? Let’s share some of fascinating mushroom facts you probably didn’t know before!!
Top 15 interesting facts about mushrooms!!
1. History of mushrooms dates back to 4600 years!!The term “mushroom” is derived from the French word “mousseron”, referring to moss (mousse). The history of mushrooms dates back to 4600 years ago. In ancient time, people believed that mushrooms were supernatural and mystical plants. The Egyptians believed that mushrooms were the plants of immortality. Therefore, only the royals and Pharaohs could eat mushrooms. The Roman believed that mushrooms were the food of the gods. Interestingly, such myths about mushrooms still persist today in some cultures. For thousands of years, the Chinese and Japanese have used mushrooms for medicinal purposes. It is said that "Lentinus edodes”, commonly known as Shiitake, was originally cultured in China about 800 years ago. Today, mushrooms are widely used as food and in medicine preparations.
2. The nickname of mushrooms is “toadstools”!!Funny that mushrooms are nicknamed toadstools because they are perfect sitting spots for toads. However, the term “toadstool” traces back to middle ages referring to highly poisonous toads. Therefore, people believe that toadstools are the poisonous mushrooms.
3. These are packed with essential nutrients!!You will be amazed to know that mushrooms are 90% water. Despite it, the edible mushrooms are rich in nutrients particularly Vitamin B, copper and potassium. A single piece of Portabella mushroom contains potassium equivalent to banana. Mushrooms are used in so many different cuisines. They are known as the "meat" of the vegetable world.
4. Mycophagist - the person who collects edible mushrooms!!The person who collects mushrooms as food source is called as “Mycophagist”. The terms “mushroom hunting or mushrooming” refers tit the process of collecting edible mushrooms.
5. The Mario Mushrooms are somewhat real!!Remember the super fun game “Super Mario Bros” in which eating the red and white mushrooms in game make you bigger in size. Well, the Mario Mushrooms are somewhat real and they are called “Amanita Muscaria”. Amanita Muscaria is red mushroom with white spots. It typically grows in temperate and boreal zones of the Northern Hemisphere. Amanita Muscaria is slightly poisonous. Though not lethal, but it cause certain side effects including dizziness, loss of balance, blurred vision, muscles spasm, nausea and vomiting etc. On the other hand, if used in smaller dose, Amanita Muscaria is strong stimulant. This is because it contains several potent alkaloids. Two most significant psychoactive alkaloids are ibotenic acid and muscimol. Due to these potent alkaloids and being potent stimulant, eating this mushroom gives similar effects to game “Super Mario Bros”. When you eat this mushroom, first you feel energetic, then drowsy and in third phase, it psychedelic effects appear. It is believed that the person experiences mystical nature, awareness of extraordinary realities, delightful and sometimes terrifying sensation.
6. Laetiporus –mushroom that almost tastes like fried chicken!!Laetiporus is an edible mushroom of bright orange color. It grows in wild and surprisingly it tastes almost exactly like the fried chicken. For the reason, it is commonly known as “the chicken of the woods”. You may find this amazing genus of mushroom in the wilds of eastern North America.
7. Ever heard of magic mushroom?Magic Mushrooms are the wild type of mushrooms that contain psilocybin – a natural psychoactive and hallucinogenic compound. This psychoactive compound was identified and isolated by Dr. Albert Hofmann in 1958. Magic mushrooms look like dried edible mushrooms. They can be eaten or brewed like tea for drinking. Our body changes the psilocybin component into psilocin which interferes with the serotonin levels in the brain. Therefore, the person can see, hear; we feel euphoria and sensations that seem real but are not. Magic mushrooms have long history of use for spiritual experiences and self-discovery. In some cultures, people believe that herbs and plants such as magic mushrooms are sacred herbs. Moreover, they enable people to achieve spirituality and mystical powers. True or not, but magic mushrooms are quite interesting topic to explore more.
8. Reishi – the mushroom of immortality!!The Reishi mushroom, or the Ganoderma lingzhi, is red colored, kidney-shaped mushroom. The Chinese call it “Reishi”. The mushroom has numerous health benefits. Moreover, it is rich in antioxidants that promote physical and mental health and thus adds to average life expectancy. For the reason, Chinese use it in medicinal preparations and call it “the mushroom of immortality”.
9. China is the largest mushroom cultivator!China is the leading cultivator as well as consumer of world’s most of edible mushrooms. Next to Chine, comes United States, Italy, Netherlands and Poland respectively.
10. Mushrooms that grow in dark!!There are about 30 species of mushroom that literally glow in the dark. This phenomenon is called “bioluminescence” in which the plant or the organism produces a glowing light known as foxfire. In some regions, people grow these bioluminescent fungi on the way through woods so as to light their ways at night. Chlorophos Mycena fungus releases luminous spores and this is such an astonishing and spectacular view. If you ever visit Brazil or Japan, you may be lucky enough to see this marvel of nature.
11. Honey mushroom - Armillaria ostoyae is world’s largest living organism!!Another of interesting facts about mushrooms!! As per the Guinness Book of World Record, the largest living organism is Armillaria ostoyae. It is a single huge mushroom. It is located in Malheur National Forest, Oregon, USA. The honey mushroom is popular for its bioluminescence properties. Interestingly, most of its tissue is about 3 feet underground, in the form of root-like mycelia. The experts suggest that these fungi may be as much as 8,650 years old. Moreover, it weighs in between 7,500 and 35,000 US tons. Incredible!
12.Mushroom spores are heat resistant!!Mushroom spores are made up of sporopollenin. This is one of the hardest natural materials. That’s why; mushroom spores can survive extreme temperature and vacuum.
13. Mushrooms - the natural organic dyes!!Mushrooms contain organic compounds that serve as natural dye. Therefore, before the invention of synthetic dyes, people used mushrooms for dyeing wool and other natural fibers.
14. Amanita phalloides - The most lethal mushroom!!Amanita phalloides, commonly known as death angle and death cap, is most poisonous mushroom. Also, it is the deadliest organism on earth. Surprisingly, it looks like the usual edible mushrooms and also tastes rather nice. It’s unfortunate that once it is ingested, there is no chance of survival. It contains a chemical amatoxin, that is extremely toxic. Also Read: Interesting facts about white chocolate
15. Fun fact!!People in middle ages believed that the mushrooms grew at night on the soil where witches had had a Sabbath. Interesting!! So these were some exciting and interesting facts about mushrooms. Stay tuned for such amazing content. . Pictures courtesy: