Typical mushroom has a stem and a cap with gills on the bottom side of it. Mushroom is not a plant or animal. Its DNA shares more similarities with DNA of humans than with DNA of plants.
A mushroom is neither a fruit nor a vegetable; technically mushrooms aren’t even plants.
Mushrooms recycle dead plants and return valuable nutrients into the ground. They are often used for degradation of dangerous substances such as oils, pesticides and industrial waste.
Mushrooms are a type of fungi; Fungi are living organisms that are distantly related to plants, and more closely related to animals, but rather different from either of those groups.
Many plants live in symbiosis (called mycorrhizal relationship) with mushrooms. Mycelium (thread-like mass of hyphae) of fungi nourishes the root of plant with nutrients, and in return it gets food that plant produces.
All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms.
To ensure successful growth and enough food for themselves, mushrooms produce antibiotics to eliminate competition. One of the best known antibiotics - penicillin, is obtained from the fungi called Penicillium.
Many mushroom species are important decomposers, metabolizing non living organic matter. This means they break down and “eat” dead plants. However, many species have a special, symbiotic, “mycorrhizal” relationship with particular species of plants. Often, neither the mushroom nor the plant will grow without a mycorrhizal partner.
Mushrooms are made of 90% of water. They are often described as "forest meat" due to high content of proteins (they contain more proteins than peanuts, corn and soybean). Some mushrooms, such as Laetiporus, even taste like chicken.
Roughly speaking, mushrooms are: 50% inedible but harmless, 25% edible, but not incredible, 20% will make you sick, 4% will be tasty to excellent, 1% can kill you.
Edible mushrooms are good source of vitamins of the B group and minerals such as copper and potassium (some species contain more potassium than banana).
Mushrooms grow throughout the year but are most plentiful in autumn. While cultivated mushrooms may be available anytime, most wild mushrooms only appear in autumn.
The most popular mushrooms used in human diet are white button mushrooms. China is the greatest producer of mushrooms in the world.
Edible mushroom species have been found in association with 13,000-year-old archaeological sites in Chile. Ötzi, the mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 BC in Europe, was found with two types of mushroom.
Collecting of wild mushrooms is also known as mushrooming or mushroom hunting.
Edible mushrooms are consumed for their nutritional value and they are occasionally consumed for their supposed medicinal value. Mushrooms consumed by those practicing folk medicine are known as medicinal mushrooms.
Due to large number of poisonous mushrooms in the wild that often resemble the edible varieties, collecting (and eating) of wild mushrooms is not recommended unless a person is an expert for this field.
In a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) amount, raw mushrooms provide 22 calories.
Around 70 species of mushrooms from Mycena family glow in the dark. They can be used as "torches" to light the way through the forest.
Mushrooms are the only vegetarian food that can make vitamin D. Actually, they contain a “pro-vitamin,” or precursor, called ergosterol that is converted into vitamin D when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation—similar to how your skin synthesizes the vitamin in response to sun exposure.
Mushrooms reproduce via spores produced in the gills. Spores are made of tough substance (chitin) and they can remain dormant for decades or even centuries.
Mushrooms are also great sources of protein, fiber, B vitamins (especially niacin), vitamin C, calcium, minerals, and selenium. They also contain antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms, such as ergothioneine, which according to studies is a highly powerful antioxidant.
Mushrooms were used as a source of pigment for dyeing of fabrics in the past.
The health benefits of mushrooms include relief from high cholesterol levels, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and diabetes. They also help in weight loss and increase the strength of your immune system.
Mushrooms are used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
More than 75 species of bioluminescent mushrooms exist on Earth, and though some may be drab during the daytime, all are mesmerizing at night.
Modern studies showed that mushrooms have excellent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used to reduce blood cholesterol level, to boost immune system and in treatment of different types of cancer.
The chicken of the woods is a very tasteful mushroom found all over the world. It’s called the “chicken of the woods” because of its remarkable resemblance to chicken meat when cooked properly.
The largest and the oldest mushroom in the world can be found in Blue Mountains of Oregon. It covers 2.200 acres of land and its age is estimated to 2.400 years.
Long before trees overtook the land, Earth was covered by giant mushrooms 7.3 meters (24 feet) tall and 0.9 meters (3 feet) wide, these giant spires dotted the ancient landscape.