Getting Acquainted: Mushrooms

To some, panic strikes when they find a mushroom growing in their garden or container and after a brief flight or fight moment, the mushroom is being pulled out and eliminated from the environment. I never really paid attention to mushrooms before and the moments when I found a cute one during a hike my mind would automatically link it to either magic mushrooms or a Smurfs’ home.

A few weeks back, with one of my favorite friends “Indy” (nickname he has received due to his adventurous life style) as we shared a coffee and a chat in our version of Fight Club (an adorable restaurant/cafe where we hang), the topic of Mushrooms made its way to the table. As I mentioned before my knowledge of mushrooms was extremely poor yet the conversation sparked my curiosity. Two days later during my usual early bird routine with my plants I received a message from the universe, a fragile mushroom sprouted from one of my containers.IMG_20160619_122836

And here stands my confession I was so tempted to yank it out, yet I decided to let it be until I as many of you would find the opportunity to embrace the time we live in and I added it to my list of “Thing to Google”.

Couple days after, I stood before my Morning Glory container, home of Noel and Liam (yes, I name my plants, and these two are dedicated to the Gallagher brothers 1995 CD) and here is what I found.

IMG_20160626_130442

I freaked out again, “Shit, my plants are sick!” hysteria took me to my laptop. As I was reading I found several opinions on what to do. Some were extremely drastic saying to throw the plant away, others in a more conservative tone suggested soil change. Over watering and infected potting soil were considered the cause. Very few sites considered letting them be. A couple of the ones that did were then followed by paragraphs on how to eliminate them. With a whip lash effect from the “leave them then here is how to eliminate them” it was clear to me that I needed to give this a closer look.

Human beings are more closely related to fungi then to plants, we actually share 30% of our DNA.

Mushrooms differ from plants because they do not possess chlorophyll (the green pigment that allows plants to manufacture sugar from the sun’s energy). Mushrooms live in their food and absorb nutrients by excreting extracellular enzymes which degrade complex organic matter into simple sugars which can then be absorbed by the mushroom. This led to Mycorrhiza (from Greek mukês for mushroom and rhiza for root), a complex relationship between fungi and plants which allows them both to survive and tolerate unusual conditions. Fungi attaches itself to the plant either by penetrating the roots or by forming a coat around them, it is then that the exchange begins. The Fungi feeds the sugar which the plant creates by photosynthesis and in return the provides water, nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (K) that otherwise the plant can’t absorb. 

There is still too much for me to learn on the subject. Will schedule a visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

 

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. jansweeps says:

    Nice article for someone who doesn’t know anything about fungi. 🙂 You didn’t mention if you were interested in eating the mushrooms but if you are or maybe even mildly curious about some of the edible ones there’s a really good book out there called Mushrooms Demystified. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0898151694/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_6?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
    As for mushrooms growing in containers, I just leave them alone. Mushrooms are often a short lived plant and will die off on it’s own anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback. About eating the mushrooms not for now, don’t know enough yet. I will contact the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to see if I can get my hands on some material. It’s something I would really like to do at some point, once I can actually identify them.

      Like

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