Mushrooms have a kind of double life:

- An aerial and fleeting life, that of the "seed carrier", scientifically named fruiting: this is the part that we see on the surface in the meadows and the woods, mostly in the fall, and that we harvest for edible species. There is something of the "fruit" of the mushroom which will spread the spores to reproduce the species. It grows quickly, within days, sometimes within hours, under certain conditions of temperature and humidity. It then persists for several days, sometimes weeks, and then decomposes.

- A long underground life, that of the mycelium: the mycelium is a perennial organization, formed by thinner than the hair filaments, which form a whole underground network generally concentrated in the first centimeters of the soil. It may be several tens to hundreds of square meters and thrive for tens or even hundreds of years. See in this our blog post entitled: the largest living being on Earth is a mushroom.

According to research in molecular biology, there would be an average of 3,000 different kinds of mycelia (waiting for optimal conditions) in a meter cube of wooded soil!

Mushrooms are organisms so special that specialists have dedicated their reign at hand, that of Funghi. They share both characteristics of the plant world and the animal world.

Such as plants, fungi are "seated" in the ground. As they are lacking chlorophyll, they are forced to use substances produced by other organisms, such as animals. They are classified into 3 categories:
- Saprophytes (or saprotrophic): they feed on dead organic matter and beneficial forest garbage, recycle and decompose plant and animal debris.
- Parasites: they take their food on living organisms to their detriment,
- Symbiotic (or mycorrhizal): they live in symbiosis with the host plant by providing water and minerals, and the plant provides organic nutrients.

They also contain chitin which is a nitrogen compound that is also found in the cuticle (shells) of insects and that is very difficult to digest for humans.

Forced to draw their nutrients in the soil, the fungi have developed a strong extraction capacity and are equipped with advanced enzyme systems. Absorption occurs through specific receptors located on the membranes of the mycelium, the underground and perennial filament portion of mushrooms. Therefore the fungi are able to extract the elements, stable or radioactive, present in their substrate. They also have the distinction of accumulating through a slow metabolism and their long life already cited.

Chlorophyllian plants are generally much less contaminated than the soil in which they grow: the root extraction of radioactive cesium is low. In some species of fungi, the phenomenon is reversed: the mycelium is able to concentrate cesium. See our blog post about the radioactivity of mushrooms.

Mycology is a science, the study of fungi. While it is useful to be familiar with in order to consume some of them, it is also useful to know their way of life in nature, in order to better preserve them.

You should know that without mushrooms, no more forests. Indeed the mycorrhizal species (60%) provide essential minerals to trees and other green plants, but especially the saprotrophic species (35%) transform organic matter into humus foster. They are the pioneers of deterioration and decomposition of leaves, branches and other dead trees.

In natural forests, those are the mushrooms that are arborists, loggers which slaughter only diseased or dead trees and then recycle logs and stumps. As for parasites (5%), very few compared to others, they play in nature as a regulator, so that the rulers plants do not invade spaces totally at the expense of other smaller species.

Knowing the vital role of mushrooms in ecosystems, how not to protect them, respect them, sublimate:

- Not a single timber, such as trees, grasses and many plants live without symbiosis with them,

- And when we know that only the fungi are able to break down the lignin and are involved in the breakdown of cellulose to make our soils that will grow our plants which are then eaten by animals.

Go to pick mushroom is always an adventure. For collectors, this is a communion with nature, it is a real treasure hunt! Mushrooms, related to the delightful, are part of our imagination. They are in all the pages of children's books, in all the stories and they grow in circles of witches! It does not need more to make them magical.

Is it always the greed that drives us from the dawn for random pickings? These are the seasons and humidity, such as a storm after a few days of heat, preparing the right conditions for beautiful outbreaks. If it is decided to heed the advice of our elders, avoid the new moon. The mycelium is to be the time and appear like mushrooms after five days it takes us just before the full moon. Some enthusiasts prefer picking out the new moon the other day of the full moon. Aficionados, on the lookout for any sign to jump in the woods, are willing to follow all the sayings in the aftermath of one another. Then, as time permits, go to pick mushroom! And know that all the moon changes are right.

If you are sensitive to mushroom artistic paces in their natural environment, we recommend the beautiful books of Benoît PEYREPhotographer and writer, he lives according to mushrooms growing. Enthusiast mycophile (= mushrooms lover) since childhood, he tracks down and crunches curiously the strange world of little beings undergrowth. 

Not satisfied with the quality level of pictures reproduced in books by major publishers, he chose to publish his very finest books himself. Each of the pictures reproduced in his books is treated with a selected varnish, making a masterpiece of each. We had never seen before such a level of excellence in the picture rendering: you feel like having in hands an album of photographic images of very high quality, not a book. We do not hesitate to say that the Benoît PEYRE books are works of art in themselves. Discover his last books:

- The King Porcini (38 €)

- Mushrooms picking secrets (29€)

- Mushrooms, the Truth from the False (19€80)


See also our blog article on mushroom picking.


Photo credit: Michel RICHARD - Société Mycologique du Haut-Rhin (Mycological Society of Upper Rhine)

Posted on 09/22/2016 Everything about mushrooms 0 4006

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