Wild Mushrooms - A fascination, a hobby and a devotion
If you are like me then you may have a weakness for all things wild and edible. If that is the case, becoming skilled at identifying wild mushrooms is much more than just a way to get some tasty free food, it can turn into quite and obsession!
(fungi) are a strange thing, here are some facts that may surprise you - they certainly did me:
they are all from the same family tree
- Fungi is the common term to cover what we call mushrooms and toadstools
we commonly categorise things as either animal, mineral or vegetable, well guess what...fungi fits none of them! Fungi is a classification unique to itself.
- Fungi are neither fish nor fowl!
they don't photosynthesize, nor do they breath.
- Fungi do not need any sunlight to grow
- Fungi have what is called a "mycorrhizal " relationship with trees
In short, this means "The common association formed between the mycelium (thread like strands that are the main part of the fungi) of a fungus and the roots of certain plants, notably oaks, beeches, nearly all the heath family, and most orchids.
The association is a symbiotic one, of advantage to both organisms(although not in all cases, Chicken of the Woods eventually kills the host Oak tree). Plants that rely on mycorrhizal relationships should be transplanted with some of their native soil if possible(to try to make sure there is some mycelium in the soil)".
- Fungi are the largest living organisms in the world, by a long way!
What is probably the largest living organism on earth has been discovered in the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon. A fungus living three feet underground is estimated to cover 2,200 acres.
Scientists tested lots of samples and found to their disbelief that it is all one organism. The officially name is the Armillaria ostoyae, or the honey mushroom, (because of the colour not the taste) the fungus is 3.5 miles across and takes up 1,665 football fields. The small mushrooms (fruiting bodies) visible above ground are only the tip of the iceberg. Experts estimate that the giant mushroom is at least 2,400 years old, but could be 7,200 years old - and at this age, one of the oldest lising things on earth as well.
Previously, the world's largest organism was another Armillaria ostoyae, which covers a mere 1,500 acres near Mt. Adams in Washington state.
- The most poisonous fungi is the Amanita phalloides (Death Cap)
The yellowish-olive death cap is responsible for 90% of all fatal poisonings caused by fungi. Less than 1.8 oz. will cause vomiting, delirium, collapse, and then death in humans.
It is said to be a horrible death, this is the most deadly fungus known, and despite years of detailed research into the toxins it contains, no antidote exists against their effects on the human body. Poisoning by Amanita phalloides is characterized by a delay of between six and twenty-four hours from the time of ingestion to the onset of symptoms, during which time the cells of the liver and kidneys are attacked.
However, if a gastroirritant has also been consumed- e.g., as the result of eating a mixed collection of mushrooms-gastric upset may occur without the characteristic delay, masking this vital diagnostic evidence. The next stage is one of prolonged and violent vomiting and diarrhea accompanied by severe abdominal pains, lasting for a day or more.
Typically this is followed by an apparent recovery, when the victim may be released from the hospital or think his ordeal over. Yet within a few days death may result from kidney and liver failure. In the last hours before death, victims are said to have a intollerable feeling of depression!
· If you go collecting MAKE SURE you know this species.