On the other hand, they move an economic sector that is not negligible although it is very seasonal: it is estimated that 200 million euros are moved in Spain each year around the mushroom business.
As November is the month of mushrooms, especially if October has been rainy and warm, as has happened this year, we explain 10 curiosities that you did not know about the world of mushrooms and mushrooms in case you dare to enter this world and you like to go out into the bush on Saturdays for mushrooms instead of going to look at the Rolexes at the corner jewelry store.
They are neither plants nor animals
Mushrooms are the outer part of some fungi that live underground or within decaying organic matter. There are, however, many types of fungus because they are one of the five kingdoms in which we group living beings and, therefore, they are considered neither plants nor animals. They do not carry out photosynthesis like plants, nor are they capable of eating properly as we do in the animal kingdom.
In the kingdom of fungi, they range from those that live in our intestinal flora to the yeasts that ferment flour, vine or barley, through mould or those that attack the soles of our feet. And of course, also those who pick mushrooms.
They have among them the largest living being in the world
Especially the fungi that make mushrooms are characterized by living underground or within decomposing organic matter. Their job is to absorb the results of said decomposition to feed themselves and collect minerals from the soil.
These fungi, which are long networks of cell filaments arranged as if they were connected to train cars (mycelium), can pass minerals from one cell to another along each of the filaments (hyphae).
On the other hand, many of them are connected with the roots of the trees in a mixed organ called mycorrhiza. This organ is symbiotic; it is a collaboration center for both beings and allows the tree to contribute sugars to the fungus and the fungus to bring minerals from remote places to the tree through its filaments. In addition, a fungus can connect with several trees and even with an entire forest, thus forming a kind of organic internet for the said forest.
In the state of Oregon, in the North Pacific of the United States, a single fungus has been found that connects a 900-hectare forest, thus constituting the largest known living being on the planet.
It is suspected that such interconnected fungi can also move antibiotic substances from a tree apart from different types of information so that it could be said that they are the intelligence of the forest.
The mushroom is the genitalia of the fungus
Indeed, the mushroom is the gonads of the fungus, the organ that produces the spores through which the fungus mixes its genetic material. If you like, it can also be called the mushroom flower.
Under the mushroom hat, we can see radial blades known as ‘lamellae,’ which are the producers of spores that the wind or animals then spread. The fungus only makes the mushroom after a period of rain, as it has enough moisture to create these hydraulic structures, which are 90% water.
Only 0.0001% of mushrooms are edible
There is a joke among mycologists – scientists who study mushrooms – that says: “All mushrooms can be eaten, but most only once.” In reality, of the 600,000 existing species of mushrooms, only 600 are known as edible.
The rest present different levels of toxicity due to the alkaloids that they generate to protect themselves precisely from the attack of animals, and some are directly fatal. On the other hand, not all beings resist the same: the slug, for example, is 1,000 times more resistant than us to the toxicity of tickets.
Truffles are underground mushrooms
Truffles, both white (Tuber magnatum) and black (Tuber melanosporum), are tuberous formations of spores of a fungus that forms mycorrhizae with chestnut walnut, holm oak and oak from Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain) and that grow underground instead of surfacing.
Mushroom forests are already cultivated
For more than twenty years, the roots of newly germinated trees have been fumigated with spores of various fungi to form a mycorrhiza. Then they are planted in a field waiting for both the tree and the fungus to develop, and the latter ends up taking mushrooms after the rainy season, which can take about five years to happen. Also, the most modern techniques allow spraying the seed of a tree directly before planting it.
In autumn, with the arrival of the first rains, both mushrooms and fungi appear in the forest. The Ultima Mycological Park is one of the most frequented places for its collection, and one more year, they return to give fans this delicacy.
Covid19 has not prevented guided tours from being offered again in the Ultzama Mycological Park this year. Autumn is the best time to collect this delicacy, but its appearance has not been as abundant as expected this year. Among beech and oak trees, people fond of collecting these curious specimens hope to fill their baskets while enjoying the scenery.
More and more people climb the mountain like Attila. The mushroom is the goal at all costs. They see the euro symbol in the mushroom and destroy what they find, forgetting that the mushroom is something more than a portion of food or a product with which to do business. The mushroom is much more.
Convinced that there is another way to love this beloved treasure, the Leonesa Mycological Association ‘San Jorge’ again undertakes the adventure of organizing the 44th edition of León Mycological Week, which will begin this Monday, November 5.
Commerce Councilor Pedro Llamas thanked the Association for its work, assuring that it has more than 220 members and “offers in this cycle an opportunity to exchange impressions and guidelines to identify mushrooms and fungi.” He appealed to the hospitality industry along the same lines since “there is much to learn.”
From the Association, Rafael Gallego and Julián Cerezal pointed out that during the week, “not only scientific issues are discussed, but also practical issues.”
Likewise, they will have lectures, excursions and an exhibition, recalling the importance of “respecting the habitat of each mushroom. Otherwise, we will prevent it from germinating.”
About the mycological year, they regretted that “there are no mushrooms at the moment, these snows put an end to our illusions.”
The Association calls for the care of the mycological environment, to respect the field and not to forget that the mistake is to think of mushrooms only as a delicacy or an economic resource. We must raise awareness, and the week will be a good occasion to remember that the field is good for all.