Mushroom
Overview
A mushroom is the fleshy, spore
Spore
In biology, a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many bacteria, plants, algae, fungi and some protozoa. According to scientist Dr...

-bearing fruiting body
Sporocarp (fungi)
In fungi, the sporocarp is a multicellular structure on which spore-producing structures, such as basidia or asci, are borne...

 of a fungus
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

 source. The standard for the name "mushroom" is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus; hence the word "mushroom" is most often applied to those fungi (Basidiomycota
Basidiomycota
Basidiomycota is one of two large phyla that, together with the Ascomycota, comprise the subkingdom Dikarya within the Kingdom Fungi...

, Agaricomycetes
Agaricomycetes
Agaricomycetes is a class of fungi. The taxon is roughly identical to that defined for the Homobasidiomycetes by Hibbett & Thorn, with the inclusion of Auriculariales and Sebacinales. It includes not only mushrooms but also most species placed in the deprecated taxa Gasteromycetes and...

) that have a stem (stipe
Stipe (mycology)
thumb|150px|right|Diagram of a [[basidiomycete]] stipe with an [[annulus |annulus]] and [[volva |volva]]In mycology a stipe refers to the stem or stalk-like feature supporting the cap of a mushroom. Like all tissues of the mushroom other than the hymenium, the stipe is composed of sterile hyphal...

), a cap (pileus
Pileus (mycology)
The pileus is the technical name for the cap, or cap-like part, of a basidiocarp or ascocarp that supports a spore-bearing surface, the hymenium. The hymenium may consist of lamellae, tubes, or teeth, on the underside of the pileus...

), and gills (lamellae, sing. lamella) or pores on the underside of the cap.

"Mushroom" describes a variety of gilled fungi, with or without stems, and the term is used even more generally, to describe both the fleshy fruiting bodies of some Ascomycota
Ascomycota
The Ascomycota are a Division/Phylum of the kingdom Fungi, and subkingdom Dikarya. Its members are commonly known as the Sac fungi. They are the largest phylum of Fungi, with over 64,000 species...

 and the woody or leathery fruiting bodies of some Basidiomycota
Basidiomycota
Basidiomycota is one of two large phyla that, together with the Ascomycota, comprise the subkingdom Dikarya within the Kingdom Fungi...

, depending upon the context of the word.

Forms deviating from the standard morphology
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

 usually have more specific names, such as "puffball
Puffball
A puffball is a member of any of several groups of fungus in the division Basidiomycota. The puffballs were previously treated as a taxonomic group called the Gasteromycetes or Gasteromycetidae, but they are now known to be a polyphyletic assemblage. The distinguishing feature of all puffballs is...

", "stinkhorn
Stinkhorn
The Phallaceae are a family of fungi, commonly known as stinkhorn mushrooms. Belonging to the fungal order Phallales, the Phallaceae have a worldwide distribution, but are especially prevalent in tropical regions. They are known for their foul smelling sticky spore masses, or gleba, borne on the...

", and "morel
Morel
Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi. These distinctive mushrooms appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them....

", and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called "agaric
Agaric
An agaric is a type of fungal fruiting body characterized by the presence of a pileus that is clearly differentiated from the stipe , with lamellae on the underside of the pileus. "Agaric" can also refer to a basidiomycete species characterized by an agaric-type fruiting body...

s" in reference to their similarity to Agaricus
Agaricus
Agaricus is a large and important genus of mushrooms containing both edible and poisonous species, with possibly over 300 members worldwide...

or their place Agaricales
Agaricales
The fungal order Agaricales, also known as gilled mushrooms , or euagarics, contains some of the most familiar types of mushrooms. The order has 33 extant families, 413 genera, and over 13000 described species, along with five extinct genera known only from the fossil record...

.
Encyclopedia
A mushroom is the fleshy, spore
Spore
In biology, a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many bacteria, plants, algae, fungi and some protozoa. According to scientist Dr...

-bearing fruiting body
Sporocarp (fungi)
In fungi, the sporocarp is a multicellular structure on which spore-producing structures, such as basidia or asci, are borne...

 of a fungus
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

 source. The standard for the name "mushroom" is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus; hence the word "mushroom" is most often applied to those fungi (Basidiomycota
Basidiomycota
Basidiomycota is one of two large phyla that, together with the Ascomycota, comprise the subkingdom Dikarya within the Kingdom Fungi...

, Agaricomycetes
Agaricomycetes
Agaricomycetes is a class of fungi. The taxon is roughly identical to that defined for the Homobasidiomycetes by Hibbett & Thorn, with the inclusion of Auriculariales and Sebacinales. It includes not only mushrooms but also most species placed in the deprecated taxa Gasteromycetes and...

) that have a stem (stipe
Stipe (mycology)
thumb|150px|right|Diagram of a [[basidiomycete]] stipe with an [[annulus |annulus]] and [[volva |volva]]In mycology a stipe refers to the stem or stalk-like feature supporting the cap of a mushroom. Like all tissues of the mushroom other than the hymenium, the stipe is composed of sterile hyphal...

), a cap (pileus
Pileus (mycology)
The pileus is the technical name for the cap, or cap-like part, of a basidiocarp or ascocarp that supports a spore-bearing surface, the hymenium. The hymenium may consist of lamellae, tubes, or teeth, on the underside of the pileus...

), and gills (lamellae, sing. lamella) or pores on the underside of the cap.

"Mushroom" describes a variety of gilled fungi, with or without stems, and the term is used even more generally, to describe both the fleshy fruiting bodies of some Ascomycota
Ascomycota
The Ascomycota are a Division/Phylum of the kingdom Fungi, and subkingdom Dikarya. Its members are commonly known as the Sac fungi. They are the largest phylum of Fungi, with over 64,000 species...

 and the woody or leathery fruiting bodies of some Basidiomycota
Basidiomycota
Basidiomycota is one of two large phyla that, together with the Ascomycota, comprise the subkingdom Dikarya within the Kingdom Fungi...

, depending upon the context of the word.

Forms deviating from the standard morphology
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

 usually have more specific names, such as "puffball
Puffball
A puffball is a member of any of several groups of fungus in the division Basidiomycota. The puffballs were previously treated as a taxonomic group called the Gasteromycetes or Gasteromycetidae, but they are now known to be a polyphyletic assemblage. The distinguishing feature of all puffballs is...

", "stinkhorn
Stinkhorn
The Phallaceae are a family of fungi, commonly known as stinkhorn mushrooms. Belonging to the fungal order Phallales, the Phallaceae have a worldwide distribution, but are especially prevalent in tropical regions. They are known for their foul smelling sticky spore masses, or gleba, borne on the...

", and "morel
Morel
Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi. These distinctive mushrooms appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them....

", and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called "agaric
Agaric
An agaric is a type of fungal fruiting body characterized by the presence of a pileus that is clearly differentiated from the stipe , with lamellae on the underside of the pileus. "Agaric" can also refer to a basidiomycete species characterized by an agaric-type fruiting body...

s" in reference to their similarity to Agaricus
Agaricus
Agaricus is a large and important genus of mushrooms containing both edible and poisonous species, with possibly over 300 members worldwide...

or their place Agaricales
Agaricales
The fungal order Agaricales, also known as gilled mushrooms , or euagarics, contains some of the most familiar types of mushrooms. The order has 33 extant families, 413 genera, and over 13000 described species, along with five extinct genera known only from the fossil record...

. By extension, the term "mushroom" can also designate the entire fungus when in culture; the thallus
Thallus (tissue)
Thallus, from Latinized Greek θαλλός , meaning a green shoot or twig, is the undifferentiated vegetative tissue of some organisms in diverse groups such as algae, fungus, some liverworts, lichens, and the Myxogastria. Many of these organisms were previously known as the thallophytes, a polyphyletic...

 (called a mycelium
Mycelium
thumb|right|Fungal myceliaMycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelia are found in soil and on or within many other...

) of species forming the fruiting bodies called mushrooms; or the species itself.

Identification

Identifying mushrooms requires a basic understanding of their macroscopic
Macroscopic
The macroscopic scale is the length scale on which objects or processes are of a size which is measurable and observable by the naked eye.When applied to phenomena and abstract objects, the macroscopic scale describes existence in the world as we perceive it, often in contrast to experiences or...

 structure. Most are Basidiomycetes and gilled. Their spores, called basidiospore
Basidiospore
A basidiospore is a reproductive spore produced by Basidiomycete fungi. Basidiospores typically each contain one haploid nucleus that is the product of meiosis, and they are produced by specialized fungal cells called basidia. In grills under a cap of one common species in the phylum of...

s, are produced on the gills and fall in a fine rain of powder from under the caps as a result. At the microscopic level the basidiospores are shot off basidia and then fall between the gills in the dead air space. As a result, for most mushrooms, if the cap is cut off and placed gill-side-down overnight, a powdery impression reflecting the shape of the gills (or pores, or spines, etc.) is formed (when the fruit body is sporulating). The color of the powdery print, called a spore print
Spore print
thumb|300px|right|Making a spore print of the mushroom Volvariella volvacea shown in composite: mushroom cap laid on white and dark paper; cap removed after 24 hours showing pinkish-tan spore print...

, is used to help classify mushrooms and can help to identify them. Spore print colors include white (most common), brown, black, purple-brown, pink, yellow, and cream, but almost never blue, green, or red.

While modern identification of mushrooms is quickly becoming molecular, the standard methods for identification are still used by most and have developed into a fine art harking back to medieval times and the Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

, combined with microscopic examination. The presence of juices upon breaking, bruising reactions, odors, tastes, shades of color, habitat, habit, and season are all considered by both amateur and professional mycologists. Tasting and smelling mushrooms carries its own hazards because of poisons and allergens. Chemical tests
Chemical test
In chemistry, a chemical test is a qualitative or quantitative procedure designed to prove the existence of, or to quantify, a chemical compound or chemical group with the aid of a specific reagent...

 are also used for some genera.

In general, identification to genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 can often be accomplished in the field using a local mushroom guide. Identification to species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, however, requires more effort; one must remember that a mushroom develops from a button stage into a mature structure, and only the latter can provide certain characteristics needed for the identification of the species. However, over-mature specimens lose features and cease producing spores. Many novices have mistaken humid water marks on paper for white spore prints, or discolored paper from oozing liquids on lamella edges for colored spored prints.

Classification


Typical mushrooms are the fruit bodies of members of the order Agaricales
Agaricales
The fungal order Agaricales, also known as gilled mushrooms , or euagarics, contains some of the most familiar types of mushrooms. The order has 33 extant families, 413 genera, and over 13000 described species, along with five extinct genera known only from the fossil record...

, whose type genus
Type genus
In biological classification, a type genus is a representative genus, as with regard to a biological family. The term and concept is used much more often and much more formally in zoology than it is in botany, and the definition is dependent on the nomenclatural Code that applies:* In zoological...

 is Agaricus
Agaricus
Agaricus is a large and important genus of mushrooms containing both edible and poisonous species, with possibly over 300 members worldwide...

and type species is the field mushroom, Agaricus campestris
Agaricus campestris
Agaricus campestris is commonly known as the field mushroom or, in North America, meadow mushroom. It is a widely eaten gilled mushroom closely related to the cultivated button mushroom Agaricus bisporus.-Taxonomy:...

. However, in modern molecularly-defined classifications, not all members of the order Agaricales produce mushroom fruit bodies, and many other gilled fungi, collectively called mushrooms, occur in other orders of the class Agaricomycetes
Agaricomycetes
Agaricomycetes is a class of fungi. The taxon is roughly identical to that defined for the Homobasidiomycetes by Hibbett & Thorn, with the inclusion of Auriculariales and Sebacinales. It includes not only mushrooms but also most species placed in the deprecated taxa Gasteromycetes and...

. For example, chanterelles
Cantharellus
Cantharellus is a genus of popular edible mushrooms, commonly known as chanterelles . They are mycorrhizal fungi, meaning they form symbiotic associations with plants, making them very difficult to cultivate...

 are in the Cantharellales
Cantharellales
The Cantharellales are an order of fungi in the class Agaricomycetes. The order includes not only the chanterelles , but also some of the tooth fungi , clavarioid fungi , and corticioid fungi...

, false chanterelles like Gomphus
Gomphus (fungus)
Gomphus is a small genus of cantharelloid fungi in the family Gomphaceae. The genus has a widespread distribution in temperate regions, and contains 10 species. Once presumed to be related to chanterelles, molecular study has shown them to be allied with stinkhorns and fairy clubs...

are in the Gomphales
Gomphales
The Gomphales are an order of basidiomycete fungi. Some or all families belonging to Gomphales have been sometimes included in the order Phallales ,...

, milk mushrooms (Lactarius
Lactarius
Lactarius is a genus of mushroom-producing fungi. The genus, collectively known commonly as milk-caps, are characterized by the fact that they exude a milky fluid if cut or damaged...

) and russulas (Russula
Russula
Around 750 worldwide species of mycorrhizal mushrooms compose the genus Russula. They are typically common, fairly large, and brightly colored - making them one of the most recognizable genera among mycologists and mushroom collectors...

) as well as Lentinellus
Lentinellus
Lentinellus is a white rot, wood decay, lamellate agaric in the family Auriscalpiaceae, further characterized in part by rough-walled, amyloid spores produced on lamellae with jagged edges...

are in the Russulales
Russulales
The Russulales are an order of the Agaricomycetes,...

, while the tough leathery genera Lentinus
Lentinus
Lentinus is a genus of fungi in the family Polyporaceae. There are 40 species in the genus, which have a widespread distribution, especially in subtropical regions....

and Panus
Panus
Panus is a genus of fungi in the family Polyporaceae.-External links:*...

are among the Polyporales
Polyporales
The Polyporales are an order of fungi in the class Agaricomycetes. The order includes some polypores as well as many corticioid fungi and a few agarics . Species within the order are saprotrophic, most of them wood-rotters...

, but Neolentinus is in the Gloeophyllales
Gloeophyllales
Gloeophyllales is a phylogenetically defined order of wood-decay fungi that is characterized by the ability to produce a brown rot of wood. It includes a single, identically defined family, the Gloeophyllaceae, in which are included the genera Gloeophyllum, Neolentinus, Heliocybe, and Veluticeps....

, and the little pin-mushroom genus, Rickenella
Rickenella
Rickenella is a genus of brightly colored bryophilous agarics in the Hymenochaetales that have an omphalinoid morphology. They inhabit mosses on mossy soils, peats, tree trunks and logs in temperate regions of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres...

, along with similar genera, are in the Hymenochaetales
Hymenochaetales
The Hymenochaetales are an order of fungi in the class Agaricomycetes. The order in its current sense is based on molecular research and not on any unifying morphological characteristics. According to one 2008 estimate, the Hymenochaetales contain around 600 species worldwide, mostly corticioid...

.

Within the main body of mushrooms, in the Agaricales, are common fungi like the common fairy-ring mushroom (Marasmius
Marasmius
Marasmius is a genus of mushrooms, in the family Marasmiaceae. It contains about 500 species of agarics, of which a few, such as Marasmius oreades, are edible. However, most members of this genus are small, unimpressive brown mushrooms...

oreades), shiitake
Shiitake
The Shiitake is an edible mushroom native to East Asia, which is cultivated and consumed in many Asian countries, as well as being dried and exported to many countries around the world. It is a feature of many Asian cuisines including Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai...

, enoki, oyster mushrooms, fly agarics, and other amanita
Amanita
The genus Amanita contains about 600 species of agarics including some of the most toxic known mushrooms found worldwide. This genus is responsible for approximately 95% of the fatalities resulting from mushroom poisoning, with the death cap accounting for about 50% on its own...

s, magic mushrooms like species of Psilocybe
Psilocybe
Psilocybe is a genus of small mushrooms growing worldwide. This genus is best known for its species with psychedelic or hallucinogenic properties, widely known as "magic mushrooms", though the majority of species do not contain hallucinogenic compounds...

, paddy straw mushrooms
Volvariella
Volvariella is a genus of mushrooms with deep salmon pink gills and spore prints. They lack a ring, and have an Amanita-like volva at the stem base. Some species of Amanita look similar, but Amanita has white spores and often have a ring. Since the gills of young Volvariella are white at first,...

, shaggy manes
Coprinus comatus
Coprinus comatus, the shaggy ink cap, lawyer's wig, or shaggy mane, is a common fungus often seen growing on lawns, along gravel roads and waste areas. The young fruit bodies first appear as white cylinders emerging from the ground, then the bell-shaped caps open out. The caps are white, and...

, etc.

An atypical mushroom is the lobster mushroom
Lobster mushroom
Lobster mushroom is not a mushroom, but rather a parasitic ascomycete that grows on mushrooms, turning them a reddish orange color that resembles the outer shell of a cooked lobster. It colonizes members of the genera Lactarius and Russula, such as Russula brevipes and Lactarius piperatus in...

, which is a deformed, cooked-lobster-colored parasitized fruitbody of a Russula
Russula
Around 750 worldwide species of mycorrhizal mushrooms compose the genus Russula. They are typically common, fairly large, and brightly colored - making them one of the most recognizable genera among mycologists and mushroom collectors...

or Lactarius
Lactarius
Lactarius is a genus of mushroom-producing fungi. The genus, collectively known commonly as milk-caps, are characterized by the fact that they exude a milky fluid if cut or damaged...

, colored and deformed by the mycoparasitic Ascomycete Hypomyces lactifluorum.

Other mushrooms are not gilled and then the term "mushroom" is loosely used, so it is difficult to give a full account of their classifications. Some have pores underneath (and are usually called bolete
Bolete
A bolete is a type of fungal fruiting body characterized by the presence of a pileus that is clearly differentiated from the stipe, with a spongy surface of pores on the underside of the pileus...

s), others have spines, such as the hedgehog mushroom
Hericium erinaceus
Hericium erinaceus is an edible mushroom and medicinal mushroom in the tooth fungus group...

 and other tooth fungi, and so on. "Mushroom" has been used for polypore
Polypore
Polypores are a group of tough, leathery poroid mushrooms similar to boletes, but typically lacking a distinct stalk. The technical distinction between the two types of mushrooms is that polypores do not have the spore-bearing tissue continuous along the entire underside of the mushroom. Many...

s, puffball
Puffball
A puffball is a member of any of several groups of fungus in the division Basidiomycota. The puffballs were previously treated as a taxonomic group called the Gasteromycetes or Gasteromycetidae, but they are now known to be a polyphyletic assemblage. The distinguishing feature of all puffballs is...

s, jelly fungi
Jelly fungi
The class Heterobasidiomycetes or jelly fungi is a paraphyletic group of several fungal orders: Tremellales, Auriculariales, Dacrymycetales. These fungi are so named because their foliose to irregularly branched fruiting body is, or appears to be, the consistency of jelly. Actually, many are...

, coral fungi, bracket fungi
Bracket fungus
Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi, among many groups of the fungi in the phylum Basidiomycota. Characteristically, they produce shelf- or bracket-shaped fruiting bodies called conks that lie in a close planar grouping of separate or interconnected horizontal rows...

, stinkhorn
Stinkhorn
The Phallaceae are a family of fungi, commonly known as stinkhorn mushrooms. Belonging to the fungal order Phallales, the Phallaceae have a worldwide distribution, but are especially prevalent in tropical regions. They are known for their foul smelling sticky spore masses, or gleba, borne on the...

s, and cup fungi
Cup fungus
The Pezizaceae are a family of fungi in the Ascomycota which produce mushrooms that tends to grow in the shape of a "cup". Spores are formed on the inner surface of the fruit body . The cup shape typically serves to focus raindrops into splashing spores out of the cup...

. Thus, the term is more one of common application to macroscopic
Macroscopic
The macroscopic scale is the length scale on which objects or processes are of a size which is measurable and observable by the naked eye.When applied to phenomena and abstract objects, the macroscopic scale describes existence in the world as we perceive it, often in contrast to experiences or...

 fungal fruiting bodies than one having precise taxonomic
Taxonomy
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

 meaning. There are approximately 14,000 described species of mushrooms.

Toadstools

The terms "mushroom" and "toadstool" go back centuries and were never precisely defined, nor was there consensus on application. The term "toadstool" was often, but not exclusively, applied to poisonous mushrooms or to those that have the classic umbrella-like cap-and-stem form. Between 1400 and 1600 AD, the terms tadstoles, frogstooles, frogge stoles, tadstooles, tode stoles, toodys hatte, paddockstool, puddockstool, paddocstol, toadstoole, and paddockstooles sometimes were used synonymously with mushrom, mushrum, muscheron, mousheroms, mussheron, or musserouns.

The word has apparent analogies in Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 padde(n)stoel (toad-stool/chair, mushroom) and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 Krötenschwamm (toad-fungus, alt. word for panther cap
Panther cap
Amanita pantherina var. pantherina, also known as the Panther cap and False Blusher due to its similarity to the true Blusher , is a species of Europe and western Asia.-Description:...

).
Others have proposed a connection with German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 "Todesstuhl" (lit. "death's chair"). Since Tod is a direct cognate
Cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

 to death, in that case it would be a German borrowing. However, there is no common word akin to "Todesstuhl" used in German referring to mushrooms, poisonous or not.

In german folklore and old fairy tales there are many depictions of toads sitting on Toadstool mushrooms and catching, with their tongues, the flies that are said to be drawn to the "Fliegenpilz". ("Fliegenpilz" being a german name for the Toadstool, meaning "Flies' mushroom") This is how the mushroom got another of his names, "Krötenstuhl" (a less used german name for the mushroom.), literally translating to "toad-stool"

The term "mushroom" and its variations may have been derived from the French word mousseron in reference to moss (mousse). The toadstool's connection to toad
Toad
A toad is any of a number of species of amphibians in the order Anura characterized by dry, leathery skin , short legs, and snoat-like parotoid glands...

s may be direct, in reference to some species of poisonous toad
Cane Toad
The Cane Toad , also known as the Giant Neotropical Toad or Marine Toad, is a large, terrestrial true toad which is native to Central and South America, but has been introduced to various islands throughout Oceania and the Caribbean...

, or may just be a case of phono-semantic matching
Phono-semantic matching
Phono-semantic matching is a linguistic term referring to camouflaged borrowing in which a foreign word is matched with a phonetically and semantically similar pre-existent native word/root....

 from the German word. However, there is no clear-cut delineation between edible and poisonous fungi, so that a "mushroom" may be edible, poisonous, or unpalatable. The term "toadstool" is nowadays used in storytelling when referring to poisonous or suspect mushrooms. The classic example of a toadstool is Amanita muscaria
Amanita muscaria
Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric or fly amanita , is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita...

.

Morphology

A mushroom develops from a nodule, or pinhead, less than two millimeters in diameter, called a primordium
Primordium
A primordium , in embryology, is defined as an organ or tissue in its earliest recognizable stage of development. Cells of the primordium are called primordial cells...

, which is typically found on or near the surface of the substrate
Substrate (biology)
In biology a substrate is the surface a plant or animal lives upon and grows on. A substrate can include biotic or abiotic materials and animals. For example, encrusting algae that lives on a rock can be substrate for another animal that lives on top of the algae. See also substrate .-External...

. It is formed within the mycelium
Mycelium
thumb|right|Fungal myceliaMycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelia are found in soil and on or within many other...

, the mass of threadlike hypha
Hypha
A hypha is a long, branching filamentous structure of a fungus, and also of unrelated Actinobacteria. In most fungi, hyphae are the main mode of vegetative growth, and are collectively called a mycelium; yeasts are unicellular fungi that do not grow as hyphae.-Structure:A hypha consists of one or...

e that make up the fungus. The primordium enlarges into a roundish structure of interwoven hyphae roughly resembling an egg, called a "button". The button has a cottony roll of mycelium, the universal veil
Universal veil
In mycology, a universal veil is a temporary membranous tissue that fully envelops immature fruiting bodies of certain gilled mushrooms. The developing Caesar's mushroom , for example, which may resemble a small white sphere at this point, is protected by this structure...

, that surrounds the developing fruit body. As the egg expands, the universal veil ruptures and may remain as a cup, or volva
Volva (mycology)
The volva is a mycological term to describe a cup-like structure at the base of a mushroom that is a remnant of the universal veil. This macrofeature is important in wild mushroom identification due to it being an easily observed, taxonomically significant feature which frequently signifies a...

, at the base of the stalk
Stipe (mycology)
thumb|150px|right|Diagram of a [[basidiomycete]] stipe with an [[annulus |annulus]] and [[volva |volva]]In mycology a stipe refers to the stem or stalk-like feature supporting the cap of a mushroom. Like all tissues of the mushroom other than the hymenium, the stipe is composed of sterile hyphal...

, or as warts or volval patches on the cap. Many mushrooms lack a universal veil and therefore do not have either a volva or volval patches. Often there is a second layer of tissue, the partial veil
Partial veil
thumb|150px|right|Developmental stages of [[Agaricus campestris]] showing the role and evolution of a partial veilPartial veil is a mycological term used to describe a temporary structure of tissue found on the fruiting bodies of some basidiomycete fungi, typically agarics...

, covering the bladelike gills that bear spore
Spore
In biology, a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many bacteria, plants, algae, fungi and some protozoa. According to scientist Dr...

s. As the cap expands, the veil breaks, and remnants of the partial veil may remain as a ring, or annulus
Annulus (mycology)
An annulus is the ring like structure sometimes found on the stipe of some species of mushrooms. The annulus represents the remaining part of the partial veil, after it has ruptured to expose the gills or other spore-producing surface. An annulus may be thick and membranous, or it may be cobweb-like...

, around the middle of the stalk or as fragments hanging from the margin of the cap. The ring may be skirt-like as in some species of Amanita
Amanita
The genus Amanita contains about 600 species of agarics including some of the most toxic known mushrooms found worldwide. This genus is responsible for approximately 95% of the fatalities resulting from mushroom poisoning, with the death cap accounting for about 50% on its own...

, collar-like as in many species of Lepiota
Lepiota
Lepiota is a genus of gilled mushrooms in the family Agaricaceae. All Lepiota species are ground-dwelling saprotrophs with a preference for rich, calcareous soils. Basidiocarps are agaricoid with whitish spores, typically with scaly caps and a ring on the stem. Around 400 species of Lepiota are...

, or merely the faint remnants of a cortina (a partial veil composed of filaments resembling a spiderweb), which is typical of the genus Cortinarius
Cortinarius
Cortinarius is a genus of mushrooms. It is suspected to be the largest genus of agarics, containing over 2000 different species and found worldwide. A common feature among all species in the genus Cortinarius is that young specimens have a cortina between the cap and the stem, hence the name,...

. Mushrooms that lack a partial veil do not form an annulus.

The stalk (also called the stipe, or stem) may be central and support the cap in the middle, or it may be off-center and/or lateral, as in species of Pleurotus
Pleurotus
Pleurotus is a genus of gilled mushrooms which includes one of the most widely eaten mushrooms, P. ostreatus. Species of Pleurotus may be called oyster, abalone, or tree mushrooms, and are some of the most commonly cultivated edible mushrooms in the world...

and Panus
Panus
Panus is a genus of fungi in the family Polyporaceae.-External links:*...

. In other mushrooms, a stalk may be absent, as in the polypores that form shelf-like brackets. Puffball
Puffball
A puffball is a member of any of several groups of fungus in the division Basidiomycota. The puffballs were previously treated as a taxonomic group called the Gasteromycetes or Gasteromycetidae, but they are now known to be a polyphyletic assemblage. The distinguishing feature of all puffballs is...

s lack a stalk but may have a supporting base. Other mushrooms, like truffles, jellies, earthstars
Geastrales
Geastrales is an order of gasterocarpic basidiomycetes that relates to Cantharellales. It includes the genera Geastrum and Myriostoma.The common name is "earthstars."...

, bird's nests
Nidulariaceae
The Nidulariaceae are a family of fungi in the order Nidulariales. Commonly known as the bird's nest fungi, their fruiting bodies resemble tiny egg-filled birds' nests...

, usually do not have stalks, and a specialized mycological vocabulary exists to describe their parts.

The way that gills attach to the top of the stalk is an important feature of mushroom morphology. Mushrooms in the genera Agaricus
Agaricus
Agaricus is a large and important genus of mushrooms containing both edible and poisonous species, with possibly over 300 members worldwide...

, Amanita, Lepiota and Pluteus
Pluteus
Pluteus is a large genus of fungi with over 100 species. They are wood rotting saprobes with pink spore prints and gills that are free from the stem.Pluteus means shed or penthouse.-Characteristics of the genus :...

, among others, have free gills that do not extend to the top of the stalk. Others have decurrent gills that extend down the stalk, as in the genera Omphalotus
Omphalotus
Omphalotus is a genus of Basidiomycete mushroom formally described by Victor Fayod in 1889. Members have the traditional cap and stem toadstool form. The best known and type species is the jack-o'-lantern mushroom . Species of Omphalotus, which are poisonous, have been mistaken for chanterelles...

and Pleurotus. There are a great number of variations between the extremes of free and decurrent, collectively called attached gills. Finer distinctions are often made to distinguish the types of attached gills: adnate gills, which adjoin squarely to the stalk; notched gills, which are notched where they join the top of the stalk; adnexed gills, which curve upward to meet the stalk, and so on. These distinctions between attached gills are sometimes difficult to interpret, since gill attachment may change as the mushroom matures, or with different environmental conditions.

Microscopic features

A hymenium
Hymenium
The hymenium is the tissue layer on the hymenophore of a fungal fruiting body where the cells develop into basidia or asci, which produce spores. In some species all of the cells of the hymenium develop into basidia or asci, while in others some cells develop into sterile cells called cystidia or...

 is a layer of microscopic spore-bearing cells that covers the surface of gills. In the non-gilled mushrooms, the hymenium lines the inner surfaces of the tubes of bolete
Bolete
A bolete is a type of fungal fruiting body characterized by the presence of a pileus that is clearly differentiated from the stipe, with a spongy surface of pores on the underside of the pileus...

s and polypores, or covers the teeth of spine fungi and the branches of corals. In the Ascomycota, spores develop within a microscopic elongated, saclike cell called an ascus
Ascus
An ascus is the sexual spore-bearing cell produced in ascomycete fungi. On average, asci normally contain eight ascospores, produced by a meiotic cell division followed, in most species, by a mitotic cell division. However, asci in some genera or species can number one , two, four, or multiples...

, which typically contains eight spores. The Discomycetes
Discomycetes
Discomycetes is a former taxonomic class of Ascomycete fungi which contains all of the cup, sponge, brain, and some club-like fungi. It includes typical cup fungi like the scarlet elf cup and the orange peel fungus, and fungi with fruiting bodies of more unusual shape, such as morels, truffles and...

—which contains the cup, sponge, brain, and some club-like fungi—develop an exposed layer of asci, as on the inner surface of cup fungi or within the pits of morel
Morel
Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi. These distinctive mushrooms appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them....

s. The Pyrenomycetes, tiny dark-colored fungi that live on a wide range of substrates including soil, dung, leaf litter, decaying wood, as well as other fungi, produce minute flask-shaped structures called perithecia, within which the asci develop.
In the Basidiomycetes, usually four spores develop on the tips of thin projections called sterigmata, which extend from a club-shaped cell called a basidium
Basidium
thumb|right|500px|Schematic showing a basidiomycete mushroom, gill structure, and spore-bearing basidia on the gill margins.A basidium is a microscopic, spore-producing structure found on the hymenophore of fruiting bodies of basidiomycete fungi. The presence of basidia is one of the main...

. The fertile portion of the Gasteromycetes, called a gleba
Gleba
Gleba is the fleshy spore-bearing inner mass of fungi such as the puffball or stinkhorn.The gleba is a solid mass of spores, generated within an enclosed area within the sporocarp. The continuous maturity of the sporogenous cells leave the spores behind as a powdery mass that can be easily blown away...

, may become powdery as in the puffballs or slimy as in the stinkhorn
Stinkhorn
The Phallaceae are a family of fungi, commonly known as stinkhorn mushrooms. Belonging to the fungal order Phallales, the Phallaceae have a worldwide distribution, but are especially prevalent in tropical regions. They are known for their foul smelling sticky spore masses, or gleba, borne on the...

s. Interspersed among the asci are threadlike sterile cells called paraphyses
Paraphyses
Paraphyses are part of the fertile spore-bearing layer in certain fungi. More specifically, paraphyses are sterile filamentous hyphal end cells composing part of the hymenium of Ascomycota and Basidiomycota interspersed among either the asci or basidia respectively, and not sufficiently...

. Similar structures called cystidia often occur within the hymenium of the Basidiomycota. Many types of cystidia exist and assessing their presence, shape, and size is often used to verify the identification of a mushroom.

The most important microscopic feature for identification of mushrooms is the spores themselves. Their color, shape, size, attachment, ornamentation, and reaction to chemical tests
Chemical tests in mushroom identification
Chemical tests in mushroom identification are methods that aid in determining the variety of some fungi. The most useful tests are Melzer's reagent and potassium hydroxide.- Ammonia :Household ammonia can be used. A couple of drops are placed on the flesh...

 often can be the crux of an identification. Spores often have a protrusion at one end, called an apiculus, which is the point of attachment to the basidium, termed the apical germ pore
Germ pore
A germ pore is a small pore in the outer wall of a fungal spore through which the germ tube exits upon germination. It can be apical or eccentric in its location, and, on light microscopy, may be visualized as a lighter coloured area on the cell wall....

, from which the hypha emerges when the spore germinates.

Growth

Many species of mushrooms seemingly appear overnight, growing or expanding rapidly. This phenomenon is the source of several common expressions in the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 including "to mushroom" or "mushrooming" (expanding rapidly in size or scope) and "to pop up like a mushroom" (to appear unexpectedly and quickly). In reality all species of mushrooms take several days to form primordial mushroom fruit bodies, though they do expand rapidly by the absorption of fluids.

The cultivated mushroom as well as the common field mushroom initially form a minute fruiting body, referred to as the pin stage because of their small size. Slightly expanded they are called buttons, once again because of the relative size and shape. Once such stages are formed, the mushroom can rapidly pull in water from its mycelium
Mycelium
thumb|right|Fungal myceliaMycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelia are found in soil and on or within many other...

 and expand, mainly by inflating preformed cell
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

s that took several days to form in the primordia.

Similarly, there are even more ephemeral mushrooms, like Parasola
Parasola
Parasola is a genus of mushrooms in the family Psathyrellaceae.-Species:This list is incomplete.* Parasola auricoma * Parasola kuehneri * Parasola leiocephala * Parasola lilatincta...

 plicatilis
(formerly Coprinus
Coprinus
Coprinus is a small genus of mushrooms consisting of Coprinus comatus and several of its close relatives. Until 2001, Coprinus was a large genus consisting of all agaric species in which the lamellae autodigested to release their spores...

 plicatlis
), that literally appear overnight and may disappear by late afternoon on a hot day after rainfall. The primordia form at ground level in lawns in humid spaces under the thatch and after heavy rainfall or in dew
Dew
[Image:Dew on a flower.jpg|right|220px|thumb|Some dew on an iris in Sequoia National Park]]Dew is water in the form of droplets that appears on thin, exposed objects in the morning or evening...

y conditions balloon to full size in a few hours, release spores, and then collapse. They "mushroom" to full size.

Not all mushrooms expand overnight; some grow very slowly and add tissue to their fruitbodies by growing from the edges of the colony or by inserting hyphae. For example Pleurotus nebrodensis
Pleurotus nebrodensis
Pleurotus nebrodensis, commonly known as Funcia di basilicu is a fungus that was declared by the IUCN as critically endangered in 2006. This fungus only grows on limestone in northern Sicily in association with Cachrys ferulacea...

grows slowly, and because of this combined with human collection, it is now critically endangered
Critically endangered
Version 2010.3 of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 3744 Critically Endangered species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and subpopulations.Critically Endangered by kingdom:*1993 Animalia*2 Fungi*1745 Plantae*4 Protista-References:...

.
Though mushroom fruiting bodies are short-lived, the underlying mycelium
Mycelium
thumb|right|Fungal myceliaMycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelia are found in soil and on or within many other...

 can itself be long-lived and massive. A colony of Armillaria solidipes (formerly known as Armillaria ostoyae) in Malheur National Forest
Malheur National Forest
The Malheur National Forest is a National Forest in the U.S. state of Oregon. It contains 1.7 million acres in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. The forest include high desert grasslands, sage, juniper, pine, fir, and other tree species. Elevations vary from about 4000 feet to the 9038...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 is estimated to be 2,400 years old, possibly older, and spans an estimated 2200 acres (8.9 km²). Most of the fungus is underground and in decaying wood or dying tree roots in the form of white mycelia combined with black shoelace-like rhizomorphs
Mycelial cord
Mycelial cords are linear aggregations of parallel-oriented hyphae. The mature cords are composed of wide, empty vessel hyphae surrounded by narrower sheathing hyphae...

 that bridge colonized separated woody substrates.

Nutrition

Mushrooms are a low-calorie food usually eaten raw or cooked to provide garnish to a meal. Raw dietary mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, such as riboflavin
Riboflavin
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2 or additive E101, is an easily absorbed micronutrient with a key role in maintaining health in humans and animals. It is the central component of the cofactors FAD and FMN, and is therefore required by all flavoproteins. As such, vitamin B2 is required for a...

, niacin
Niacin
"Niacin" redirects here. For the neo-fusion band, see Niacin .Niacin is an organic compound with the formula and, depending on the definition used, one of the forty to eighty essential human nutrients.Niacin is one of five vitamins associated with a pandemic deficiency disease: niacin deficiency...

 and pantothenic acid
Pantothenic acid
Pantothenic acid, also called pantothenate or vitamin B5 , is a water-soluble vitamin. For many animals, pantothenic acid is an essential nutrient. Animals require pantothenic acid to synthesize coenzyme-A , as well as to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.Pantothenic acid...

, and the essential minerals selenium
Selenium
Selenium is a chemical element with atomic number 34, chemical symbol Se, and an atomic mass of 78.96. It is a nonmetal, whose properties are intermediate between those of adjacent chalcogen elements sulfur and tellurium...

, copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 and potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

. Fat, carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

 and calorie
Calorie
The calorie is a pre-SI metric unit of energy. It was first defined by Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a unit of heat, entering French and English dictionaries between 1841 and 1867. In most fields its use is archaic, having been replaced by the SI unit of energy, the joule...

 content are low, with absence of vitamin C
Vitamin C
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress...

 and sodium
Sodium
Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals; its only stable isotope is 23Na. It is an abundant element that exists in numerous minerals, most commonly as sodium chloride...

 (table, right).
When exposed to ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

 light, natural ergosterol
Ergosterol
Ergosterol is a sterol found in fungi, and named for ergot, a common name for the members of the fungal genus Claviceps from which ergosterol was first isolated. Ergosterol does not occur in plant or animal cells...

s in mushrooms produce vitamin D
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids. In humans, vitamin D is unique both because it functions as a prohormone and because the body can synthesize it when sun exposure is adequate ....

2, a process now exploited for the functional food
Functional food
Functional food is a food where a new ingredient has been added to a food and the new product has a new function ....

 retail market.

Human use

Edible mushrooms

Known as the meat of the vegetable world, edible mushrooms are used extensively in cooking
Cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

, in many cuisine
Cuisine
Cuisine is a characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions, often associated with a specific culture. Cuisines are often named after the geographic areas or regions that they originate from...

s (notably Chinese
Chinese cuisine
Chinese cuisine is any of several styles originating in the regions of China, some of which have become highly popular in other parts of the world – from Asia to the Americas, Australia, Western Europe and Southern Africa...

, Korean, European
European cuisine
European cuisine, or alternatively Western cuisine, is a generalised term collectively referring to the cuisines of Europe and other Western countries...

, and Japanese).

Most mushrooms that are sold in supermarkets have been commercially grown on mushroom farms. The most popular of these, Agaricus bisporus, is considered safe for most people to eat because it is grown in controlled, sterilized environments. Several varieties of A. bisporus are grown commercially, including whites, crimini, and portobello. Other cultivated species now available at many grocers include shiitake
Shiitake
The Shiitake is an edible mushroom native to East Asia, which is cultivated and consumed in many Asian countries, as well as being dried and exported to many countries around the world. It is a feature of many Asian cuisines including Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai...

, maitake or hen-of-the-woods, oyster
Oyster mushroom
Pleurotus ostreatus, the oyster mushroom, is a common edible mushroom. It was first cultivated in Germany as a subsistence measure during World War I and is now grown commercially around the world for food. However, the first documented cultivation was by Kaufert There is some question about the...

, and enoki. In recent years increasing affluence in developing countries has led to a considerable growth in interest in mushroom cultivation, which is now seen as a potentially important economic activity for small farmers.

There are a number of species of mushroom that are poisonous and, although some resemble certain edible species, consuming them could be fatal. Eating mushrooms gathered in the wild is risky and should not be undertaken by individuals not knowledgeable in mushroom identification, unless the individuals limit themselves to a relatively small number of good edible species that are visually distinctive. A. bisporus contains carcinogen
Carcinogen
A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This may be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes...

s called hydrazine
Hydrazine
Hydrazine is an inorganic compound with the formula N2H4. It is a colourless flammable liquid with an ammonia-like odor. Hydrazine is highly toxic and dangerously unstable unless handled in solution. Approximately 260,000 tons are manufactured annually...

s, the most abundant of which is agaritine
Agaritine
Agaritine is an aromatic, antiviral, hydrazine-derivative mycotoxin and IARC Group 3 carcinogen that occurs in mushroom species of the genus Agaricus.-Occurrence:...

. However, the carcinogens are destroyed by moderate heat when cooking.

More generally, and particularly with gilled mushrooms, separating edible from poisonous species requires meticulous attention to detail; there is no single trait by which all toxic mushrooms can be identified, nor one by which all edible mushrooms can be identified. Additionally, even edible mushrooms may produce an allergic
Allergy
An Allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid...

 reaction in susceptible individuals, from a mild asthma
Asthma
Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath...

tic response to severe anaphylactic
Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is defined as "a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death". It typically results in a number of symptoms including throat swelling, an itchy rash, and low blood pressure...

 shock.

People who collect mushrooms for consumption are known as mycophagists, and the act of collecting them for such is known as mushroom hunting
Mushroom hunting
Mushroom hunting, mushrooming, mushroom picking, and similar terms describe the activity of gathering mushrooms in the wild, typically for eating...

, or simply "mushrooming".

China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 is the world's largest edible mushroom producer. The country produces about half of all cultivated mushrooms, and around 2.7 kilograms (6 lb) of mushrooms are consumed per person per year by over a billion people.

Toxic mushrooms

Many mushroom species produce secondary metabolites that can be toxic, mind-altering, antibiotic, antiviral, or bioluminescent
Bioluminescence
Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. Its name is a hybrid word, originating from the Greek bios for "living" and the Latin lumen "light". Bioluminescence is a naturally occurring form of chemiluminescence where energy is released by a chemical reaction in...

. Although there are only a small number of deadly species, several others can cause particularly severe and unpleasant symptoms. Toxicity likely plays a role in protecting the function of the basidiocarp: the mycelium has expended considerable energy and protoplasmic material to develop a structure to efficiently distribute its spores. One defense against consumption and premature destruction is the evolution of chemicals that render the mushroom inedible, either causing the consumer to vomit the meal (see emetics), or to learn to avoid consumption altogether. In addition, due to the ability of mushrooms to absorb heavy metals, including those that are radioactive, European mushrooms may, to date, include toxicity from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 and continue to be studied.

Psychoactive mushrooms

Mushrooms that have psychoactive properties have long played a role in various native medicine traditions in cultures all around the world. They have been used as sacrament in rituals aimed at mental and physical healing, and to facilitate visionary states. One such ritual is the velada
Velada (Mazatec ritual)
Velada is the name of the healing vigils carried out by Mazatec curanderos .-References:...

ceremony. A practitioner of traditional mushroom use is the shaman and curandera (priest-healer).

Psilocybin
Psilocybin
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug, with mind-altering effects similar to those of LSD and mescaline, after it is converted to psilocin. The effects can include altered thinking processes, perceptual distortions, an altered sense of time, and spiritual experiences, as well as...

 mushrooms possess psychedelic properties
Psychopharmacology
Psychopharmacology is the scientific study of the actions of drugs and their effects on mood, sensation, thinking, and behavior...

. Commonly known as "magic mushrooms" or "shrooms," they are openly available in smart shop
Smart shop
A smart shop is a retail establishment that specializes in the sales of psychoactive substances, usually including psychedelics, as well as related literature and paraphernalia...

s in many parts of the world, or on the black market
Underground economy
A black market or underground economy is a market in goods or services which operates outside the formal one supported by established state power. Typically the totality of such activity is referred to with the definite article as a complement to the official economies, by market for such goods and...

 in those countries that have outlawed their sale. Psilocybin mushrooms have been reported as facilitating profound and life-changing insights often described as mystical experiences
Religious experience
Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

. Recent scientific work has supported these claims, as well as the long-lasting effects of such induced spiritual experiences.

Psilocybin, a naturally occurring chemical in certain psychedelic mushrooms like Psilocybe cubensis
Psilocybe cubensis
Psilocybe cubensis is a species of psychedelic mushroom whose principal active compounds are psilocybin and psilocin. Commonly called Boomers, Cubes or Gold Caps, it belongs to the Strophariaceae family of fungi and was previously known as Stropharia cubensis.-Taxonomy and naming:The species was...

, is being studied for its ability to help people suffering from psychological disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive–compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety, or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions...

. Minute amounts have been reported to stop cluster
Cluster headache
Cluster headache, nicknamed "suicide headache", is a neurological disease that involves, as its most prominent feature, an immense degree of pain in the head. Cluster headaches occur periodically: spontaneous remissions interrupt active periods of pain. The cause of the disease is currently unknown...

 and migraine headaches. A double-blind study, done by the Johns Hopkins Hospital, showed that psychedelic mushrooms could provide people an experience with substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance. In the study, one third of the subjects reported that ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms was the single most spiritually significant event of their lives. Over two-thirds reported it among their five most meaningful and spiritually significant events. On the other hand, one-third of the subjects reported extreme anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

. However, the anxiety went away after a short period of time.

Amanita muscaria
Amanita muscaria
Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric or fly amanita , is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita...

pictured above is also psychoactive. The active constituents are ibotenic acid
Ibotenic acid
Ibotenic acid is a chemical compound that is naturally occurring in the mushrooms Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina, among others...

 and muscimol
Muscimol
Muscimol is the major psychoactive alkaloid present in many mushrooms of the Amanita genus. Unlike psilocin , which is a serotonergic psychedelic and agonist for the 5-HT2A receptor set, muscimol is a potent, selective agonist for the GABAA receptor set and is a deliriant as a opposed...

. The Muscaria chemotaxonomic group of Amanitas contain no amatoxins or phallotoxin
Phallotoxin
The phallotoxins consist of at least seven compounds, all of which are bicyclic heptapeptides , isolated from the death cap . Phalloidin had been isolated in 1937 by Feodor Lynen, Heinrich Wieland's student and son-in-law, and Ulrich Wieland of the University of Munich...

s, and are not hepatoxic.

Medicinal mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms or extracts from mushrooms that are used or studied as possible treatments for disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

s. Some mushroom materials, including polysaccharide
Polysaccharide
Polysaccharides are long carbohydrate molecules, of repeated monomer units joined together by glycosidic bonds. They range in structure from linear to highly branched. Polysaccharides are often quite heterogeneous, containing slight modifications of the repeating unit. Depending on the structure,...

s, glycoproteins and proteoglycan
Proteoglycan
Proteoglycans are proteins that are heavily glycosylated. The basic proteoglycan unit consists of a "core protein" with one or more covalently attached glycosaminoglycan chain. The point of attachment is a Ser residue to which the glycosaminoglycan is joined through a tetrasaccharide bridge...

s, modulate immune system
Immune system
An immune system is a system of biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. It detects a wide variety of agents, from viruses to parasitic worms, and needs to distinguish them from the organism's own...

 responses and inhibit tumor
Tumor
A tumor or tumour is commonly used as a synonym for a neoplasm that appears enlarged in size. Tumor is not synonymous with cancer...

 growth. Some medicinal mushroom isolates that have been identified also show cardiovascular, antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and antidiabetic properties. Currently, several extracts have widespread use in Japan, Korea and China, as adjuncts to radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

Historically, mushrooms have long had medicinal uses, especially in traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage , exercise , and dietary therapy...

. Mushrooms have been a subject of modern medical research since the 1960s, where most modern medical studies concern the use of mushroom extracts, rather than whole mushrooms. Only a few specific mushroom extracts have been extensively tested for efficacy. Polysaccharide-K
Polysaccharide-K
Polysaccharide-K is a protein-bound polysaccharide, which is used as an immune system boosting agent in the treatment of cancer in some countries in Europe as well as China and Japan. In Japan, PSK is approved as an adjuvant for cancer therapy and is covered by government health insurance...

 and lentinan
Lentinan
Lentinan is a beta-glucan with a glycosidic β-1,3:β-1,6 linkage. It is an anti-tumor polysaccharide from the shiitake mushroom. Lentinan is a polysaccharide that has a molecular weight of approximately 500,000 Da...

 are among the mushroom extracts with the firmest evidence. The available results for most other extracts are based on in vitro data, effects on isolated cells in a lab dish, animal model
Animal model
An animal model is a living, non-human animal used during the research and investigation of human disease, for the purpose of better understanding the disease without the added risk of causing harm to an actual human being during the process...

s like mice, or underpowered clinical human trials. Studies show that glucan-containing mushroom extracts primarily change the function of the innate
Innate immune system
The innate immune system, also known as non-specific immune system and secondary line of defence, comprises the cells and mechanisms that defend the host from infection by other organisms in a non-specific manner...

 and adaptive immune system
Adaptive immune system
The adaptive immune system is composed of highly specialized, systemic cells and processes that eliminate or prevent pathogenic growth. Thought to have arisen in the first jawed vertebrates, the adaptive or "specific" immune system is activated by the “non-specific” and evolutionarily older innate...

s, functioning as bioresponse modulators
Biological response modifiers
Biological response modifiers, also known as BRM's, are substances that the human body produces naturally, as well as something that scientists can create in a lab. These substances arouse the body's response to an infection. Some of these are used to treat arthritis, cancer, and some other...

, rather than by directly killing bacteria, viruses, or cancer cells as cytocidal agents. In some countries, extracts like polysaccharide-K
Polysaccharide-K
Polysaccharide-K is a protein-bound polysaccharide, which is used as an immune system boosting agent in the treatment of cancer in some countries in Europe as well as China and Japan. In Japan, PSK is approved as an adjuvant for cancer therapy and is covered by government health insurance...

, schizophyllan
Schizophyllan
Schizophyllan, abbreviated SPG in clinical trial literature, is a neutral extracellular polysaccharide produced by the fungus Schizophyllum commune, consisting of a 1,3-β-D-linked backbone of glucose residues with 1,6-β-D-glucosyl side groups. Schizophyllan is also known as sizofiran.The...

, polysaccharide peptide
Polysaccharide Peptide
Polysaccharide peptide is a protein-bound polysaccharide extracted from the edible mushroom Coriolus versicolor. PSP is currently in the animal-testing phase of research in many countries for use as an anti-tumor drug. It appears to work as a Biological Response Modifier, enhancing the body's own...

, and lentinan
Lentinan
Lentinan is a beta-glucan with a glycosidic β-1,3:β-1,6 linkage. It is an anti-tumor polysaccharide from the shiitake mushroom. Lentinan is a polysaccharide that has a molecular weight of approximately 500,000 Da...

 are government-registered adjuvant cancer therapies.

Other uses

Mushrooms can be used for dyeing
Dyeing
Dyeing is the process of adding color to textile products like fibers, yarns, and fabrics. Dyeing is normally done in a special solution containing dyes and particular chemical material. After dyeing, dye molecules have uncut Chemical bond with fiber molecules. The temperature and time controlling...

 wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

 and other natural fibers. The chromophore
Chromophore
A chromophore is the part of a molecule responsible for its color. The color arises when a molecule absorbs certain wavelengths of visible light and transmits or reflects others. The chromophore is a region in the molecule where the energy difference between two different molecular orbitals falls...

s of mushroom dyes are organic compounds and produce strong and vivid colors, and all colors of the spectrum can be achieved with mushroom dyes. Before the invention of synthetic dye
Dye
A dye is a colored substance that has an affinity to the substrate to which it is being applied. The dye is generally applied in an aqueous solution, and requires a mordant to improve the fastness of the dye on the fiber....

s mushrooms were the source of many textile dyes.

Some fungi, types of polypore
Polypore
Polypores are a group of tough, leathery poroid mushrooms similar to boletes, but typically lacking a distinct stalk. The technical distinction between the two types of mushrooms is that polypores do not have the spore-bearing tissue continuous along the entire underside of the mushroom. Many...

s loosely called mushrooms, have been used as fire starters (known as tinder fungi).

Mushrooms are currently being employed by Ecovative Design LLC
Limited liability company
A limited liability company is a flexible form of enterprise that blends elements of partnership and corporate structures. It is a legal form of company that provides limited liability to its owners in the vast majority of United States jurisdictions...

 to make biodegradable packaging that can directly replace petroleum-based expanded polystyrene packaging.

Mushrooms and other fungi play a role in the development of new biological remediation techniques (e.g., using mycorrhiza
Mycorrhiza
A mycorrhiza is a symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a vascular plant....

e to spur plant growth) and filtration technologies (e.g. using fungi to lower bacteria levels in contaminated water). The US Patent and Trademark Office can be searched for patents related to the latest developments in mycoremediation
Mycoremediation
Mycoremediation, a phrase coined by Paul Stamets, is a form of bioremediation, the process of using fungi to degrade or sequester contaminants in the environment. Stimulating microbial and enzyme activity, mycelium reduces toxins in-situ...

 and mycofiltration
Mycofiltration
Mycofiltration is the process of using mushroom mycelium mats as biological filters. The term was coined by mycologist Paul Stamets.Stamets originally came up with the technique to control E. coli in the water outflow from his property. After planting a mushroom bed in the gulch where the water was...

.

External links

Identification


Research associations

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