Monsoon Time – Mushroom Time

Toadstools and gnomes can be found in quite a few fairy tales and folktales across the world. While some can be edible or have medicinal properties, most of the wild mushrooms found are harmful for human consumption if ingested…

July / August months are the best monsoon months to observe wild mushrooms. In India, we cultivate only 2/3 varieties of mushrooms, like button and oyster mushrooms. But in Britain and America, there are thousands of varieties of edible mushrooms and there are so many mushroom collectors, who collect the edible mushrooms and prepare different mushroom dishes.

Cup Mushroom-Saevus _Yuwaraj Gurjar

Cup Mushroom

But like some edible mushrooms, there are several poisonous mushrooms like “Death Cap”, “Destroying Angel” or “Panther Cap” so you must know the keys to identify the mushrooms, differentiate between the edible and poisonous ones. Like insects and butterflies, the poisonous mushrooms have bright, gaudy colors; but this is not a hard and fast rule. Most cases of “mushroom poisoning”, however, are not caused by the consumption of poisonous, but due to rotten fungi. These particular mushrooms may be poisons which are indicated by its bright orange-red color.

The most significant difference between plants and animals lies in the substance they use as food. Plants are able to make use of simple chemicals, containing the elements they used to form constituents of their living matter. Animals, on the other hand, cannot create the substance of living matter from simple raw material in this way. They require raw materials in the form of readymade organic matter, which they obtain by eating plants or other animals. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule. Some plants, like mushrooms and other fungi, feed on the organic matter has been made by other plants. They do not need chlorophyll to help them manufacture organic matter from simple chemicals, therefore, they are not green.

Giant Mushroom

Giant Mushroom

Some fungi, like mushrooms and truffles, are used as human food, others, like yeast, play an important role in the processing of food materials. The mushroom is the only fungus to achieve real importance as a human food.

Shuttlecock Mushroom

Shuttlecock Mushroom

The mushroom consists of an umbrella-like cap, which is held on a thick stalk. The undersurface of the cap bears a number of delicate vertical plates or gills, that radiates from the center, like spokes in a wheel. The surface of gills is covered with a spore-making skin. As the mushrooms grow, spores are shed from the gills. They are very small and are caught up in the wind. A single mushroom may release as many as 1800 million spores but only a few will settle on places suitable for germination.


Read also: Revisiting the moments in the wild 

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About the Author /

Yuwaraj Gurjar works with Raymond Limited - a renowned textile manufacturing company, but his love for nature always drives him to go places into wild India – being hugely diversified habitats. He has traveled across the country & Sri Lanka for nature observations and photography. His photographs have won many national and international awards; have been exhibited across the world. Some photos were included in field guides, educational websites and magazines. He actively spreads the awareness & knowledge about nature, wildlife & photography especially Macro Photography. He has developed a free Mobile App on Butterflies of Mumbai named “I love Butterflies”.

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