Mushrooms Facts

Mushrooms Facts
Mushrooms, also known as toadstools, belong to the kingdom Fungi. There are 14.000 species of mushrooms, most of which can be found in deciduous and evergreen forests around the world, while few species are adapted for the life under the water. Shape, size and color of the mushroom depend on the species. Mushrooms represent important source of food and medicine for humans and they have wide application in biotechnology.
Interesting Mushrooms Facts:
Typical mushroom has a stem and a cap with gills on the bottom side of it. Mushroom is not a plant or animal. Its DNA shares more similarities with DNA of humans than with DNA of plants.
Mushrooms recycle dead plants and return valuable nutrients into the ground. They are often used for degradation of dangerous substances such as oils, pesticides and industrial waste.
Many plants live in symbiosis (called mycorrhizal relationship) with mushrooms. Mycelium (thread-like mass of hyphae) of fungi nourishes the root of plant with nutrients, and in return it gets food that plant produces.
To ensure successful growth and enough food for themselves, mushrooms produce antibiotics to eliminate competition. One of the best known antibiotics - penicillin, is obtained from the fungi called Penicillium.
Mushrooms are made of 90% of water. They are often described as "forest meat" due to high content of proteins (they contain more proteins than peanuts, corn and soybean). Some mushrooms, such as Laetiporus, even taste like chicken.
Edible mushrooms are good source of vitamins of the B group and minerals such as copper and potassium (some species contain more potassium than banana).
The most popular mushrooms used in human diet are white button mushrooms. China is the greatest producer of mushrooms in the world.
Collecting of wild mushrooms is also known as mushrooming or mushroom hunting.
Due to large number of poisonous mushrooms in the wild that often resemble the edible varieties, collecting (and eating) of wild mushrooms is not recommended unless a person is an expert for this field.
Around 70 species of mushrooms from Mycena family glow in the dark. They can be used as "torches" to light the way through the forest.
Mushrooms reproduce via spores produced in the gills. Spores are made of tough substance (chitin) and they can remain dormant for decades or even centuries.
Mushrooms were used as a source of pigment for dyeing of fabrics in the past.
Mushrooms are used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
Modern studies showed that mushrooms have excellent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used to reduce blood cholesterol level, to boost immune system and in treatment of different types of cancer.
The largest and the oldest mushroom in the world can be found in Blue Mountains of Oregon. It covers 2.200 acres of land and its age is estimated to 2.400 years.

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