Name “mushrooms” is a generic term for a whole kingdom of eukaryotic beings (possessing nucleated cells) known as funghi, and which usually includes mushrooms, molds and yeasts (although more specifically the former), as they differ from plants and animals in their biochemical structure and in their feeding and reproduction modes. For example: mushrooms, black truffles, mongui mushroom.
For example, members of the kingdom funghi they have cells endowed with a biochemical wall like plants, but instead of being made of cellulose, it is made of chitin, the same compound found in the shell of insects. At the same time, they reproduce sexually and asexually, through the production of spores; they are immobile structures throughout their lives and feed through the fermentation of organic matter in numerous and diverse possible habitats.
The biodiversity of fungi is very broad, there are edible and poisonous fungi, parasitic and wild fungi, usable by man, coprophiles and pyrophiles, but they generally require specific moisture and nutrient conditions to develop. That is why it is possible to find them from deserts, saline areas, exposed to ionizing radiation or on the ground of tropical rainforests.
The branch of science that is dedicated to the study of this type of beings is known as Mycology.
examples of fungi
- Common mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Food mushrooms par excellence, native to Europe and North America, they are part of numerous gastronomic aspects and are widely cultivated worldwide. It is usually white, with a short hypha and a round cap.
- reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum). Parasitic fungus of the bark of numerous types of tree, distributed in tropical and temperate zones, it is one of the oldest known mushrooms. They are usually of variable colors, with a kidney-shaped hat and covered with a layer of lacquer.
- Turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor). Extremely common and varied in its pigmentation, this fungus in the shape of a turkey tail is considered medicinal by ancient Chinese tradition, even used as an immunoadjuvant against cancer. It usually grows on the bark of trees, stones or wet slopes.
- Green Cappuccino (Amanita phalloides). The dreaded mushroom of death, death cap or green hemlock, is one of the most poisonous mushroom specimens known. Being very similar to certain edible mushrooms, it is often the cause of lethal poisoning, with rapid effects on the liver and kidneys. They have a long, slender body, with a wide, yellowish cap..
- chanterelles (Lactarius deliciosus). Also called chanterelles or robellones, they are very common edible mushrooms in Spain, typical of pine forests and mixed forests. They bloom in autumn, with a brown and white body with a short, hollowed stem, which, when broken, secretes an orange latex. They are cooked in stews and often as an accompaniment to meat.
- The “Indian Bread” (Cyttaria harioti). Llao llao or Indian bread, is a parasitic fungus of certain Pampas Patagonian trees (the ñire and the coihue in particular), from the South American region of Chile and Argentina. They are edible. Its appearance obstructs the tree’s savian ducts and the tree usually generates knots to bypass the blockage, which is a recognizable sign of its presence.
- The huitlacoche or cuitlacoche (Ustilago maydis). Edible fungus, parasite of corn, that attacks tender ears and takes on the appearance of a grayish gall that darkens as it matures. In Mexico its consumption is considered an Aztec ancestral heritage, and numerous dishes are made from it.
- Mongui mushrooms (Psilocybe semilanceata). Measuring between 2 and 5 cm, with a bell-shaped cap that turns white and brown as it matures, this European hallucinogenic mushroom is widely used as a psychotropic. Its effect is contrary to that of serotonin, generating an activation and extroversion that can often lead to paranoia and mania.
- The false cape cap (Amanita muscaria). A fairly common fungus, it has a characteristic red cap that can be mistaken for a cape cap and that, in its early stages, appears covered with whitish hairs. It is a known hallucinogen and neurotoxicant, poisoning insects that land on its hat and thus maintaining its source of organic matter.
- penicillin fungus (Penicillium chrysogenum). Thanks to the accidental appearance of this fungus in the experimental results of Alexander Fleming, we have discovered the main antibiotic in history, penicillin. There is a whole family of fungi capable of secreting this medicinal substance.
- Judas ear (Auricularia auricula-judae). Edible fungus that grows on the bark and dead branches of trees and has a characteristic pink color, which is why it is associated with a human pinna. It is edible and antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to it.
- shiitake (lentinula edodes). Edible mushroom very common in Asian cuisine, it is also known as “black forest mushroom” or “flower mushroom” from their respective local names. It is believed to originate from China, where it is traditionally grown on wood or synthetic crops. Its world’s largest producer is Japan..
- black truffles (tuber melanosporum). Another variant of edible fungus, much appreciated due to its aroma and flavor. It occurs on the ground in European winters and has a blackish, warty surface. It is a typical gastronomic accessory for foie gras and different sauces.
- human candida (Candida albicans). This fungus is usually found in the mouth, intestine and vagina, and is related to the digestion of sugars via fermentation. But it can often become pathogenic and cause a candidiasis, a very common and perfectly curable sexually transmitted disease.
- Athlete’s foot (Epidermophyton floccosum). This fungus is one of the possible causes of the fungal infection of human skin (ringworm), especially when it is, as in the case of athletes, subjected to excessive heat and humidity. They form yellowish brown or greenish black colonies.
- velvet mushroom (Flammulina velutipes). Edible fungus with long stems and varied colors, highly appreciated in Japanese cuisine for its crunchy texture and its abundance in the bark of trees.
- Bioluminescent mushroom (Omphalotus nidiformis). Typical of Australia and Tasmania, as well as India, this fungus has a white irregular nest shape, which sheds some light in the dark. They are a very striking variant although toxic and inedible.
- Scarlet Copica (Sarcoscypha coccinea). Worldwide present fungus, which grows on decomposing sticks and branches on the floor of humid forests, with a typical round and pink shape. Its medicinal applications are known, although its edibility is still under debate by specialized authors.
- aflatoxin fungus (Aspergillus flavus). Frequent in corn and peanuts, as well as in long-wet carpets, this fungus is associated with lung disease and is highly allergenic, capable of secreting lethal mycotoxins.
- black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum). Highly toxic, this mold commonly appears in abandoned buildings where there is abundant organic matter, high humidity and little light, in addition to little air exchange. Inhalation of its spores produces poisoning and chronic cough, depending on the duration and intensity of exposure to its mycotoxins.