Magical Mushrooms Mischievous Molds

fascinating introduction to fungal fun – the goldy moldies

Ch 1 – Classification and Naming

“… every bit of life in all but a few unusual bacteria is a it is on Planet Earth only because energy from the Sun, in the form of photons, has been trapped and converted into chemical bonds. And when those bonds are broken in a truly astounding cascade of reactions, the energy is released and used to do the work needed to keep us alive.”

“Green plants are crucial players in this scheme, for they are the Earth’s primary solar collectors.”

“And the best evidence indicates that [fungi] have been doing their recycling for a very long time – at least as long as the 400 million years or so that land plants have been around, and probably close to 900 million years.”

Elias FriesSystema Mycologicum
Chistian Hendrick Persoon

Ch 2 – What Fungi Do and How They Do it.

“… a fungus has no chlorophyll, is physical structure is relatively simple, its cells have nuclei, and it reproduces by way of spores.”

“One of the [distinguishing] features of the fungi… is that virtually all the growth occurs by way of elongation of hyphal tips.”

“… the colony readily assumes whatever shape will allow it to occupy the greatest available area.”

Armillaria ostoyae

“… the meadow mushroom, and most others like it [gilled], can adapt to slight changes in the angle of the fruiting body by reorienting their gills accordingly… Mushrooms with thinner stems will actually continue to grow if they are tipped over.”


“inky cap ” mushroom

“Fruit bodies of Omphalotus olearius, Pamus stypticus, and Mycena illuninens are typical examples [of bioluminescence].”

Omphalotus olearius – the jack ‘o’ lantern mushroom

“luminescent mycelium is also the foxfire of contemporary lore.”

bioluminescent fungi – foxfire

“many ascomycetes have cuplike fruit-bodies…”
Ascomycete – elf cap

“… spores are very small and therefore they can stay aloft for a very long time… the fact of the matter is that spores could conceivably stay aloft indefinitely.”

“… airborne fungus spores… usually have thick cell walls… and their (usually dark) pigmentation shields them from damaging ultraviolet light.”

“A second important vehicle is falling rain, and no fungi depend on it quite so much for spore dispersal as the bird’s nest fungi.”

Bird’s nest fungus

“The fruit-bodies of [the ‘stink-horns‘]… are topped with spores contained in a sticky, foul-smelling matrix that… is eagerly sought by flies and other insects used to eating rotting flesh.”


“As the [genus Pilobolus, the capthrower] fungus nears spore-dispersal time… the stalk is aimed at the brightest light… It follows the sun as it rises in the morning. Sometime between 9 and 11AM, with the angle of the stalk at about 45 degrees from the horizon to achieve maximum trajectory, water pressure inside the swollen portion becomes so great that the stalk explodes, hurling the spore packet.”

Cap Thrower

Sphaerobolus stellatus – the cannonball fungus

Sphaerobolus stellatus – cannoball fungus

Ch 3 – Fungi as Pathogens of Food Crops

Potato Blight – Botrytis infestans aka Phytophthora infestans

Ch 4 – Fungi as Agents of Catastrophic Tree Diseases

Ch 5 – Ergot of Grain Crops

Ergot – Claviceps purpurea

“The first documented epidemic of ergotism in Germany occurred in 857 AD: ‘A great plauge of swollen blisters consumed the people by a bothersome rot, so that their limbs were loosened and fell of before death.'”

“Almost a century later a report of a ‘plague of fire’ in the vicinity of Paris…”

“In 994, an epidemic of ergotism gripped south-central France…”

Ch 6 – Mycotoxins: Toxic By-Products of Fungal Growth

Ch 7 – Mycoses: Fungus Diseases of Humans

Ch 8 – Medicinal Molds

Ch 9 – Yeasts for Baking and Brewing

Ch 10 – Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms

Coprinus micaceus

Coprinus comatus – shaggy inkcap

Centharellus cibarius – chanterelles

Pleurotus ostreatus – oyster mushroom
Pleurotus porrigens

Laetiporus sulphureus – chicken of the woods

Tuber melanosporum – black truffle

Tuber magnatum – white truffle

Agaricus bisporus – button, crimini, portabellini, portabello


Amanita Phalloides – Death Cap

Amanita virosa – Destroying Angel

Ch 11 – Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

Psilocybe spp

Gymnopilus spectabilis

Panaeolus spp

Amanita muscaria – fly agaric


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