Mushrooms have been known to humans for centuries and are among the few fungi that have common and scientific names. For example the death cup (Amanita phalloides), shaggy mane (Coprinus comatus), jack-o’lantern (Omphalotus olearius) and the honey mushroom (Armillariella mellea). They were considered to be the plant of immortality by the ancient Egyptians of 5000 years ago. France is considered the first to formally cultivate mushrooms. Cultivation later moved from France to England.
Where to find mushrooms
Mushrooms are widely distributed from the artic to the tropics. Most mushroom types show preferences for a certain type of habitat. Some may prefer upland wooded areas while others may prefer swamps and bogs. Still, there are some that are found in open areas such as gardens, lawns or pastures. Some appear sporadically while others will appear in spring or fall. Mushrooms can be found growing on the soil, dead leaves, wood, or dung
A few varieties of mushrooms are grown commercially for food. These include the “Shii-take mushroom” of Japan and China, the “Padi Straw Mushroom” of India and the far east and the common cultivated mushroom of the western world.
There are also many wild edible mushrooms that are often collected by mushroom lovers. They are a valuable source of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Mushrooms can be broiled, baked, fried and grilled. They can be preserved by drying or pickling. Mushrooms often crop up in excessively moist lawn conditions where the soil has become compacted, thus not letting the water to soak into the dirt.
Poisonous mushrooms contain a variety of different toxins that can differ markedly in toxicity. The toxin psilocybin is found in certain mushrooms, and the use of hallucinogenic fungi has been documented in rituals dating back thousands of years. There is no simple way of telling whether an unknown wild mushroom is edible or not. Eating an unknown wild mushroom could result in very unpleasant stomach upset or even death. The most severe type of mushroom poisoning is caused by members of the death cup (Amanita). Individuals differ in their reactions to mushrooms and some people may be poisoned by mushrooms that many other people eat safely. It is therefore recommended that you eat only a relatively small quantity of a mushroom the first time.
Effect of consuming poisonous mushrooms containing muscarine may include excessive salivation, perspiration, tears, severe vomiting and diarrhea. About 100 species of mushrooms are poisonous to humans, and 15-20 mushroom species are lethal when ingested. The poisonous mushrooms look similar to other varieties. There is no simple rule for distinguishing edible mushrooms from poisonous mushrooms. Education regarding the poisonous nature of wild mushrooms may act as a deterrent to mushroom foraging and ingestion. The majority of deaths from poisonous mushrooms are caused by Amanitas or “death caps. “Poisonous mushrooms have a pointed cap. Edible ones have a flat, rounded cap. ” – The shape of the mushroom cap does not correlate with presence or absence of mushroom toxins, so this is not a reliable method to distinguish between edible and poisonous species.