The title of this post is Fungus – primarily because, I have no idea if this is a mushroom, or toadstool. I’m clueless.
- Perhaps you know?
- What is it?
- What’s the difference?
There are loads of guides out there that help identify types of fungus, which for me, leads to more confusion. I think they all look the same!
- A fungus (plural: fungi) is a kind of living organism: yeasts, moulds and mushrooms are types of fungi. The fungi are a separate kingdom of living things, different from animals and plants.
Fungi have cells with nuclei. Their cell walls contain chitin, unlike the cell walls of plants, which contain cellulose. These and other differences show that the fungi form a single group of related organisms, called the Eumycota or Eumycetes.
Their basic mode of life is saprophytic: a fungus breaks down dead organic matter around it, and uses it as food. Some fungi cause crop diseases; others cause serious disease in humans. Some are highly poisonous: never eat a mushroom picked in the wild unless you know what you are doing!
- Edible fungi are widely used as human food. Certain types of cheese need a fungal species to be added. The fungi give a unique flavor and texture to the cheese.
- Some fungi produce psychotropic (mind-altering) substances. Several species, most notably Psilocybin mushrooms (colloquially known as magic mushrooms), are taken for their psychedelic properties, so they are illegal in many countries around the world.
- In modern times, some fungi (for example, Penicillin) have been used as a source of antibiotics. The antibiotics are produced by many fungi as a natural defence against bacteria.