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Mushrooms 101: Common Misconceptions & Myths

Mobile Mushroom's MythBusters Edition: Let's dive right in!

The world of fungi is still relatively new to us as far as research and exploration is concerned, but so far we do know some basics...


Are all mushrooms toxic?

Hopefully y'all know this one but I'm trying to cover all the bases here... No, not all mushrooms are toxic - in fact, most mushrooms aren't toxic at all! You'll find in field guides a large majority of mushrooms are listed as simply "inedible" or "not recommended," meaning they have no culinary value, lack substance, or are too tough to consume.

But of course, there are some that are labeled "toxic," meaning they've caused bodily harm, gastrointestinal distress, or worse. Now let's take a moment to appreciate the bold humans before us and praise scientists & researchers who have recorded after-effects from these scenarios... Thank you for your service. 🙌


What makes a mushroom deadly?

Short answer: It depends on the mushroom. Believe it or not, only a small percentage of fungi are deadly to humans.

For example, the Deadly Galerina (Galerina marginata) and the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) share the same deadly amatoxins.


Is it bad to pick a mushroom?

Typically no. Mushrooms are fruiting bodies that grow up from a mycelial network. When you pick a mushroom, the mycelial network remains intact. But, when a mushroom is removed from its mycelium, it no longer has the chance to keep maturing or producing/dispersing spores; therefore, you could be hindering that fungi's ability to reproduce in the area it grew.

With that said... If you're researching mushrooms and attempting to learn species, it's almost always helpful to pick a mushroom in order to study it properly! Analyzing a mushroom's base, substrate, reproductive surfaces, and flesh characteristics are all critical steps in the identification process.


If you touch a toxic mushroom, will it hurt you?

No! This question is one that I am asked about a lot, especially when it comes to young naturalists learning about fungi. The good news is the toxins found in toxic mushrooms can't be absorbed through the skin. 👏

With that said, it's a good practice to always wash your hands after handling things in nature.


Any other questions or myths about fungi we should cover? Let me know in the comment section below!

 

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