My daughter, Alex, was towelling her dog dry after a bath when she called out and asked me to step into the garden. Mushrooms, she said. Look at the mushrooms!
Of course, I was excited. Alex is trying to grow mushrooms, we’re not sure yet how the spawning has progressed, and finding mushrooms growing wild did make me wonder if spawning was necessary at all. Is it possible that we could just harvest wild mushrooms and cook them?
At the back of my mind, I knew that not all mushrooms are for human consumption. Some are poisonous and, ingested even in small amounts, can be fatal. I knew that mushrooms with red caps are toxic. But the ones my daughter discovered… well, it wasn’t easy to guess if they were good for cooking or not. So, I tried Googling.
Are mushrooms plants?
Mushrooms are fungi.
A mushroom appears to grow like a plant, but it isn’t a plant. Genetically, mushroom bodies are closer to those of animals, but a mushroom isn’t an animal, either. It’s a fungus. In fact, a mushroom isn’t even something that grows independently. It’s just the fruiting part of a hidden organism called a mycelium.“How to Identify Poisonous Mushrooms” in Sciencing.com
Are wild mushrooms edible?
Mushrooms are either cultivated or wild. Wild mushrooms sprout where physical conditions are conducive for their growth. The mycelium grows in organic medium. Soil or decaying wood.
Some wild mushrooms are edible. In fact, because they are in short supply and because it takes expertise to identify and gather them safely, they command a higher price than cultivated mushrooms.
Which mushrooms are poisonous?
The truth is that it takes a certain amount of expertise and special tools to determine if a mushroom is poisonous. For the average person like you and me, unless the mushroom came packaged from a trusted source, it is safer not to eat or even touch wild mushrooms.
But what if we see mushrooms growing wild that look like something we’ve bought and eaten before? Some mushrooms look similar but that doesn’t always mean they are the same species. Personally, I find it safer to stick to store-bought since I have had no training in identifying wild mushrooms.