How many different kinds of mushrooms do you know of? I am guessing your knowledge in this regard would be restricted to the ones you can cook and eat. Well, the curious specimens of the fungal world we are going to look at may or may not be edible for consumption, but they certainly do cause your mouth to open wide…in wonderment and intrigue. Let’s start the journey.
The Fairy Tale Mushroom – Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)
Also known as Fly Amanita, this is probably one of the most famous mushrooms in the world, having made a distinct place for itself in popular culture, fairy tales, movies, and computer games. Think back to all the magical children’s stories you’ve read, including Lewis Carol’s Alice and Wonderland, and you will find that this beautiful mushroom with a bright red cap has an honorable mention time and again. Even the fact that it is highly poisonous in nature does very little to subtract from its overall charm.
The ‘Brainy’ Mushroom (Gyromitra esculenta)
Gyromitra esculenta is commonly found in North America and Europe. This mushroom that looks remarkably like a human brain (or an animal brain for that matter) can cause a health hazard when eaten raw. It is suggested that the brain mushrooms (as they are more commonly referred to) be parboiled before being used in a variety of preparations. However, owing to its potential health risks, this mushroom has been banned from being sold in public in Spain. It still remains a popular delicacy in Eastern Europe and Scandinavian countries.
The Rarest Mushroom in the World – Chorioactis
Chorioactis is also known as the Devil’s Cigar, and it is one of the rarest fungi known to the world. So far, they’ve only been spotted in central Texas (earning it the name of the Texas star) and a couple of highly remote places in Japan. The body of the fruit looks a bit like a black or dark brown cigar. But when it opens, it takes on a beautiful star-like shape. Another interesting detail about these fungi is that it is one of the few that emits a hissing or whistling sound when the fruit opens to release a cloud of spores into the air.
The Mushroom that Bleeds – Hydnellum pecki
Hydnellum Pecki, or the Bleeding Tooth fungus, gets its name from the colorful liquid that oozes from its pores. In some varieties this liquid is ruby red in color, making it look like the fungus were bleeding from within. However, this liquid can also be light pink, orange, yellow, or beige in color. Needless to say, the red liquid looks the most dramatic, by far. Although not toxic, the bleeding tooth fungus is known to be inedible to man owing to the extremely bitter taste of its flesh. However, scientific research credits this mushroom with antibiotic properties which are effective against streptococcus pneumoniae.
The Mushroom that Glows in the Dark - Mycena chlorophos
I kid you not, my dear friends. The Mycena chlorophos is a type of bioluminescent fungi that are found in Brazilian and Japanese forests. They sprout from the earth after the monsoons and are known to thrive in regions that have been left undisturbed by man. In Japan, it is not uncommon for a group of people to set off on nightly trips into the forest to see the mesmerizing sight of the floor dotted with pale phosphorous blobs of lights.
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