Fungi in human culture
In which a prodigious colony of puffballs consumes my pile of mulch. Yesterday I walked by them at the tail end of a downpour. The last raindrops were generating little snorts of spores like dragon smoke. Go ahead, give them a stomp or two, but don’t inhale puffball spores in excess, people, it will not end well.
Fungi are good at binding stuff with their filamentous cells. Now a group of New York entrepreneurs at Ecovative is producing sustainable packaging and insulation based on agricultural wastes bound by fungal mycelium. So instead of petroleum-based styrofoam, they can grow us some packing materials in whatever shape we like.
Eyes tired from too much reading? Use your ears for a change to listen to Science Friday do fungi in a radio show called “Fungi: the good, the bad, and the edible.” The show features your humble editor, Kathie Hodge, along with mycologist and author David Fischer, and guests Kelli Hoover and Arturo Casadevall. We field calls about everything from foxfire to species concepts and the extraterrestrial origins of fungi(!).
Our intrepid reporter studies the science behind the movie, The Blob, debunking Dr. Meddow’s longstanding theory that The Blob is a mutant bacterium from outer space. Warning: this post contains actual ooze, plus a song that, if you get it in your head, will haunt you for days.
Reishei mushrooms have long been respected and renowned for their healing powers. Despite their fame, you might be able to find them in your neck of the woods.
Mycologists are fond of naming things after mythological characters, like Daedalus, an engineer who built a maze to hold that ill-tempered Minotaur. Our fungus has a maze-like spore-bearing surface worthy of Daedalus. His later work on Icarus’ wings wasn’t as successful…