Cornell University

Uses of Fungi

refreshingly fungusy

I ate fungus slime, and it made my breath minty fresh

Fungi have been harnessed by industry to make all kinds of things that might surprise you. It’s tricky to get through a week without eating something fungal. Today we bring you pullulan, with which you make edible films and other clever things. It’s a compound produced by a slippery mold, Aureobasidium pullulans.

Paul Stamets hunting Agarikon


The fungus Fomitopsis officinalis has a long history of use in North America and elsewhere, both as medicine and as a medium of ritualistic art. Read about Agarikon and its uses, and follow Fungi Perfecti President Paul Stamets on a successful expedition to find this rare mushroom.

Sacred mushrooms

Mushrooms as Sacred Objects in North America

Although surely many Native American peoples were experts on fungi, we have little knowledge of how they used them, particularly the more ephemeral mushrooms. Here’s a primer on three different bracket fungi (conks) used by some native peoples.

fungi as insulation

The fungus you want in your walls

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.

Pycnoporus dye

Dyeing with Lichens & Mushrooms

Dying with lichens and mushrooms! We gave it a good shot with help from a local expert on natural dyes. It was fun.


Most people don't pay much attention to fungi, which include things like mushrooms, molds, yeasts, and mildews. Here at Cornell we think they're pretty fascinating. In fact, even the most disgusting foot diseases and moldy strawberries are dear to our hearts. We'd like to talk to you about fungi, so that like us, you too can tell gross stories at the dinner table. Afterwards, maybe you'll notice some things you would have overlooked before, and we think this could be good for the planet.

Kathie T. Hodge, Editor

Beneath Notice, our book of borescopic mycology.


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