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Mushrooms


Mushrooms are the most extraordinary examples of the vegetable kingdom. Composed of a complex structure, these marvelous specimens include thousands of species that in turn make up the variegated world of mycology. The latter is the science that studies mushrooms. We, for our part, in addition to studying mushrooms, we also want to spread the knowledge to our readers. That's why, in our magazine, we have created a special section dedicated to them. Mushrooms are not only those we know as foods or as poisonous "plants", but also microscopic formations that lead a parasitic life attacking other plants or animals, including humans. When a person is infected by a fungus it is also referred to as mycosis. In general, all the mushrooms, even those we bring to the kitchen, are species that lead a parasitic life. In fact, most mushrooms need to use another living species to reproduce and develop. This is why many mushrooms grow above trees and stumps or at the base of the trunk. When a fungus grows at the expense of another plant, we speak of a parasite, whereas when a fungus develops thanks to another plant which, in turn, benefits from its presence, we speak of a symbiont fungus. Mushrooms can be classified as pathogenic, toxic, poisonous and edible. This classification depends on the nature of the fungus, and the consequences it causes in other living beings if it is ingested or if it infects tissues by penetrating them. Pathogenic fungi are actually microscopic species that attack both plants and humans. In plants we also talk about parasitic fungi or fungal diseases, while in men we talk about mycosis. Mycosis of the nails is very common, a fungal infection that is often caused by excess humidity. In fact, the fungi proliferate in humid and water-rich environments, but also in habitats with high temperatures and with a high degree of humidity. Many people develop nail fungus after attending public swimming pools. Also some female pathologies, such as "candidiasis", are caused by a fungus: "the candida". In addition to the microscopic visible fungi, there are also clearly visible fungi that can cause serious poisoning. In fact, poisonous or poisonous mushrooms, although similar to many edible mushrooms, contain toxins that can cause serious poisoning in the liver, intestine or neurology. In our section we will talk more about toxic and poisonous mushrooms, indicating their name, species, morphology and generalities. Edible mushrooms are the most known and appreciated ones. In fact it could not be otherwise, since these mushrooms also lend themselves to the preparation of tasty recipes. Edible mushrooms, also called edible, are particularly tasty and nutritious. Among the most famous edible species we remember the porcino, the chiodini, the gallinaccio, the prataiolo, the mazza of drum, the cardarello, the piopparello, the orecchione and the sleeping marzuolo. These are the common names of the fungi, which, in turn, also have a scientific name that we will indicate and examine better in our section. Some edible mushrooms have doubles, that is of similar species that are poisonous. Some mushrooms are also poisonous and deadly. There are toxic species that cause only severe poisoning and poisonous species that can cause death. We will discover the scientific name of these mushrooms and their deleterious effects on the human organism, within the individual articles of our section. Here we cite some of the most famous and fearsome poisonous mushrooms. It is the amanita muscaria, also called the evil egg, the amanita phalloides, the amanita panterina, the malevolent porcino, the poor colic, the olive mushroom, the red colombina, the inocybe fastigiata, the entoloma lividum and spring amanita also known as amanita verna. In our section we will also provide the scientific name of the species just indicated with their common name. Some Chinese mushroom species seem to possess therapeutic properties. This is stated by the Micotherapy, a science that joins Phytotherapy. The active ingredients of these fungi seem to have extremely positive effects on the human organism, improving its psychophysical conditions. It is also said that some mushrooms also cure tumors. But this is a subject too delicate and controversial to be able to make admissions or denials. There are, indeed, studies that are focusing on the active ingredients contained in the venom of the amanita phalloides, the deadly fungus that can kill a man with a single bite. Studies are still ongoing, but it appears that the poison of the fungus is able to arrest and kill cancer cells of different types of cancer. Unfortunately this is not the place to talk about anticancer therapies and their validity. What is certain is that the studies on the venom of the amanita phalloides have given encouraging results, but this does not mean being tempted to collect the fungus and eat it. This choice would be suicide because the amanita phalloides, once ingested, releases a poison that can make the liver explode in a few minutes. Patients with cancer must only contact oncologists and specialized doctors. They will, in fact, after evaluating the type of tumor, prescribe and recommend the most effective therapy. Poisonous mushrooms can have effects that vary according to the species ingested. Some cause only colic and gastrointestinal disorders, others can cause more severe disorders and even death. The most obvious symptoms of taking a poisonous fungus are vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. They can also follow neurological disorders. Amanita muscaria, for example, also causes hallucinations. Because of this property, the poison of the fungus has been used as a drug by some tribal populations. Edible mushrooms are used in many recipes. The risotto with porcini mushrooms is famous in this sense. With edible mushrooms you can prepare lots of tasty dishes. Edible mushrooms are also good as a side dish. The main preparations of edible mushrooms include sautéed mushrooms, grilled, boiled, salad, breaded or turned into sauce for risotto and pasta dishes. It must be said that before cooking them, the mushrooms are deprived of the stem and must be washed and cleaned carefully. In fact there are mushrooms that are edible only after a thorough washing and cooking. These fungi, which we will talk about better in our section, from raw materials release substances that are very toxic to the human body. For the rest, good and non-poisonous mushrooms can be consumed in many ways and with many recipes. Mushrooms can also be tubers. In this case we speak of tuberous mushrooms or more simply of tubers. The most appreciated tubers are truffles. These mushrooms have a knotty and globular shape, similar to a stone. They are found underground and are particularly appreciated by connoisseurs. The economic value of truffles is very high. Some valuable species can cost as much as three hundred euros a year. Among the most famous truffles we remember the white truffle and the black truffle. The white truffle, scientifically called "tuber magnatum" is the most prized. In Italy it is mainly located in Alba, in Piedmont, where an international truffle fair is organized every year. We will find out more about the characteristics and properties of truffles in our section. The macroscopic mushrooms, that is those that can be seen with the naked eye, have a very characteristic and can be summarized in cuticle, cap, lamellae, stem and volva. The cuticle is the outer part of the fungus, the skin of the hat, in short. The latter usually has a circular shape, it can be concave, convex or jagged, with linear, jagged or irregular or fan-shaped margins. From the lower part of the hat start the lamellae, pleated lines or strips that can be more or less attached to the stem. The volva is a hood-shaped part that wraps around the base of the stem. This part is present only in some species of fungi, such as amanitas and volvaries. Often, the presence of the volva manages to make one poisonous species stand out from the other. Many poisonous amanitas are mistaken for edible because the stem is torn off with the hands leaving the volva hidden on the ground. The mushrooms, on the other hand, are harvested by slowly cutting the stem at the base with a suitable knife and pulling away even the parts hidden on the ground. The mushrooms have not only shapes but also very different colors. These colors can be uniform over the whole carpophore, or body of the fungus, or alternated between the cuticle, the cap and the stem. There are gray mushrooms, others earth-colored, others still yellow, others green, others white, others still brown. Both edible and poisonous mushrooms have a high variability of shapes and colors: it is not enough to recognize them to be able to distinguish an edible species from a poisonous one. Green columbine, for example, scientifically called russula virescens, can be confused with greenish amanita, alias amanita phalloides, very poisonous green-cap mushroom. Very small amounts of amanita phalloides can kill a man in minutes. The champignon, on the other hand, is often all white. This fungus can be confused with spring amanita and entonoma lividum, other poisonous species with white carpophore and capable of causing death. The spring amanita is present throughout Italy during the spring, the season from which the common name of the species derives. The entonoma lividum develops mainly in summer. Some mushrooms may have stems and red hats. The red-stemmed mushroom is the satanic boletus or malevolent boletus, easily distinguishable from the common boletus which has a brown cap and a clear stem. The inner part of the fungus, the one that composes it, is called meat. The latter is the one that best represents the species of fungus sought. The quality of the mushroom can be deduced from the consistency of the meat, from its hold and friability. Many specimens have a white, firm and compact flesh, while others, on the other hand, have a more delicate flesh or can break at first touch. Even poisonous mushrooms have a certain type of meat. This part, however, emits poisonous substances and it would be better to avoid not only eating it but even touching it. Always stay away from poisonous mushrooms. The taste of the meat of edible mushrooms, as well as the smell, can instead be very characteristic. Some are even sweet or fruity, others predominantly aromatic. The toxic fungi may not emit any odor, others may also have a meat that smells of rancid, but it is better not to be fooled by any pleasant smells: these, in fact, can also belong to poisonous mushrooms. The mushrooms are of the species that develop in the woods, both coniferous and broad-leaved. The season in which it is possible to find them is autumn. Many species also develop in spring and summer and even in winter. Mushrooms can grow in the plains, hills and mountains. Some species are typical of fields and meadows, such as, for example, field mushrooms. The reproduction of fungi always begins with the emission of spores, or the fertile part of the fungus. Spores, often massive, have different shapes and colors depending on the species. Moreover, the fungi can develop into isolated specimens or in groups. Some species are gregarious, that is, they mature together with other fungi. Those with parasitic or symbiotic behavior can also be found on tree trunks and stumps. Truffles, on the other hand, are mainly found underground. Many specimens even develop in a circle, giving the idea of ​​the circles that witches created in the past during the Sabbaths. In fact, many specimens are said to grow on witch circles. The collection of edible mushrooms should only be done if sufficient experience and knowledge of mushrooms and mycology is available. Given the remarkable similarities between poisonous and toxic species, it is good to avoid "going for mushrooms" when you do not have the necessary experience. In this case, it is better to be accompanied by an expert. For the collection of truffles, on the other hand, it is necessary to obtain a specific license issued after passing an exam. Mushroom hunters experience harvesting as fun or an exciting hobby. They are not wrong, because the woods, the nature, the trees and all the natural habitat in which the mushrooms develop, have an extraordinary charm and beauty. In spite of everything, however, prudence is never too much with mushrooms and it is advisable to always contact the nearest ASL in case of doubts about the specimens collected. Edible mushrooms are a complete food due to the substances contained in their meat. Being vegetables, mushrooms, like many other vegetables, contain a large amount of water, nitrogenous substances, carbon hydrates, cellulose, fats and ashes. Cooked in the right way, the edible specimens are also easy to digest. Of course, seasoning them with too much fat and dips, can make them less digestible or more caloric. Precisely because considered a complete food, edible mushrooms are also called "poor man's meat". There are some beliefs and myths about mushrooms that should be debunked. For example, it is not true that drying poisonous mushrooms makes them edible, on the contrary it is the opposite: by losing water, these mushrooms retain a greater concentration of poison. Another myth to debunk, the fact that the mushrooms eaten by snails are edible. In reality, toxic and poisonous species can be edible only for animals and insects and not for humans. Therefore, even mushrooms eaten by snails can be poisonous and deadly. Moreover it is not said that the blackening of the garlic or of the silver spoon or of the onion during the cooking of the mushroom reveals its possible toxicity. This test can be done for some species, while for others, equally poisonous, it may not serve. Further details on all aspects concerning mushrooms will be better examined within the single contents of our section. Enjoy the reading.

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