Spot on Science: Growing Mushrooms with a Fun-gi

What exactly are mushrooms? Mushrooms are actually the reproductive structure of a fungus. 

A fungus and plural fungi, describes any plant-like organism that does not make chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the element that gives plants their green pigmentation, and it’s what helps them convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis.

Types of fungi include molds, yeasts, and mushrooms!

What’s so special about mushrooms? You know, besides being super cool to spot in the wild, mushrooms provide lots to their surrounding environments. They act as decomposers.

Mushrooms partner with every plant on the planet, by thriving off of the nutrients fungi create. Mushrooms create these nutrients by decomposing, or breaking down dead plants and animals.

Decomposing is a necessary part of the natural food web, not only by providing nutrients to plants and animals, but by returning nutrients back to the ecosystem.

There are approximately 14-thousand species of mushrooms in the world, but be careful not every mushroom you find is safe to eat! Over 70 species of mushrooms are poisonous and deadly. The safest way to find mushrooms to eat is by purchasing them from a mushroom farmer like Brandon or at your local grocery store. 

Class Discussion Questions: 

  • Create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting producers, consumers, and decomposers.

  • Take it outside! Go for a walk in nature and see if you can spot any wild mushrooms. But remember, you must NOT eat them!

  • Get cooking! Have you ever tried mushrooms? If you’re feeling adventurous, pick up some mushrooms on your next grocery trip and try adding them to one of your meals.

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