Mushroom Facts
Mushroom Facts

24 Interesting Mushroom Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 2, 2023
  • Mushrooms are more closely related to animals than they are to plants. Fungi and animals share a common ancestor that separated from plants about 1.1 billion years ago. Additionally, fungi, like animals, are heterotrophs rather than autotrophs (organisms that make their own food).[7]
  • Unlike plants, fungi breathe in oxygen and exhale Co2.[7]
  • Mushroom spores can survive in the vacuum and radiation of space.[7]
  • Scientists have identified around 10,000 different fungal species. However, they believe that as many as 5.1 million fungal species exist.[7]
  • Weird Mushroom Trivia
    Mushrooms are more closely related to animals than to plants
  • Fungi have chitin in their cell walls, a chemical that is also found in lobster and crab cells.[7]
  • Unlike plants that produce food through photosynthesis, mushrooms absorb nutrients from organic matter.[6]
  • Unlike plants, and similar to animals, mushrooms have chitin (a fibrous substance) in their cell walls.[6]
  • The largest and oldest living organism on the planet is a mushroom. Nicknamed the "Humongous Fungus," it grows on over 2,400 acres of land. Scientists say it has indefinite growth potential.[9]
  • Mushrooms are the fruit of fungus.[6]
  • Mushrooms can create their own airflow to better disperse their spores. They create their own "wind" by allowing their moisture to evaporate, which creates a little lift for the spores.[2]
  • Mushroom spore Facts
    Some spores can survive over 10,000 years

  • Several species of mushrooms glow in the dark. These bioluminescent mushrooms contain light-emitting compounds called luciferins, causing them to glow and attract insects.[1]
  • Ancient Japanese farmers believed that lighting strikes made mushrooms more plentiful. Recently, scientists have shown that lighting actually does help mushrooms, especially shiitake mushrooms, grow.[4]
  • The shaggy ink mushroom, also called "shaggy mane" or "lawyer's wig," uses auto-digestion to devour itself.[6]
  • Falling in love is like eating mushrooms, you never know if it’s the real thing until it’s too late.

    - Bill Ballance

  • Mushrooms have the 5th taste, or umami. The darker the mushroom, the more umami it contains.[3]
  • In 2011, scientists discovered that some mushrooms can digest polyurethane plastic and covert it into organic matter.[8]
  • An estimated 50% of all known mushrooms are edible; however, 20% can make humans sick, and 1% are fatal.[6]
  • Death Cap Mushroom Fact
    Death cap mushrooms (Amanita phalloides) are potentially lethal, even if they're cooked
  • The death cap mushroom is one of the deadliest organisms on Earth. Just half of a death cap mushroom has enough toxins to kill an adult human.[7]
  • "Toadstool" is another name for mushrooms. Though scientifically correct, both terms refer to the same fungus, but toadstools are anecdotally considered to be poisonous mushrooms.[7]
  • Over 350 million years ago, all land plants were just a few feet high, and mushrooms as high as 24 feet (7.3 m) and 3 ft (90 cm) wide flourished.[5]
  • Humans have used mushrooms for thousands of years. The 5,300-year-old mummy Otzi was found carrying two different types of mushrooms. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs from over 4,600 years ago referred to mushrooms as plants of immortality; they were so sacred that commoners were not allowed to touch them.[6]
  • It takes about 1.8 gallons of water to grow 1 gallon of mushrooms, which is less water than other crops.[6]
  • A toadstool is a mushroom that is usually a poisonous variety.[7]
  • All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms. Fungi also includes molds, yeasts, and rusts.[6]
  • The mushroom in the hit TV series "The Last of Us" is based on a real fungus named "cordyceps," or the "zombie-ant fungus." Luckily, this fungus only infects ants and other insects, not humans.[10]
    Mushroom infographic Facts

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