We learned about mushrooms and lichen in our recent nature study. I thought they were really interesting, so I decided to do a post about them. But don’t worry – I included a bunch of pictures that I took, along with the facts.
First, mushrooms – A mushroom starts from a tiny spore, which is like a speck of dust. The spores come from the gills of a mushroom (on the underside).
I think the little “dust specks” in this picture are actually spores! It’s a super-cropped picture of the gills of the mushroom above.
The spore “seed” sends out a network of tiny roots called mycelium. The roots are white and extremely thin. Mushrooms grow up from these roots. Sometimes the mushrooms pop up in a circle called a ‘fairy ring.’ Can’t you just imagine the fairies coming out from their mushroom homes and holding a meeting in the middle of this fairy ring?! 😀
An important thing to remember about mushrooms is don’t pick and eat a mushroom from the wild. They are likely poisonous. Yeah, I know, you have probably already heard that at least a million times. But now you’ve heard it a million and one. 🙂
There are a few signs especially that tell you that a mushroom is poisonous:
- Scales covering the mushroom
- A sac at the bottom of the mushroom stem
- Mushrooms with shiny or brightly colored caps
But just because a mushroom does not have these characteristics does not mean it is OK to eat. The bottom line is, just don’t eat a mushroom unless it comes from a grocery store.
Here is a mushroom with a shiny cap – it must be poisonous! But not to the touch – I hope. Hee-hee!
And more mushrooms we’ve found…
Now for lichen and fungi. I mostly have pictures for this section, but there are a few interesting facts about them too.
- Bracket fungi – Fungus comes in a variety of different colors and shapes. Some of kinds are quite pretty, and some are deadly to trees. Bracket fungus is a very common kind of fungus. You can see it often on dead trees or rotting logs. Some species of bracket fungi will enter a tree through a “wound,” like where a limb has been chopped off, or where an axe cut into the wood. It spreads its mycelium, or roots, into the wood of the tree and sometimes kills it.
- Lichen – Lichen also comes in a variety of shapes and colors. You can find lichen all over the place!
Here is a collage of both fungi and lichen:
It’s amazing how varied and beautiful God made even these lowly plants! I especially love mushrooms. They’re so cute and beautiful and interesting! And the funny thing is, I don’t even really like to eat mushrooms – especially cooked ones. I’ll just take pictures instead. 😛
By the way, most if not all of this information is from the book we use for nature study called – The Handbook of Nature Study. (Click on the link to take you to an Amazon listing. One comment says that it doesn’t include one part of the book, so you might want to check that out.) It’s a pretty hefty book, but it’s very interesting and useful, especially for… well… nature study.
Would you like me to do more of these nature posts? Have a great day! And tell me if you find any mushrooms, fungi, or lichen!