Did you know that thousands of years before flora & tree life overtook the land, earth was covered by giant mushrooms?
Researchers have discovered that land plants had evolved on Earth around 700 million years ago whereas land fungi formed approximately 1,300 million years ago (truly ancient beings!)
Did you also know that the largest living organism in the world today is a honey fungus located in the Blue Mountains Oregon measuring 3.8km across?! How on earth did it get so massive?!
The word mycelium literally means ‘more than one’ and refers to the thread-like network of a fungus.
Mycelia makes up the largest part of the mushroom and normally lives inside the wood, straw or grain that the mushroom is growing on. The fruiting body, or part of the mushroom that we consume, surprisingly makes up a very small part of the entire fungi – think of it like the bulb of a flower; mushrooms bloom in the same way that roses do!
Although mushrooms bloom like roses, they do not reproduce by seed or gather their energy through photosynthesis like them! Instead, when mushrooms reach maturity, they release spores which spread far & in search of suitable germination locations.
When germinating, the spores create a mass of interwoven, single-cell wide structures known as hyphae (also sometimes called Shiro) Collectively, large masses of hyphae are known as the mycelium.
When growing in the wild the chances of mushroom spores germinating and then actually producing a mushroom are quite slim. The environment, temperatures and climate need to be just right to ensure that mushroom fruiting bodies can bloom and sustain properly which is why mushrooms are highly
prized and thrilling to forage in the wild.
Mycelia are not only magical but are vital in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for their decomposition of plant material. They contribute to the organic segment of soil, and their growth positively affects the carbon cycle by releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere (go you little angels)! Certain types of mycelia also increase water and nutrient absorption of plants and boost flora
resistance to many plant diseases.
In short, mycelium could potentially be our future. For a bit of a clearer understanding, we absolutely love this short video by Host Defence Mushroom
which clearly explains the mushroom life cycle and visually breaks down what mycelium is.