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The Fascinating World of Mushrooms
By Dr.Anand T & Geeta N Pereira

Sep 27, 2008

Come to think of mushrooms and the most likely thought that comes to mind is their exquisite taste, color and texture. However, very few people are aware that these unique fungi aid the human immune system and contribute to a healthful diet. A healthy intake of mushrooms protects the body cells from heart disease, oral cancers, and slows down ageing. The word mushroom is derived from the Frankish word “mussiriones” referring to the meadow mushroom and from the French ”mousseron “meaning growing on moist moss.

The popularity of low carbohydrate diet is now gaining popularity in Indian homes. People are making a conscious effort to cut back on foods that lead to cholesterol and heart disease. Mushrooms are ideally positioned to fill this gap. Ladies who are especially health conscious on the weight front can include mushrooms in their diet because the role of mushrooms in weight loss and maintenance is known since ages.

 

Many are unaware that mushrooms are highly nutritious, delicious, and low in calories and excellent weight watchers. In the West; the mushroom industry is a multi million dollar industry. They are a healthy addition to any meal. While some mushrooms make excellent dishes in their own right, some are suitable for flavoring such things as soups and stews. Mushroom can be added to enhance the food value and in a variety of culinary delights.

The nutritional value of mushrooms as sugar free, protein rich food supplement is well known. Mushrooms are grouped with vegetables, yet provide the proteins found in meats. The edible mushrooms are high in antioxidants which help in disease prevention. Most importantly, mushrooms are fat and cholesterol free, low in sodium, yet provide several vitamins, minerals and amino acids which act as building blocks of proteins, in the form of riboflavin, selenium and niacin. Mushrooms are the only vegetables with vitamin D, essential for bone and teeth development. The copper content plays a crucial role in the manufacture of red blood cells, which acts as an oxygen carrier. Potassium controls the blood pressure and prevents stroke and selenium boosts the immune system.

The use of mushrooms as food has a long and varied history. These edible fungi have been used as food ever since the hunting and gathering stage of our prehistoric ancestors. The credit of popularizing mushrooms goes to the Greeks and Romans who mastered the art of exploiting the culinary benefits of mushroom fungi in preparing varied exotic dishes. A particular species of mushroom called boletaria was so highly prized by the Romans that certain cooking pots were set aside and reserved for its exclusive preparation. In the early days, scientific tools were not available to determine if wild species of mushrooms were poisonous or edible. Animals and slaves were used as guinea pigs to test the efficacy of newly discovered forest mushrooms.

The biodiverse Western Ghat forests are a treasure trove of mushroom biodiversity. Our research for the past twenty years has clearly indicated that only a select few wild mushrooms have been identified and hordes of new species are yet to be discovered and classified. Mushrooms thrive under varied ecological conditions, from moist to dry. A trek into the western Ghat forests during monsoon will reveal a wide variety of mushrooms in different forms and colors. It is estimated that the mushroom species may exceed that of plants, animals and birds combined. The mushroom biota recorded in the Country includes 1200 species of fungi compared to the 14,000 species of mushrooms reported from all over the world. This represents only 10 % of the world biota of mushrooms. In the Indian context approximately 350 species of mushrooms are edible. The Western Ghat to date consists of 750 species of mushrooms. They have an ecologically significant role to play in the utilization of dead organic matter and recycling the same into essential nutrients.

Mushrooms are one of the most important groups of microorganisms, called Fungi. Some are edible and a few others poisonous. At times hallucinating and bioluminescent mushrooms are observed either on the floor of the forest or on dead trees or decaying organic matter. Most of the edible mushrooms are distinctive in their characteristic features, which are obvious to a trained eye of a microbiologist or a horticulturist. People should be careful while picking mushrooms in the wild because the ordinary looking mushrooms can be deadly poisonous. If you do choose to harvest mushrooms in the wild, make certain that they are identified by a professional before you consume them. Many mushrooms resemble the normally safe edible mushrooms, but in reality are false mushrooms, and can be deadly poisonous. For your own safety, do not experiment. There is an old saying “There are old mushroom hunters, and bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.” A word of caution: Mushroom hunting is not a hobby for the careless or uninformed.

Wild edible mushrooms have interesting local names. These are derived from either the habitat (e.g., Roen olmi = termite hill mushroom), shape (Khut olme = mushroom with crutch, Fugo = balloon), color (Tamdi olmi), size or occasionally the fruiting season (Shit) olmi, which fruit during winter).

In India three types of mushrooms are cultivated on a commercial scale. The white mushroom also known as table mushroom, cultivated mushroom or button mushroom ( Agaricus bisporus ), the Paddy straw mushroom ( Volvariella volvacea) and the oyster mushroom (Pleurotus sajor caju).

MUSHROOM SELECTION: When buying mushrooms from the supermarket shelf, Choose those with a firm texture and even color with tightly-closed caps. If the gills are exposed, it's an indication of age, and they are probably past their prime. Discolored, broken and damaged mushrooms with soft spots should be avoided.

MUSHROOM FACTS:

It is a fact that the price of wild mushrooms can range for reasons such as taste, historical significance and availability. The truffles have a unique flavor. Their garlic bouquet and texture and flavor are unlike any other mushroom on the planet. These mushrooms only grow on hill sides close to the root zone of trees and are located with the help of a trained pig. European truffles can sell for over $ 1,600 per pound!

One Portabella mushroom generally has more potassium than a banana. 

Almost overnight a mushroom can grow from a pin sized head to a medium sized balloon with rapid intake of water.

Many of the edible white mushrooms do appear within 24 hours of a thunderstorm and this is no myth.

GANODERMA: This particular mushroom is cultivated for medicinal properties instead of for food, on a commercial scale in China. It is known to cure chronic bronchitis, coronary heart disease and cancer. Various types of Ganoderma are commonly observed inside the western Ghat forests.

PADDY STRAW MUSHROOM: The commercial cultivation of this mushroom contributes to 6 % of total world production of cultivated species. This particular mushroom has the characteristic property of Agino Moto.
Amantia phalloides, commonly referred to as the DEATH CAP is considered as one of the most poisonous mushrooms in the world. Amantia muscaria, a reddish colored mushroom rarely found in the Western Ghats is said to induce a hallucinogenic effect on human beings.

In spite of the fact that a majority of the mushroom species has yet to be identified, the threat to mushroom diversity is clearly visible due to habitat destruction, deforestation, land use change and building mega projects inside the core of the forest zone.

Also See:

READ 'EXCLUSIVE ARCHIVES'
Comments on this article
Jure, MangaloreMonday, February 27, 2017
Whoever reads this, the most important thing to keep in mind is not to try and collect mushrooms amd eat them if you have never done it before. I come from Slovenia, where we have an incredibly strong tradition of picking them and let me tell you every year people.poison themselves to death by being stupid. The ONLY way to learn how to identify the edible ones is by being thought by somebody that already knows how to do it. Using books or pictures from internet will sooner or later get you poisoned or killed. I have been picking mushrooms for over 20 years and let me tell you that a single species can look vastly different depending on wjere exactly it grows, how old it is and what the weather has been like. And when I say vastly different, you need to realize that to a novice a lot of different species will look the same. Further on, using European books is not safe for mushrooms in India. For example a mushroom I regularly pick in Europe looks exactly the same as a mushroom in USA, but if I were to pick it in USA I would get seriously poisoned. Fact is that I would never dare to use my knowledge of mushrooms from Europe to rely on in India, and I collect about 30 different edible species and can identify a further 20 non edible ones. And for the love of god dont rely on things like the good ones coming out in 24h after a thunderstorm and them being white. There is no color codes to rely on.
Comment on this message     

chaithra k shetty, mangloreFriday, December 23, 2016
respected sir and madam ur article is really good and very informative to me. since i am preparing a poster on a topic mushroom cultivation on sustain able livili hood in south canara i wanted some of the refernce from this article so i hope u dont mind ...of me doing this one and for all i wanted ur permission..
thank you
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Jacinth, Karnataka/CoorgTuesday, July 12, 2011
Are all the mushrooms pictured in your article eddible. If not which are the poisionous.

I did have books on mushrooms that grow in Europe. Are there any small pocket books available that would identify Indian mushrooms.
Thanks.
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Jyothi, Sakleshpur/MumbaiTuesday, December 07, 2010
Article and pictures are truly informative, is there any place in south Mumbai where I can get training and raw materials for growing Mushrooms in small scale?
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Yazdy, Friday, September 17, 2010
Dear Dr. Anand, and Geeta N. Pereira,
Nice pictures and nice article. I live in Wayanad in Kerala and do come across a lot of mushrooms in my little holding. One of them is large white and very tasty. I do not know its name. If you let me have your e mail address I can send it over to you for Identifying it. Incidentally I am a member of efloraofindia which compiles data on plants and fungi etc. Would you like to become a member if you are not already one? My e mail address is yazdypalia@gmail.com please in a line.
Regards
Yazdy Palia.
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vivek colaco, sakleshpurMonday, January 25, 2010
Dear Anand and Geetha Thank you for your Healthy Article of Mushrooms. It is very helpful for a healthy living .
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Satish kumar pv, BahrainMonday, December 14, 2009
Dear Dr.Anand T & Geeta N Pereira, Nice to Read ur article Regarding Ganoderma Lucidum.I am working for DXN Malaysia,as a manager and has given health benifits to thousands of people! (Ganotherapy).Pls visit www.dxn2u.com.we are alive since 1993. I Respectfully invite you to be our member!,If you are! then Its a great honour for us!. 00973-17217710.
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Dr Yajnesh shetty, South canara/MumbaiWednesday, December 02, 2009
Great article! Very informative! I too was wondering about a local variety of mushroom in South Kanara as asked by another reader above .I have heard of these mushrooms myself from my mother. She says it was called kalla lambu (rock mushroom).I have been trying to find the scientific name of these mushrooms myself
Comment on this message     

Sabira, gulbargaSunday, April 12, 2009
I have visited the wonderful and mind blowing pictures liked it but our region in dry were temp is high nearly 42degree so can u give suggestion how to culture it?
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Dr Rudra, MangaloreSaturday, April 04, 2009
Dear friends .Indeed the information and photos are very much impressive and find good for knowledge to everybody.
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sriram, bangaloreFriday, April 03, 2009
sir i would like to know whether poisonous mushrooms like deathcaps&toadstools also exist at western ghats and how to identify them
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Dr.Anand & Geeta, JOES SUSTAINABLE FARMThursday, October 23, 2008

Dear Dev Prabhu,The mushrooms are from the Western Ghat forest ranges,comprising of Coorg, Hassan and Chikmagalur districts.These regions have a well distributed and a very high rainfall pattern. The number and type of forest trees (hardwood, semi hardwood and shrubs)influences the mushroom diversity. We have collected these pictures over a period of 20 years, when we undertook the difficult and daunting task of mapping the biodiversity of the western ghats. we have sent a few specimens to labs for identification.

You have raised some valid points. Mushrooms which appear 24 hours after a thunderstorm are the common button mushrooms. Many species resemble the edible ones, but at times it is dangerous to experiment, because we have literally seen workers who handle wild mushrooms suffer from swelling of the joints, muscle pain and other facial aberrations.This book written by Jacqueline Seymour.1978. Mushrooms and Toadstools. The Color Nature Library. Crescent Books.will throw light on various mushroom species.

Comment on this message     

Dev Prabhu, Dallas, TexasWednesday, October 22, 2008

Very informative. I have a question about the type of mushrooms that I have seen only in Mangalore/Udupi district. Let me list what I know:

 1. They grow mostly closer to the western ghats - Karkala, Hebri, etc, etc. 2. Grow only during the first couple of weeks after the first thunderstorms. That's it. 3. They are somewhat similar to truffles. i.e., they grow just below ground surface, with hair-like white wisps from the top visible on the ground surface. So, one has to look for these wisps, poke and dig the mushrooms out of the ground. 3. They are mostly white (at least inside) and round, with a slightly tougher shell on the outside with soft core inside. 4. The names that I recall are: "Gudgudu Alambe" (thunder mushroom?) or "Pathra Alambe" (rock mushroom?).

 What exactly are these mushrooms? I haven't seen them use in any other place/cuisine: Europe, US, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. Heck, I have not seen them used anywhere else in India itself. These are not some miniature versions of "Puffball Mushrooms" that you see in UK, are they? Do you know what the botanical name for these mushrooms is? Appreciate any pointers. Thanks. - Dev

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siripong, ThailandSunday, October 05, 2008
I would like to know, please, How to take a beautiful photo like this.
Comment on this message     

S.Asif, AbudhabiSunday, October 05, 2008
It was good to know about the awarness on mushrooms. I would particularly like to talk about the properties of the Ganoderma lucidum. Plz contct me @ ahsaas123@hotmail.com.
Comment on this message     

ASHOK, PERTHThursday, October 02, 2008
Your article has sent my adrenalin up and if I ever get a chance to take your family to Perth youll will be multi billionaires. Excellent well done the Pereiras.
Comment on this message     

Liza Gina Pais, MysoreThursday, October 02, 2008
Anand Uncle-Very good mushroom's,We like Mushroom's,Thank you very much-Liza & Leander Pais Mysore
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Leander Pais, MysoreThursday, October 02, 2008
Uncle Anand-I read the article & we appreciate your photography,I like mushrooms very much & will continue to share the knowledge. Thank you for the article-All the best Leander Pais St Josephs Primary School 6th Standard Mysore-INDIA
Comment on this message     

Leona Pais, PuneThursday, October 02, 2008
Anand-I have gone through the article & you have shown that you have a lot of knowledge to share,The pictures are excellent & the contents of the article are very informative,Keep up the good work & it is always a pleasure reading your articles.
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Naveen d costa ( CHINA GUANGZHOU), Kirem/Aikala Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Very very nice pictures.Keep up d Good job Thanks Anand&Geetha.
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rosemary, India/USATuesday, September 30, 2008
Very Informative, did not know so Many different varieties of Mushroom existed.Nice Pictures
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A.D'Cunha Shenoy, MangaluruMonday, September 29, 2008
Well worth reading the Mushroom article. Some are edible and some are not. Indeed healthy and known to contain vitamin D3 in addition to the properties you mention in the ariticle. I like the stringy ones, thatlook like noodles and these are abslutely tasty and are grown plenty in our land. But Dr. Anand and Dr. Gita one note of caution, If they are grown in the wild or even ones own land, particualry in the vicinity of where "Cobra" resides and the mushrooms grown in these habitats can be exremely "poisonous". So one should be very careful where they pick the mushrooms from. Thanks for the article.
Comment on this message     

Naomy Cunanan, Fairfield, CaliforniaMonday, September 29, 2008
Great article! GANODERMA: This particular mushroom is cultivated for medicinal properties instead of for food. It is known to cure chronic bronchitis, coronary heart disease and cancer. I do believed in this because I took megadoze of Ganoderma Lucidum pair of RG/GL of Daxen comapny. My doctor was Amazed because my cancer cells became normal in just 5 chemos. Thanks for this additional information
Comment on this message     

Simon Lasrado, Sullia/BengaluruMonday, September 29, 2008
First it was ripened coffee seeds,then cobra on the coffee seeds and now cultivation of mushrooms.Thank you Dr.Anand and Mrs Geetha Periera for those beautiful photoes of colourful mushrooms and nice article about it.And also thank you daijiworld.com for uploading these photographs of mushrooms.
Comment on this message     

Ronald Gomes, Kadri, MangaloreMonday, September 29, 2008
Anand/Geeta, thanks for the very informative article.Super photos indeed.
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patrick, India/USAMonday, September 29, 2008
Briliant pictures, good articlel something we see very rare,hats off
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patrick, India/USAMonday, September 29, 2008
Briliant pictures, good artical something we see very rare,hats off
Comment on this message     

JOHN , NEW ARK. U.S.A.Monday, September 29, 2008
Thank you for the very Knowledgeable / Eye Opening / Food for Thought article. Excellent photographs.
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John Pereira, Sakleshpur/NJ USAMonday, September 29, 2008
Thank you for the very Knowledgeable / Eye Opening / Food for Thought article. Excellent photographs.
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rakesh, sakelshpurSunday, September 28, 2008
Anand,thanks for spending so much of your personal time for 'us'.
Comment on this message     

Abdul, Mura - BatrekereSunday, September 28, 2008
Excellent article and treasure.
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IVAN&VICTOR D'SOUZA, PALIMAR/ISRAELSunday, September 28, 2008
Very very nice pictures.Keep up d Good job Thanks Anand&Geetha...
Comment on this message     

Fernandes, GoaSunday, September 28, 2008
Good work keep it up...And may GOd bless you...Please can you send us some good fast recipies (mashrroms)
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Melita, Mangalore/DubaiSunday, September 28, 2008
What lovely pictures! and an absolutely fascinating article. Good job Anand & Geeth..
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Allen Pais, SiddapurSunday, September 28, 2008
Anand. The article is excellent,Kepp up the good work.The photography is par excellence,You have in deed shared a lot of unknown knowledge.. Once again your knowledge is tremendous & your experiences are ranging through a wide area.Your work on Environment will benefit the next generation if not the present. Congratulations. Best Regards-Allen,Leona,Leander,Liza Pais Mysore-INDIA
Comment on this message     

NIHAL JOSEPH, MANGALORESaturday, September 27, 2008
As a student, the mushroom article and pictures are very educative and will inspire me to protect the biodiversity of the westernghats
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Aubrey D'Souza, Dubai/MangaloreSaturday, September 27, 2008
Fascinating article. Drs. A&G Pereira never leave anything unanswered or unexplained. I have also read their articles on coffee which are so informative for growers such as I. Thanks for the education and knowledge
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ROMOLA, SAKLESHPURSaturday, September 27, 2008
The magic of mushrooms during monsoon is a treat for one's eyes. Good job, gr8 article.
Comment on this message     

Mohan Menezes, DubaiSaturday, September 27, 2008
Very nice article! It was quite informative and the pictures were superb. While I have always enjoyed mushrooms, I had not realized that they were such a good weight watcher tool! So I need them very badly. Thanks to the authors!
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payal pereira, mangaloreSaturday, September 27, 2008
mushrooms look really great pics have a great impact on d eyes keep up d good work!!!!!!!
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Lili, MangaloreSaturday, September 27, 2008
Great article! Congrats to the authors.It will be very kind of you if you show(name) some mushrooms in the pics which are eatable.(yummy..bcoz we have many kind at our home) Thank you.
Comment on this message     

Fr Roque D'Souza, Mangalore (Seminary)/ Fort Dodge, IowaSaturday, September 27, 2008
Congrats to the authors. Picturesque, informative and educative for better nutritious diet. Thanks
Comment on this message     

ANIL DSOUZA, Dubai/MangaloreSaturday, September 27, 2008
Very nice pictures and a nice article too keep it up bro!
Comment on this message     

Noel Frank, Magalore,- KSASaturday, September 27, 2008
Very informative. Need more such writings having practical usage for daily and healthy living
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