Sunday, March 21, 2021

Why Do Mushrooms Appear Overnight?

One puzzling characteristic of mushrooms is how they're able to pop up overnight, apparently fully formed. 

Ivan Shishkin, Amanita 1879

To understand how that happens, it's important to recognize first that mushrooms aren't the whole organism. They're just the fruiting bodies of extensive networks known as mycelia

As fungus expert Merlin Sheldrake explains in his new book Entangled Life, "When you look at mushrooms, you're looking at fruit. Imagine bunches of grapes growing out of the ground in their place. Then imagine the vine that produced them, twisting and branching below the surface of the soil." 

Mushrooms "rapidly inflate with water, which they must absorb from their surroundings—the reason why mushrooms tend to appear after rain. Mushroom growth can generate an explosive force. When a stinkhorn mushroom crunches through an asphalt road, it produces enough force to lift an object weighing 130 kilograms."

Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

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Steve Gilzow said...

This book looks as though it would be a good companion volume to the film, Fantastic Fungi. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

James Gurney said...

Steve, I haven't seen that film yet. Do you recommend it?

Steve Gilzow said...

Yes. The time-lapse photography by Louie Schwartzberg is remarkable.