You want to learn more about the different fungi that exist in nature and how to recognize and identify them correctly? Then take a look at our fungi knowledge below, which we have collected for you. There are many websites and books that deal with mushrooms. We have linked some of them for you.
Suitable for age group: children from 6 years in company of adults
Especially interesting for: families, friends of fungi and explorers
Duration: at least one hour should be scheduled
Step 1: Discover mushrooms
Find a near park or forest area. Don´t worry, you will find some mushrooms in an urban environment, too. And now let us explore!
Mushrooms can be on the ground but are also found on trees and deadwood.
Step 2: Success in finding a mushroom
Take a picture of your discovery and take a close look. Fill in the fact sheet and learn in this way something about your fungus.
When your mushroom is fitting a criterion on the Bingo, you can scratch through the field. One mushroom can fulfil several criteria. Can you get one full row?
Attention: Please leave the mushroom alone and there where it is. There are many poisonous mushrooms and for a correct identification it needs a lot of experience.
Once you find a mushroom, similar ones are usually not far away!
Did you notice there are two words we are using: Fungi and mushrooms? What you are seeing is just the mushroom but the organism itself is a lot larger than the mushroom. When we talk about the whole living being, we call it fungus. That is the reason a group of mushrooms is most likely just one and the same living being.
You will recognize that it gets easier and easier for you to discover mushrooms! But don´t be disappointed if you find non or just a few. Try it again at another place or another day!
Step 3: Favorite mushroom and interpretation
This part is better for doing it at home.
You have a favorite mushroom among your discoveries? Try to identify it with the help of a mushroom identification book or by doing research on the internet. For sure your pictures and fact sheets will help you with it.
If you want, you can share your pictures with us by tagging BIOTOPIA when posting it on a social media platform.
Use the hashtag #BIOTOPIALab, so we can find it easier.
We prepared some research questions for you:
The place where you find a mushroom can tell you something about its feeding strategy. There are three different ways a mushroom can get food:
First, some fungi grow on dead tree trunks because they decompose the wood and feed on it. This type of fungi is called decomposers. In this group of fungi not only dead wood is used as food. Depending on the species, other dead organic materials such as leaves or dead bodies are also decomposed.
Other fungi grow near trees because they live in a partnership with them. Such a relationship is also called symbiosis. The fungus helps the tree to absorb nutrients and water from the soil. In return, the tree delivers sugar to the fungus. This special form of symbiosis between plants and fungi is also called mycorrhiza.
Finally, fungi can also grow on trees that are still alive. There, they also feed on the tree's sugar but do not give anything back in return. It is therefore a parasite for the tree. Such fungi are often found on weakened trees.
The mushroom (or more specific: the fruiting body) is actually only a small part of the whole fungus. The fungus needs the fruiting body to reproduce and spread. In this fruiting body, you can find the spores. The fungus needs them to reproduce. You can compare this with seeds in plants. Because the fruiting body is usually above the surface, the spores can travel far by, for example, being blown away by the wind. By that, the fungus can reach new areas. In comparison, spores cannot travel that far if the spores are released under the earth.
You can find the spores of the mushrooms between the thin membranes of the lamellae. They are well protected by the cap of the mushroom. Scientists use spore prints to identify which species of fungus they have found. The cap is placed on a piece of paper so that the spores cann fall down to the paper. The resulting pattern is typical for the respective fungus.
In the fruiting body of these mushrooms, you can find a chamber that is filled with spores. Ascomycetes or sac fungi form this type of fruiting body. It is also called a perithecium. Here, the spores are released through a small hole in the chamber.
This part of the fungus is called mycelium. The fungus forms a fine network of thin threads in the underground or in tree trunks. This is the actual fungus, which absorbs water and nutrients. Additionally, it can communicate with other living organisms with the help of messenger substances. A single thread is called a hypha. These hyphae are very thin so, you can only see them with the help of a microscope. All hyphae together are called mycelium. In the mycelium, hyphae are so dense that you can see them with your naked eye.
And now get out
We hope you enjoyed the safari. If you want to learn even more, then we have a few recommendations for you!
These internet pages are helpful for determining mushrooms, but keep in mind that mushrooms can vary regionally.
Another reason why it takes a lot of experience for identifying mushrooms correctly.
In our video series you can dive deeper into the topic of fungi: fungi experts have their say here, we offer insights behind the scenes, additional information about the exhibition objects and great ideas and experiments! [with English subtitles]
Here you can find a lot of information about mushrooms! An innovative element of the work is the newly designed identification wheels to fungal genera.
From the fungi we see on supermarket shelves to fungi like penicillium that have shaped human history, this is the definitive introduction to what fungi are and just how vital they are to the world's ecosystem. Created in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
© Templar Publishing, 2020
Viewed in over 100 countries and selling hundreds of thousands of tickets on the way to finishing 2019 with a rare 100% Tomato meter rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Schwartzberg’s documentary Fantastic Fungi has brought the mycological revolution to the world stage. This is the film’s official companion book, that expands on the documentary’s message: that mushrooms and fungi will change your life– and save the planet.
© Earth Aware Editions, 2020
Created by our Lab Pilots Alice, Amelie and Monika
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