Archive for the ‘hallucinogenic substances’ category

Do you know – Mushrooms?

11 October 2009

As a gesture of thanks to all the visitors  to the post “Mushrooms – by Sylvia Plath“, this ‘Do  You Know?’ has been placed.

Did you know that –

* the mental picture we have of a mushroom with cap, gills and stalk is typical only of the Agaricales, (an example being the store-bought White mushroom). The wide variety of shapes a mushroom can take can be understood from their names – polypores, puffballs, jelly fungi, coral fungi, bracket fungi, stinkhorns, and cup fungi.

Fungi such as this one is considered as a mushroom.

Polypore fungi such as this one are considered as mushrooms.

Unidentified mushroom growing on a decaying log in Calais, France

Unidentified filamentous mushroom growing on a decaying log in Calais, France

Woody bracket fungus - also considered a mushroom!

Ungulina marginata, a woody bracket fungus - also considered a mushroom!

Yellow Coral Mushroom

Yellow Coral Mushroom

* not all mushrooms are edible, the vast majority of these produce a vast array of toxins and allergens. You should only eat a commercially produced mushroom or a known edible mushroom reliably identified by an expert.

Shiitake - an edible Japanese mushroom whch was the subject of word play in an Austin Powells movie.

Shiitake - an edible Japanese mushroom whch was the subject of word play in an Austin Powells movie.

* many mushrooms produce secondary metabolites that render them toxic, mind-altering, or even bioluminescent.

Foxfire is the term for the bioluminescence created by a few species of fungi, such as 'Omphaltos nidiformes' that decay wood.

Foxfire is the term for the bioluminescence created by a few species of fungi, such as Ghost Mushroom 'Omphaltos nidiformes' that decay wood.

Panellus stipticus, a green bioluminescent bracket fungus.

Panellus stipticus, a green bioluminescent bracket fungus.

* the term ‘toad-stool’ was used in earlier times for poisonous mushrooms.

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) is the quintessential mushroom of British folklore.

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) is the quintessential toadstool of British folklore.

The Death-cap (amanita phalloides) contains amatoxins which are toxi to the liver. It resembles several common edible mushrooms and thus features in many accidental poisoning cases.

The Death-cap (Amanita phalloides) contains amatoxins which are toxic to the liver. It resembles several common edible mushrooms and thus features in many accidental poisoning cases.

* though mushrooms are commonly thought to have little nutritional value, many species have nutritional or medicinal value. Many mushrooms are high in fiber and provide vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, cobalamines, ascorbic acid. Mushrooms are also a source of some minerals, including selenium, potassium and phosphorus.

White or button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) ready for cooking. While common, they are just one of the many types of mushrooms cultivated and eaten.

White or button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) ready for cooking. While common, they are just one of the many types of mushrooms cultivated and eaten.

* some mushrooms, if exposed to UV light can become valuable sources of Vitamin D.

* poisonous mushrooms containing hallucinogenic substances are eaten by some people in order to get a ‘high’!

Dried psilocybe mushrooms contain hallucinogenic substances such as Psilocin and Psilobycin and were known to the Aztecs as 'divine mushrooms'. (Notice the characteristic blue bruising by the end of the stems.)

Dried psilocybe mushrooms contain hallucinogenic substances such as Psilocin and Psilobycin and were known to the Aztecs as 'divine mushrooms'. (Notice the characteristic blue bruising by the end of the stems.)

* oyster mushrooms, a widely eaten mushroom,  naturally contain the cholesterol drug lovastatin.

The Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is the subject of many medical research initiatives.

The Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is the subject of many medical research initiatives.

* that a large number of valuable drugs such as penicillin, lovastatin, ciclosporin, griseofulvin, cephalosporin, and ergometrine, have been isolated from the fungi kingdom.

Collection of medicinal mushrooms including Enoki, King Oyster mushrooms, and Shiitake.

Collection of medicinal mushrooms including Enoki, King Oyster mushrooms, and Shiitake.

* that in Tolkien‘s trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” the favourite food of hobbits is mushrooms.

A Hobbit - an image by Andre DeWitt

A Hobbit - an image by Andrew DeWitt

Credits –

* All mushrooms – Wikimedia Commons. Original filenames have not been changed for all the photos.

* A Hobbit – Andrew DeWitt, drew this picture at ehow.com to show us how to draw a hobbit! Used non commercially here under ‘fair use’.

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