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Mushrooms – diverse life forms between animals and plants

The mushroom season has begun - in September and October you have the best chance of being successful in your mushroom hunt. However, caution and expert knowledge are required. But what are mushrooms actually?

Mushroom season has begun - in September and October you have the best chance of being successful in your mushroom hunt. However, caution and expert knowledge are required. But what are mushrooms actually? – Reading time: 4 minutes


We know all about mushrooms – right? If asked, most people would probably say without hesitation that their edible mushrooms are a type of vegetable. Things get trickier when it comes to baker's yeast, because it is also a fungus. But what are mushrooms actually?

A kingdom of your own

The extremely versatile “Fungi” are neither plants nor animals, but form a third group. Like plants, they are stationary, but since they are not able to “feed” themselves through photosynthesis, they enjoy organic substances. That’s right, “eating” mushrooms, if you will – with the help of enzymes.

The species-rich living creatures are closer to animals - and therefore also to us - than to plants, but they have still not been sufficiently researched. Of the estimated 5 million fungal species, around 100,000 have been described in more detail. The well-known mushrooms include stander mushrooms, including our edible mushrooms, but also protozoa, of which baker's yeast is one.

The actual fungus lives underground

If we talk about mushrooms when it comes to what ends up on the plate, we are actually not right - because the so-called mushrooms are just fruiting bodies. The fungus is the so-called mycelium, a network of fine threads in the ground. If the conditions are favorable, the mycelium sprouts the above-ground umbrellas that taste so good to us. To do this, a warm period must be followed by enough rainfall to ensure the fruiting body is ripe until the spores are released. Most fungi reproduce asexually, even if a genus is more advanced and has germ cells.


The mycorrhiza: symbiosis with fungi

In nature, the diverse inhabitants of the fungi kingdom have an extremely important function. They often live in symbiosis with other plants, especially trees. Both partners benefit from this coexistence. As a mycorrhiza, the fungus surrounds the plant roots with the mycelium threads, thereby increasing their surface area and supporting the host plant in absorbing water and nutrients. The fungus also protects the tree underground from diseases. Trees are appreciative of this: they share the carbohydrates produced during photosynthesis with the fungus. The symbiosis is only limited to certain cooperating species in a few cases - both the tree and the fungus can be active in a variety of ways, and the network of mycelium often connects numerous trees with each other underground. A social network, similar to social media.

For fungi this means: If the forest suffers, this form of life is also threatened. Mushrooms and trees together say goodbye to a stressed ecosystem. Only by returning to natural forest management and consistent climate and nature protection can the biodiversity of forests be preserved.

Identify and collect mushrooms yourself

The fruiting bodies of mushrooms in the forest include numerous popular edible mushrooms - but also highly poisonous species. If you don't know your way around, you can easily get confused. The bright red fly agaric is well known, but other species can also have dire consequences if consumed. Mushroom experts recommend that beginners initially only collect boletus mushrooms, because lamellar mushrooms are easily confused - poisoning is often the result if a death cap mushroom is mistaken for a meadow mushroom. If in doubt, the nearest mushroom testing center is the appropriate place to inspect the prey.


If you don't go mushrooming, you can get good quality edible mushrooms on the market. These include the delicate porcini mushrooms, the bright yellow chanterelles, and in autumn also the truffles that grow underground, whose intense aroma transforms even plain pasta or scrambled eggs into a delicacy. Fresh mushrooms also offer taste experiences that leave any canned food far behind.

No matter which mushroom you choose: it should be fresh. Mushroom poisoning occurs primarily from completely normal edible mushrooms that are simply too old and spoiled. The protein in the fruit body breaks down faster than animal proteins, and what looks good on the outside is already rotting on the inside. Fresh mushrooms should be crunchy and fragrant. Then you can access it without any worries.

Mushrooms are worth protecting!

Although we at NIKIN are primarily concerned with sustainable materials in the fashion industry and fight against global deforestation, it is important to think sustainably in other areas of life too. We want to motivate people to rethink their lifestyle and possibly make it more sustainable.


In our blogs we not only talk about the topics mentioned above, but also about various other interesting aspects of nature - such as the world of fungi and their special relationship with trees.

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1 Comment

Vorsicht ich habe im fernsehen gesehen zuchtchampingongs werden gestresst damit sie besser wachsen.

Nicht kaufen!

Joachim Sommerfeld

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