A mushroom is really just the fruit of a giant mycorrhizal (probably perennial) organism that lives underground. I learned that in a mushroom class I took over the weekend. I kinda knew this tidbit of information, but mostly I didn’t – at least not stated quite like that.
And do you know why mushrooms can grow so quickly? It is because they don’t grow by cell division (like most everything else on the planet). They are like balloons where a bunch of mycorrhiza line up in whatever formation that they do and then they blow up – like filling a water balloon. This is how they just appear overnight.
Lately, I am fascinated with all things going on underground. It started when Bernadette Giblin wrote The Tao of Terrior (part 1) for the Summer issue of PITH + VIGOR and it continued and intensified when I researched and wrote The Tao of Terrior (part 2) for the Autumn issue.
The idea behind the two pieces was to introduce some of the people who are talking about the soil and its impact on terrior – as related to everything we can grow (other than wine) and then try to link together all the different pieces of this hidden world. This underground ecosystem is complex and fascinating and not one that we know as much about (at least when you compare it to our knowledge of what is going in above ground).
So it isn’t completely surprising that these mushroom facts were new to me – even though I just wrote this whole piece and maybe should have already known them.
I’m curious, do you think of mushrooms as the water-balloon fruits of a giant underground living thing? Or did I just tell you something new?
illustration for these two pieces by Samantha Dion Baker.