Most everyone loves us. Some are a very popular food in haute cuisine. Mushrooms, these mushrooms with trunk and cap, are one of these foods found in the cuisine of many countries.
But beware! not everything can be eaten. Not all the mushrooms that we find in the field are as edible as a mushroom or a rovelló. Some are life threatening, while others can cause hallucinations and psychotropic effects.
There are several types of fungi that can be found taking into account their consequences on physical and mental health., and here we’ll go through them both to learn more about them and to be on the safe side as there aren’t a few mushrooms that appear to be edible and are particularly dangerous.
Characteristics of mushrooms
Mushrooms form their own kingdom in life. They are both unicellular organisms, as is the case with yeast, and multicellular, as is the case with the fungi found in a risotto. The main reason they create their own kingdom is that their metabolism is halfway between that of plants and animals, although with certain characteristics that make them unique.
It is indeed thanks to its individuals that in 1969 they “became independent” of the vegetable kingdom, being henceforth considered as a kingdom apart.
What led them to be considered a separate life form from the plant was that they were found to not be able to photosynthesize, but to feed heterotrophically., i.e. they cannot produce their own organic matter but have to prepare it, as in the case of animals (eating grass or hunting other animals), only what happens is which absorbs organic matter.
Its mode of reproduction is the release of spores, and in his realm there are many species, a real very diverse realm. Some 43,000 different species of fungi have been discovered, although it is estimated that there may be over 600,000, meaning that little is known about the fungal kingdom.
Of all the groups that compose them, it is the basidiomycetes that hold our attention the most, those that in our popular language we call fungi, are multicellular and have a great interest for man. Below we will see how they are categorized.
The main types of mushrooms
Basidiomycetes are considered to be the most evolved division of the fungal kingdom. More than 25,000 different species have now been identified, many of which are of gastronomic interest to humans, while others have toxic properties, both lethal and neuroleptic. Delicious like the white truffle, dangerous like the bottle of Satan and psychoactive like the mushroom of Saint John, we will then classify the mushrooms according to three categories and name the most famous of each one.
The main use of mushrooms is gastronomy. Many basidiomycetes are edible, with fruiting bodies that hide flavors and textures that only they offer. That’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that some of the more expensive foods are edible mushrooms. Among the most famous edible mushrooms are the following.
The fungus is probably the first edible mushroom that comes to mind, being one of the most consumed basidiomycetes in the world. Specifically Agaricus bisporus is the most popular, cultivated and typical species that can be found in any supermarket.
There are varieties of mushrooms, another well-known of the wild mushroom (Agaricus campestris) which, although edible, is not recommended to be picked up near roads, as they accumulate heavy metals and can also be mistaken for species toxic.
There are many different strain species, Boletus edulis being the best known.
This mushroom, whose name literally means “edible”, is very popular in cooking for its slightly sweet taste and its characteristic consistency.
The nightingale (Cantharellus cibarius) is a very typical mushroom in some Spanish regions, and of course it also receives various names depending on the autonomy such as nightingale, anacat, chantarela, cantarella, zizahori …
Usually found in summer and fall, although to harvest them you have to be careful because a similar species exists, called false nightingale (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca).
Scientifically named Lactarius deliciosus, this mushroom is one of the most popular in cooking. In Spanish it is called rovelló, although it receives different names in all parts of Spain.
In Catalonia it is called rovelló, being very typical of this autonomous community, although it is also present in Balearic cuisine under the name of esclata-sang. It is also called pinatell because it is found in autumn and early winter in pine forests.
5. Black truffle
Black truffles (Tuber melanosporum) are mushrooms that only grow under very specific and particular conditions, so much so that it is not possible to cultivate them. reason why its market price is exorbitant.
Its rarity, combined with its exquisite aroma, make it a luxury. One gram of black truffle, one gram, can cost $ 1.80, or what comes to the same thing, a kilo of this peculiar mushroom can cost $ 1,800.
6. White truffle
The white truffle is an even greater luxury than its black companion. Scientifically named Tuber magnatum, these mushrooms are underground and only grow in certain regions of Italy, the lands of the Eastern Adriatic and the South of France, which makes them even more exclusive. Its price is even more exorbitant, costing more than $ 5,000 per kilo.
The ear (Amanita caesarea) is considered by many to be one of the tastiest mushrooms. This basidiomycete is found in summer and autumn in oak forests, although its collection should be done with care, as it can be mistaken for a poisonous fungus of similar appearance called, of course, false ear (Amanita muscaria).
8. Ear of Judas
Judas’s Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) it is called that because it usually grows on the bark of old willows, the same type of tree that Judas would have hung on., the apostle who betrayed Jesus. It is a basidiomycete with gelatinous and elastic flesh, also very appreciated in the gastronomic world.
9. Thistle arrow
Scientific name Pleurotus eryngii, thistle fungus appears in late summer. Although its name is not exactly very appealing, that did not prevent it from being highly sought after in gastronomy for its mild aroma, sweet taste and chewy meat.
10. Trumpet of Death
What a fungus is called the death trumpet (Craterellus cornucopioides) may scare us, at first thinking that it is a poisonous basidiomycete, but oddly enough it is another of the most popular mushrooms in cooking. Its aroma is similar to that of a truffle, although it does not take long to spoil. and for this reason, it is customary to keep them dry.
Macrolepiota procera is an edible fungus called parasol because of its special shape. It can reach 40cm in height and the hat is about 30cm in diameter. The taste and smell are very pleasant.
12. Saint-Georges mushroom
Saint-Georges mushroom (Calocybe gambosa) it has a consistent flesh and a sweet taste, properties that make it an excellent ingredient for cooking. Although edible, its collection is recommended under the supervision of experts, as it can be confused with some poisonous amanita.
13. Reddish Amanita
Red amanita (Amanita rubescens) is a popular culinary mushroom, although its consumption is a little risky. The reason we have it is a pawn, and therefore it’s toxic, but only raw. If properly cooked, it completely loses its toxicity.
Some species of basidiomycetes have evolved to develop the ability to produce mycotoxins and thus prevent predation.. These substances, when ingested by an animal, cause serious systemic damage which can be fatal. Some examples of many venous fungi are the ones we will see below.
14. Phalloid Amanita
Amanita phalloides, also known as the green ear, it is the most poisonous mushroom in the world. Proof of this is that it is attributed to more than 90% of poisoning cases from consumption of poisonous mushrooms, as it can be easily confused with certain species of mushroom.
Mycotoxins are so potent that they are not eliminated by cooking and only 30 grams of this fungus can cause the death of an adult due to liver and kidney failure.
15. Amanita pantherina
Another very poisonous mushroom is Amanita pantherina. Just between 1 and 3 hours after ingestion, a disturbing picture begins: delusions, hallucinations, loss of muscle control, aggressiveness … so many symptoms which are the prelude to what will follow. 12 then spasms, convulsions appear, and he even falls into a coma.
16. Marginalized gallery
La Marerina marginata it has toxins known as amatoxins, which interfere with the functions of our cells and ultimately cause death from kidney failure.
17. Amanita muscaria
Amanita muscaria it is the poisonous mushroom best known not for its effects, but rather for its appearance. It has the colors of a prototype mushroom, which is ironic that it is a poisonous basidiomycete. Its mycotoxins have neurological and gastrointestinal effects, causing severe diarrhea and intestinal pain, as well as coma.
18. Fatal leprosy
Scientifically named Lepiota brunneoincarnata, this fungus warns us by its vulgar name. Its ingestion is fatal, as it can cause hepatic error.. To differentiate it from edible lepots, it is that it has a cap less than 8 cm in diameter.
19. Mountain curtain
The mountain cortinarius (Cortinarius orellanus) is a deadly fungus, being of those who cause more deaths. The clinical picture after ingestion is vomiting, nausea and diarrhea after a short time. After 15 days of intense headaches, muscle pain, weight loss and finally kidney failure which leads to death begins.
20. Satan’s Bill
In the edible mushroom section, we saw some with names that were unattractive but could still be eaten. This is not the case with Satan’s bullet (Boletus satanas). We don’t want this fungus on our plate because if we eat it, although it is not fatal, it would provoke us severe gastrointestinal problems accompanied by vomiting.
It is a fairly rare mushroom, but confused with certain species of edible mushrooms.
21. Entoloma sinuatum
Entoloma sinuatum is another fungus that causes a lot of poisoning because it is easy to confuse with other species that can be eaten. Symptoms associated with ingestion include severe diarrhea, vomiting, and redness of areas of the skin..
22. White clitocybe
Although this fungus is not fatal, consuming Clitocybe dealbata causes vomiting, diarrhea, fever, heavy sweating and chills. Its main problem is that it can be mistaken for an edible species.
23. Fake rovello
Lactarius torminosus, colloquially called false rovelló, has the peculiarity that, as its name suggests it is easily confused with a real rovellón. Eating one isn’t fatal, but it does cause troublesome gastrointestinal effects.
Hallucinogenic fungi are a group of fungi that they have traditionally been used for recreational purposes. Since time immemorial, they have been used as a ritual element in many religions and even for therapeutic purposes. While poisonous mushrooms produce mycotoxins, psychoactive mushrooms produce psilocybin, a chemical that, when ingested, causes hallucinogenic effects.
Many of the following mushrooms that we will see are classified as psilocybin, then they contain psilocybin which, when consumed, has neuroleptic effects. Its consumption is not recommended at all and, in fact, in many countries its own cultivation and consumption is prohibited. Its sale is illegal for almost everyone.
24. Psilocybe mexicana
The Mexican psilocybe grows, as the name suggests, in Mexico, although it is also found in Costa Rica and Guatemala. It has been described as a hallucinogen for just over 60 years, but has been used in rituals by Native Americans for 2,000 years. Aztec culture was called the “flesh of the gods”.
25. Psilocybe semilanceata
Psilocybe semilanceata is commonly known as St. John’s Wort. It causes very intense hallucinations which can last up to 6 hours and induce paranoia. This can lead to self-harm by the person who ingests it, meaning it should never be consumed on its own.
26. Psilocybe azurescens
Psilocybe azurescens is one of the most potent hallucinogenic mushrooms, being this mushroom the one that contains the highest amounts of psilocybin. It contains so much of this substance that 2% of the composition is psilocybin, while in other mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe the amounts are usually around 0.003%.
27. Psilocybe cubensis
Psilocybe cubensis is a fungus found in Central and South America, India and parts of Oceania. It is one of the most famous magic mushrooms, and even if only one gram is consumed, it already causes powerful effects.
Eating this amount of this mushroom will cause hallucinogenic effects that last for four to six hours and can lead to perception disturbances, injuries, and gastrointestinal problems.
28. Psilocybe cyanescens
Psilocybe cyanescens is a fungus discovered in the 1940s in a UK botanical garden. This type of psilocybe can grow in urban areas, developing on wood chips.
29. Pluteus salicinus
Pluteus salicinus is a fungus which it does not produce psilocybin, but it does have hallucinogenic effects. It grows in the forests of Europe and the United States and contains psychotropic substances that cause hallucinations.
30. Claviceps purpurea
Claviceps purpurea is a special fungus. It is not a hallucinogenic mushroom per se, but it is credited with certain psychoactive properties. It is a parasitic fungus of cereals and herbs from which lysergic acid diethylamide, the full name of what is called LSD, is extracted.
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