Mushrooms in Human Life
Booklet No. 439
Mushroom Cultivation: MCS - 2
II. Morphology of Mushrooms
III. Life Cycle of Mushrooms
IV. Occurrence in Nature
V. Advantages of Mushrooms
VI. Poisonous and Edible Mushrooms
VII. Uses of Mushrooms
Mushroom cultivation is not easy because it requires some technical expertise to make
the crop a success. This booklet gives information about these aspects of the mushroom.
However, along with the technical expertise certain general ideas on mushrooms such as
morphology, life cycle, occurrence in nature, different types of mushrooms, advantages and
uses of mushrooms will be of great help to the mushrooms grower.
Dr. K. T. Chandy, Agricultural & Environmental Education
All mushrooms belong to the group of fungi, which are very distinct from plants, animals
and bacteria. Most fungi have plant-like cells but miss the most important feature of plant: the
presence of chlorophyll and ability to use energy from the sun directly. Thus fungi depend on
other organisms for food as does mankind and infact all animals.
There are different views in regard to the origin of the term "mushroom". In Latin "funo"
means to flourish. It was a term which was used to refer to mushroom and to excrescences from
the ground or from trees. In Greek the term "mushroom" was derived from the word
"sphongoos" or "sphoggos" which meant "sponge" and referred to the sponge-like structure of
some of the species. The word mushroom is usually thought to be derived from the french
"mousseron" is a barbarous name which has caused endless confussion, other versions are
muscheron and "mouscheron" and from these, the country name of "mushroom" originated.
The earliest word in sanskrit for mushroom appears to be ksumpa. Now it is commonally
known as Khumbi. The word chatra is a later one which is given to the fleshy capped fungi,
other words are Kukurmutta, karata, bhoomi kauvak and bhustra.
II. Morphology of Mushrooms
All fungi, with the exception of yeasts, form hyphae (tiny threads) that originate from the
spores (seeds of mushroom).
These hphae will branch out and form the mycelliwn (several hyphae together). After
some time they will enter a sexual phase and form spores. The larger spore-producing
structures (bigger than one mm) are called mushrooms. In nature this is the most striking part of
the fungal organism; but in fact it is just the fruiting body; commercially and in common
language it is known as mushroom.
The fruit bodies begin as a tiny knob of tissue arising from underground myceliun. It
grows into a button can be seen in .Fig 1.
If a longitudinal section of the
button is taken at this stage, the cap (pileus) and stem (stipe) can be seen. In many
mushrooms, a veil of protective tissue known as peridium surrounds the young button. In many
mushrooms the cap opens into the form of an umbrella. On the top of the place where the stem
is fixed to the umbrella like structure there is a projection comparatively harder than the other
portions of the mushroom. This is known as the umbo. When the button expands, the veil is
forced to tear under the strain and is found clinging to the cap as white wooly fragments or
warts. At the base of the stem it appears like a cup known as the volva. On the lower surface of
the cap, radiating structures known as the gills or lamellae can be seen in Fig.2.
The gills in turn are protected by a second veil, which stretches from the edge of the cap
inwards to the stem and is left hanging from the stem as a ring. This is called annulus. The gills
vary from species to species. The way in which the gills approach the stem and join on to it also
varies. The texture of fruit body differs greatly so that they can be smooth, rough, velvety, hairy
etc. The variations in shape, colour, size & alignment in different parts etc. varies among the
The gill consists of a membranous structure called hymenium on which hairy structures
called basidium are present. The hymenium, which bears the spores or the seeds of mushroom,
also vary in shape, size and colour. The spores are microscopic and the number of spores
produced by a single mushroom varies. (About 16 million per hour). The study of spores, their
shape, colour, ornamentation etc. is an important aspect in the identification of various types of
The basidium, which is a club shaped structure and the variations in its structure are
studied for further division of the group. The basidia (plural) bearing hymenium may be present
on either side of the gills as in the gill fungi. It may also be present as the lining of the numerous
pores in the fruiting body of some fungi like the Bobtus or on the covering layer of teeth like
structures as in hydnum. The ball like structure at the end of the basidia are known as
hycoperdon is closed pouch like structure in which spores are formed and opens by an apical
pore at maturity.
III. Life-cycle of Mushrooms
In nature, fungi multiply by producing millions and milliom of spores. When they land in a
suitable environment, they can germinate and branch to form a mycelium. In due time the
mycelium will colonise the substrate and use the available nutrient. When. some nutrients run
out or when the weather changes the mycelium will reach the reproductive sexual stage.
In cultivating mushrooms spores are not used. The small size makes it difficult to handle
them. Also the genetic characteristics are a little different from that of their parent. It takes some
time for the spores to germinate as well, so some of the mycelium is pre-grown under sterile
conditions. This material is referred to as spawn. The mycelium for this spawn can be taken
from a mushroom or can be obtained from specialized laboratories. The use of spawn will give
the cultivated mushroom an advantage in growth. The mycelium will then colonise the substrate
within a period of time. This is commonly referred to as spawn run time. For most species a
temperature of about 25°C is optimal for their spawn run.
Furthermore, the environment can support the growth of the desired mycelium, a high
carbon dioxide concentration is favourable for mycelial growth, but not for fruiting (mushroom
After having colonized the substrate, the mycelium is capable of producing fruit bodies
which appear in the form of mushrooms. The number and quality of the fruiting bodies
(mushrooms) are dependant of the environment Key factors in the induction of fruit bodies are:
changing temperature, high humidity, deficiency of a nutrients, carbon dioxide concentration in
the air, light and physical shock.
A shift from a nutrient rich to a nutrient poor medium will also stimulate fruiting. These
factors differ from species to species. Most of the changes to stimulate fruiting have a negative
effect on the mycelium. They should therefore only be applied when mycelium has fully grown
the substrate. It is actually the less favourable condition that will stimulate the mycelium to fruit.
Some examples to illustrate the manipulation of key factors in order to induce fruiting are
1. Some oyster mushrooms (for example Pleurotus ostreatus strains) will fruit reliably when they
receive a cold shock (a difference of 5°C to 10°C) after mycelial growth. CO2 concentration has
to be lowered as well. Mycelial growth can take place in the dark.
2. the common white button mushrooms need a nutrient poor casing soil on top of the nutrient
rich compost. In addition, the temperature and the CO2 concentration are lowered and watering
3. full grown logs with shiitake mycelium are soaked in water for one or two days to receive a
physical shock to stimulate fruiting. The shock will remove captured CO2.
IV. Occurrence in Nature
Mushrooms depend on other organisms for their food. Three modes of dependency can
be recognized. They are (1) Saprophytes (living on degraded material) (2) Parasites (living at
the expense of other organisms) and Symbionts (living together with other organisms in a close
Most of the fungi (mushrooms) discussed belong to the saprophytes. These need
organic matter to decompose. In nature they will grow on fallen leaves, animal droppings, and
stumps of dead wood. Some are specialized in breaking down the hairs of mammals, while
others may decompose birds feathers. It is their role in nature to decompose the complex
organic structure left behind by plants and animals. Then plants or even animals have easy
access to minerals and other nutrients present in the substrate. After having decomposed their
specific substrate, the spent compost can be applied as a manure to the soil.
Parasites live at the expense of living organisms. The much appreciated honey
mushroom is a very common parasite on many kinds of trees. It is therefore unsuitable for
cultivation because trees in the vicinity of the farm would also be affected.
The group of symbionts is very important for other agricultural processes. The roots of
most plants are covered with a sheath of mycelium of some kind of fungus. The mycelium will
deliver water and salts in an efficient way to the plants and will receive easily accessible
nutrients (sugars) in return. The mycelium also protects the plant in some ways. It produces
antibiotics. The mycelial sheath functions as a shield against other (possibly harmful) fungi, and
by lowering the sugar content in the roots it makes the plant less susceptible to pathogens. It
has proved to be very difficult to cultivate these mycorrhizal mushrooms, although some of
these species are much appreciated in cuisine and high prices are paid for them. Fruiting of
mycorrhizal fungi requires a very delicate balance in nutrients and environment. It is only for the
most expensive , mushrooms that a seminatural cultivation is followed. Young trees are
inoculated with mycelium and planted at suitable sites. However, it is not yet used commercially.
V. Advantages of Mushroom Cultivation
Unlike those mushroom gathered from nature, their artificial cultivation ensures that
mushrooms sold are truly edible. Dispelling prejudice, which for centuries has been associated
with mushrooms, has helped to increase consumption; they are now regarded as useful foods in
modem diets, complementing the staple diet. They are often prescribed by dieticians to counter
obesity and other syndromes associated with present day eating habits. Beside, these
mushroom have following advantages:
1. Mushroom cultivation is a labour intensive industry; therefore, it will open new avenues of
2. It is an alternative source of food, rich in protein, minerals and essential amino acids apart
from being a delicacy in food.
3. It will provide additional income to our farmers who wish to take up this work during the lean
period of their farming activity.
4. Mushroom technology is based on utilization of agricultural wastes like wheat/paddy straw.
From three kg of dry wheat straw we can produce one kg of fresh mushrooms.
5. We can build mushroom farms on waste or uncultivable lands.
6. As mushroom cultivation is done indoors in trays and is protected from rigours of nature, we
can produce much larger quantity of assured food from a much smaller area, especially when
there is already a very heavy pressure on the land resources allover the world for food
7. If we are able to produce mushrooms cheaply, it will earn for the country the much needed
VI. Poisonous and Edible Mushrooms
A question often asked. to is "How can one distinguish a poisonous mushroom?" The
fungi are actually mysterious objects for most people and therefore people expect some quick
ways to distinguish good mushrooms from the bad ones. There are no quick and ready made
ways. Simply eat the species you know and avoid all the others is the only answer to this
problem. Just as one learns to identify different kinds of edible fruits and to avoid the non-edible
ones, so can one learn to identify the edibles species of mushrooms. Unrecognized species
should not be eaten. One should proceed cautiously when trying any species for the first time.
The genus Amanita contain many deadly species of mushrooms and therefore any member of
this genus must be avoided.
A. Identification of some common edible mushrooms
Identification of edible mush rooms is very important as there exists poisnous
1. Agaricus arvensis or Psalliot arvensis
It is found in lawns, meadows, cultivated fields and in pastures etc., either solitary or
Pileus is smooth, white or yellowish, convex or conical, bell shaped.
Distribution: Calcutta, Baroda, Nagpur
2. Agaricus bisporus
Growing on manure heaps, in the soil, in gardens and green hosues. Pileus, convex
when young and flatted when old.
Whitish to light brown.
Distribution: Solan, Himachal Pradesh
3. Agaricus campestris or Pyalliota campestris
This is the widest known of all mushrooms. It is found in fields, pastures and in manured
ground. Pileus is globular when young, convex to flattened at maturity. Surface dry, downy,
even quite scaly. Varying in colour from creamy white to light brown.
Distribution: Punjab, Calcutta, West Bengal, Bihar, North Western Himalayas, Nagpur, Jammu.
4. Agrocybe praecox or Phliota praecox
It is found in open woods, lawns, pastures or on the ground either single or in groups.
Pileus, convex when young and expanded when old. It has whitish umbo (central
projection) or yellowish at first, later changes to yellowish brown. Margin slightly turned inside at
the young stage but later turns upward. Sometimes surface is uneven with many shallow pits.
Distribution : Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh
5. Amanita caesaria
This is the orange amanita. It is large and attractive. Pileus is smooth, hemispherical,
bell shaped, convex and at maturity it is flat and the margin slightly curved downwards, red or
orange, fading to yellow on the margin. Usually the large and well-developed specimen have a
deeper and richer colour, the colour being always more marked in the centre of the pileus. The
annulus yellow or orange hanging down upon the stern like a collar.
At button stage, the white-coloured volva surrounds the stipe, when the mushroom
matures, the volva ruptures and orange coloured pileus comes out.
Distribution: Baroda, Khasi hills, Assam.
6. Amanita vaginata or Amanitopsis vaginata
It is edible but should be used with great caution. It is quite variable in colour, ranging
from white to manse colour, brownish or yellowish.
The pileus in ovate at first, bell shaped, convex and expanded, thin, quite fragile, smooth
when young with a few fragments of volva adhering to its surface. Volva is long, thin, fragile,
forming a permanent sheath which is quite soft and readily adheres to the base of the stem.
It is found in woods, in open places when there is much vegetable mould, sometimes
found in stuble and pastures, especially in meadows under trees.
Distribution: Hills of U.P. Khasi hills, Assam, Solan and Nagpur.
7. Armillaria mella
It is found either solitary, prepgarious on in dense clusters. This grows either in thin
woods or in cleared lands, on the ground, on dead trees or at the base of the old trees stumps.
Cap flashy, honey coloured or ochraceous, striate on the margin, shared with darker
brown towards the centre. Sometimes a central depression is found in full grown specimens
tufted with dark brown fugitive hair. Colour of the cap varies depending upon climatic conditions
and the character of the habitat. The veil varies greatly. It may be membranous and thin, or
quite thick or may be wanting entirely.
Distribution: Baroda, Deoban, Jaunsar, Uttar Pradesh.
8. Bovista plumbea
The mushroom is quite small, grows on the ground, in old pastures, being quite plentiful
after warm rains. Sporophores grow in humiculous soil or in old pastures without anchoring
rhizoids and at maturity freeing from the substrate.
It is whitish, glabrous, when young, splitting irregularly into white granules and finally
falling off. Peridium (protective cover) lead coloured, papery, having small narrow mouth.
Distribution: Aryigath, Mussoorie, Sonamarg, Kashmir, Khadrala, Himachal Pradesh.
9. Calvatia cyathifonnis
The mushrooms of this type are growing in groups on soil, grassy land and sometimes
on the cultivated fields; sometimes solitary on sandy soil; white when young but turning into
brown with pinkish tinge at maturity; Peridium breaks into irregular fragments.
Distribution: Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Gurdaspur, Punjab.
10. Calvatia utriformis or C. caetata or C. bovista
Mushrooms are growing solitary or scattered on the ground, in meadows, pastures or
grassy lands, peridium large, avoid or top shaped, depressed above with a stout thick base and
cord like root; whitish at first, yellow or brown when old, surface covered with warty patches,
spines or cracks.
Distribution : Himachal Pradesh, Bashahr State, Babeh pass.
11. Cantharellus cibarius
These grows in woods and in rather open places; rich egg yellow in colour; the pileus is
fleshy, at first convex, later flat, depressed in the centre, finally funnel shaped, bright to deep
yellow, firm smooth but often irregular. Its margin often waxy, flash white, the cap has the
appearance of an inverted cone.
Distribution: West Bengal, Kashmir, Mussoorrie, Arnigadh, Himachal Pradesh.
12. Caprinus atramentarius
This grows very abundently in dense clusters on damp rich ground, gardens, rich lawns
and dumping grounds. The pileus is at first egg shaped, grey or greyish brown, first smooth
except that there is a slight scaly appearance; the margin ribbed, often notched, soft when it
melts away into inky fluid.
Distribution: Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir valley.
13. Coprinus comatus
These grow singly, scattered or in clusters on grassy land, in lawns, gardens, fields, on
roadside and on refuse dumps. The pileus is fleshy, moist, at first egg shaped, cylindrical,
becoming bell shaped, seldom expanded, splitting at the margin along the line of the grills,
scattered yellowish scales, tinged with purplish black, sometimes, entirely white, surface
shaggy. At maturity pileus become an inky fluid.
Distribution: West Bengal, Baroda, Punjab, U.P., Bombay, Kashmir valley and Nagpur
14. Coprinus micaceus
They grow usually in dense clumps or more or less scattered on ground, sometimes at
the base of the living trees or ground stumps, rarely on logs in woods. Pileus is ovate when
young, turning yellow, tan or light buff, ovate, bell shaped, glistening mica-like scales covering
undisturbed young specimen.
Distribution: Calcutta, Srinagar, Nagpur
15. Flammulina vulutipes or Colybia velutipes
These grow in clumps on dead wood, or on old stumps and in decaying wood either
erect or prostrate. Several fruit bodies emerge from the common rooting structure. Pileus
flattened, orange to tawny, surface glabrous, margin is rolled. The lower half of the stipe is
covered with dense reddish brown hair giving a velvety appearance, without annulus and volva.
Distribution: Calcutta, Darjeeling, Sikkim, Kulu, Punjab.
16. Heterobasidion annosum
Syn: Fornes annosus, Polyporus annosus, Polyporus
They grow solitary or imbricate (overlapping in sequence) on stumps and logs, among
coniferous trees or among hard wood. Pileus is sessile (no stem) often larger, greyish brown,
when young but dark brown when old, occasionally blackish, tough and corky when fresh, hard
Distribution: Deoban, Jaunsar, U.P., Shillong, Assam, Bedyar, Chakra, Kulu, Punjab,
Bashahr, Himachal Pradesh and Himalayn Region.
17. Himeola auricular judae
It looks like ears and is also known as the Jews' Ear. It is gelatinous, 1-4 inches across,
thin, concave, waxy, flexible when moist, hard when dry, blackish, fuzzy, hairy beneath. It grows
on dead wood and logs or on tree trunks.
Distribution: Calcutta, Sikkim, Himalayan Region, Khandala, Bombay, and Kashmir.
18. Hydnum sepandum or Deutinum sepandum
The usual colour of the cap is buff sometimes very pale, almost white. The colour and
smoothness of the cap have given the name of "doe skin mushroom". It is variable in size and
colour, growing solitary or in clusters. The cap is fleshy, brittle, convex or nearly plane, colour
varying from a pale buff to a distinct brick red, flesh creamy white, inclining to turn brown when
bruished taste, slightly aromatic, margin often waxy.
Distribution: Arnigath, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh.
19. Laccaria laceata or Clitocybe laceata
They usually grows singly, sometimes scattered in clumps on ground or on rotten wood,
infields, forests and other waste places.
Pileus is convex when young, expanded or flattened at maturity, sometimes funnel
shaped, salmon, or purple coloured when fresh, pale yellow when moist, light coloured when
dry, surface smooth or with minute scales, thin watery appearance..
Distribution: Arnigarh, Hills of U.P., Sikkim.
20. Lactipoms sulphureus
Syn : Polyporus sulphureus or Boletus sulphureus
It grows on decayed logs, on stumps and on decayed places, and on living trees. In
mature stage the growth of horizontal and spreading fan like from stem. Upper surface is
salmon, orange or orange red. Flesh cheesy, light yellow, the edge being smooth and unevenly
thickened with nodule-like prominence.
Distribution: Shillong, Assam, Sikkim, Kashmir, Bashahr, H.P. & U.P.
21. Leucocoprinus cepaestipes or Lepiota cepaestipes
They usually grow in partial fairy rings in soil, freshly manured ground or sometimes in
decomposed vegetable matter or in saw dust, on logs, rotten wood.
Fruiting body with powdery veil and collapsing at maturity. Pileus ovate when young,
later expanded or broadly conical with an umbo, usually white but umbo often appear brownish,
thin, surface dry .
Distribution: Calcutta, Baroda, U.P., Poona and Bombay.
22. Lycoperdon periatum or L. gemmatum
They are solitary, or scattered on the ground in open places or in forests, sometimes on
rotten wood, usually small. There are long, thick, erect spine or warts of irregular shape, with the
smaller ones in between, whitish or grey in colour, sometimes with a tinge of red brown colour.
First the larger spines fall away.
Distribution: North West Himalayas, Punjab, Jabalpur, Darjeeling, Sikkim.
23. Lycoperdon pyriformin
It grows in dense cluster. Puff balls are pear shaped. The surface is covered with minute
brownish scales or granules which are persistent. The body is first white, then greenish, yellow
and olivaceous. Puff balls are sessile or small stem is present, at the base there are mycelium
Distribution: Kulu, Kashmir, Sonamarg, Sikkim,
24. Macrolepiota mostaidea or Lepiota mastoidea
These grow in fields campanulate when young, then convex and later becoming umbonate,
white surface with greyish or brownish appressed scales.
Distribution: Calcutta, Hoogiy & Uttar Pradesh.
25. Macrolepiota procera or Lepiota procera
These are found in soil, pasture, lawns, woods and gardens. Pileus is thin, strongly
umbonate with brown spot-like scales. The stem is very long, cylindrical, hollow or stuffed, even
very long in proportion to its thickness.
The ring is thick and firm, at maturity it becomes loosened and movable on stem.
Distribution: West Bengal & Uttar Pradesh.
26. Morchella conica
They are found scattered on the ground in forests. Caps are yellow when young, darker
when old. It is conical in shape, cap pointed, depressions on the cap are arranged in rows
usually longer than broad, sometimes irregular. Ridges extend longitudinally and run parallel
from base to the top.
Distribution: Dehradun, Siwalik hills, Hiniachal Pradesh.
27. Morchella deliciosa
The cap of this is cylindrical with blunt top and the stipe is short and is hollow from top to
the bottom. It is found in wood borders, also in old apple and peach orchards. Pits usually
Distribution: Amritsar, Kashmir, Kumaon hills, The Himalayas, V.P., Himachal Pradesh.
28. Morchella esculenta
These usually grow solitary on the ground, under trees in open woods, grassy land, road
sides, clay soil, old apple and peach orchards. It has a cap little longer than broad, and is almost
oval in shape. Sometimes it is nearly round but again it is often slightly narrowed in its upper
half, but not pointed or cone like. Pits are irregularly arranged.
Distribution: Punjab, Kashmir, Chamba, Kumaon hills, the Himalayas, Himachal
29. Pleurotus Oabellatus
They grow on dead tree trunk or on ground; base is sponge like, fruit body short, fan
shaped, first pink and then white.
Distribution: Calcutta, Mysore.
30. Pleurotus ostreatus or P. salignus
This usually grows in clusters on dead tree trunks or branches, rarely on living trees.
Sporophores are compact white, grey or sometimes yellowish after drying, surface smooth,
margin incured, stipe short, sometimes hairy at the base.
Distribution: West Bengal, Baroda, Sonamarg, Kashmir and Jammu.
31. Pleurotus sajor caju or Lentinus sajor caju
They usually grow solitary or in groups on dead, decaying plants. It is oyster-shaped,
often lobed and folded at maturity giving a corollifloral appearance, white to grey or dull brown in
colour, surface smooth, margin irregular and incurred.
Distribution: South Andaman Island, Hoogly district of West Bengal, foothills of the
32. Podabrella microcarpa
Syn : Entoloma microcarpum or Termitomyces microcarpus
They are growing solitary, occuring in large numbers on termite nests or on soil, usually
small. Pileus is small with central acute umbo, flattened, pink at the margin and olive brown at
the umbo, surface smooth.
Distribution: West Bengal and Madras
33. Psathyrella hydrophilum
Syn Hypholorna appendiculata or P. candolleana
They are usually scattered or clustered on old tree stumps or logs and sometimes on
earth, very fragile, fruiting body not becoming a black fluid. Pileus usually appears white or
brown, pale when old, surface smooth or sometimes covered with numerous, white, delicate
scales, fleshy and thin, sometimes cracking irregularly or splitting into lobes when old.
Distribution: Baroda, Saharanpur and other parts of U.P.
34. Rigidoponls ulmarius
Syn Fornes geotropus or Polyporus geotropus
These are growing solitary imbricate on dead wood of confierous trees and sometimes
on hard wood, soft and fleshy, hard and woody when dry; body is whitish or buff when fresh,
Ochraceous on drying.
Distribution: Mundali, Chakrata, Uttar Pradesh and Western Himalayas.
35. Russula emitica
These are growing solitary or scattered on the ground in forests, in open places or on
rotten wood, fruiting body brittle when broken, lacking milk-like fluid. Pileus convex to
campanulate when young, then expanded, depressed when old, pink to red when young and
pale red with age, surface smooth and shining, slightly sticky when young, margin marked with
streaks, cuticle easily peeled off, taste uppleasand.
Distribution: Darjeeling, Kahsi hills, Assam.
37. Russula lepida
They are growing in mixed forests or in coniferous woods, usually smaller, fruiting body
brittle when broken, lacking milk-like fluid; Pileus convex at first, later becoming plain, bright red,
becoming pale with age, sometimes whitish near the centre, texture silky, surface not shining,
cracking when mature.
Distribution: Darjeeling, Kodaikanal of Tamil Nadu.
B. Optimum temperature for edible mushrooms
Currently many species of mushrooms are under commercial cultivation in different parts
of the world. The choice of species to each locality is determined by the climatic adaptability of
that particular species. The optimal temperature for growth and mushroom formation are given
Table 1:Optimal temperature for growth of cultivable species of edible mushroollas.
Sl.No Species Temperature (0oC) For
Optimal Mycelial Fruit body
1 Agaricus bisporus 20-27 10-20
2 Auricularia spp. 20-35 20-30
3 Caprinus comatus 20-30 15-18
4 Flammulina velutipes 18-25 13-18
5 Lentinus edodes 20-30 12-20
6 Pholiota nameko 24-26 5-15
7 Pleurotus ostreatus 20-30 5-18
8 P. abalone 20-30 15-25
9 P. cornucopiae 20-30 15-25
10 P. flabellatus & P. florida 20-30 18-27
11 P. sajor-caju and P. sapidus 20-30 20-30
12 Tremella fuciformis 20-25 20-27
13 Volvariella volvacea 35-40 26-35
VII. Uses of Mushrooms
Mushrooms appeal to different people in different ways. They are object of beauty for
artists, and for medical people they are the possible source of new drugs. Architects have
constructed minerals, temples and cupola columns in its shape. Jewellers have made expensive
pieces on mushrooms designs. Designers have reproduced the mushroom design on fabrics.
Bulgaria has issued a series of nine stamps on mushrooms. The most luxurious feasts in
Roman used to be of those in which mushroom preparations were served.
Besides being an important food article mushrooms are variously exploited by man.
They are at the same time, also beneficial to the forest. The forestry mushrooms are nature's
most active agents in the disposal of the forest's waste material. There are few species of
mushrooms which attack the living trees whereas a large number of them grow on fallen timber,
bark, sap wood etc. The mycelium of mushroom grows in a few years and the complete
disintegration of the wood takes place. It gradually mixes with forest soil and provides food for
the living trees. The role of mushrooms in disposing of the fallen timber in forests and converting
dead trees and fallen leaves into available food is most important in maintaining an ecological
balance in the forests. Mushrooms, then, are to be given a very high rank among the natural
agencies which have contributed to the good of the world.
In addition to their fascination for the gourmet, mushrooms are also have several other
1. Tinder mushrooms
Polyporus fomentarius or "tinder mushroom" sometimes called "Genllan tinder" was
used in the manufacturing of tinder.
2. Tunbridge ware
When green oak is attacked by Chloroplenium aeruginosum, the tissues become stained with
green, giving a very pleasing effect. Wood so affected is used in the manufacturing of
"Tunbridge ware" and fancy work.
Polyporus nigricans when dried and pounded is an ingredient in snuff.
Polyporus bispidus which gives a brown dye is used for colouring silk, cotton and wool.
This is used by leather dresser's to give a fawn chestnut colur and by carpenters to give a
brown colour to furniture. P. sulphureus gives a yellow colour and Fomes ignitarius gives a
brown black colour. Many other mushrooms are also used for giving different colours.
5. Writing material
Inky cap mushroom Caprinus comatus is very deliquecsent and soon becomes black
liquid which can be used for writing purposes.
6. Mushrooms in Flower pots:
Shaped fruit bodies of Polyporus fomentarius and P. ignitarius are used for flower pots.
The tube portion is cut out and the hoofed portion is inverted and hanged. This serves as a
receptacle for the soil in which plants are grown.
The ability of organism to produce light in the dark is well-known in bacteria, plants and
animals. Many fungi are also luminescent and either the fruit body or mycelium or both may be
luminous, depending on the species. Fome anosus is a luminous fungus which grows in mines
and both mycelium and fruit bodies are luminous. Other light emitting species of mushroom are
gills of Pleurotus joponica, Boletus edulis, Collybia longipes etc. The luminosity is often so bright
that when brought near a printed page in the dark, words can be read.
It is said, “the effect of creating hallucination is not to enable you to remember back, but
rather to forget and to imagine you are otherwise than what you are”. The hallucinogenic
mushrooms are Amanita muscaria, several spp. of stropharia and Psilocube.
9. Medicinal use:
Lower fungi have yielded important medicines, like antibiotics from Penicillium (a
common contaminant in mushroom cultivation). Mushrooms are much less used. Most of the
medicinal extracts from mushrooms are polysaccharides. Although these differ in composition,
they have one thing in common. All of these extracts are strengtheners of the immune system,
with no or little side effects. A polysaccharide from Lentinus edodes, lentionin, is currently being
marketed in Japan with great success.
10. Food value of mushroom
Mushrooms have been treated as a special kind of food since earliest times. Chinese,
Japanese, Romans, Mexican, American and Indians used mushrooms on special occasions like
giving tribute to emperors, in religious ceremonies.
Nowdays, the migrations of many millions of people with different food habits has spread
the popularity of mushrooms.
Mushrooms are considered to be healthy food because of their relatively high and
qualitatively good protein content and, low fat content, vitamins and minerals. Furthermore,
several species have a definite effect on blood pressure, tumours and viruses, It is important to
break-up the cell walls during the preparations of the food and chew thoroughly, This will in
crease digestibility, Table. 2 provides the comparison of the average nutritive value of the
Table 2: Approximate analysis of edible mushrooms in percentage on fresh weight basis
Sl.No Mushrooms Moisture Ash Protein Fat Crude Carbo- Energy
fibre hydrate value
1 Agaricus 89.5 1.25 3.94 0.19 1.09 6.28 34.4
2 Pleurotus 90.9 0.97 2.78 1.86 1.08 5.33 24.4
3 Volvariella 90.4 1.10 3.90 0.25 1.67 5.51 29.2
4 Lepiota sp 91.0 1.09 3.3 0.18 0.86 - -
5 Pleurotus 92.5 0.98 2.15 0.22 0.87 5.76 34.5-
6 Termitomyce 91.3 0.81 4.1 0.22 1.13 - -
7 Volvariella 88.4 1.46 4.98 0.74 1.38 - 27.6
8 Auricularia 89.1 0.9 4.2 0.9 2.5 7.9 34.7-
9 Flammulina 89.2 0.74 1.76 0.19 0.37 7.31 37.8
10 Lentinus 90-91.8 0.37 1.3-1.7 0.49 .73-.8 6.73- 38.7-
edoes 7.8 39.2
11 Pleurotus 92.2 0.91 2.5 0.11 1.2 5.92 26.1
12 Pleurotus 90.1 0.65 2.66 0.2 1.33 5.07 30.0
Mushrooms are often referred to as valuable protein sources, but actually their protein
content is rather low, normally 3 to 4% of their fresh weight. Water content is usually 90%.
If we calculate protein on dry weight basis it comes between 19-35% protein.
Mushrooms contain less protein than soybeans (39% dry weight), but much more than rice,
orange and apple. Data on comparison between mushrooms and other vegetables are given in
Table 3. The value of proteins is determined by the kinds of amino acids that form the protein.
Mushrooms contain all the essential amino-acids as well as most commonly occurring non-
essential amino-acids and amides. if one or more essential amino-acid is in inadequate supply,
the utilization of all the others will be reduced with the Same ratio. Thus mushroom protein is a
valuable addition to the diet.
Table 3: comparative composition of cultivated mushrooms and some common vegetables per
100 gm of article on fresh weight basis except protein
Sl.No Name Calories Moisture Fat Carbo- Protein %
hydrate (Dry & wt.
1 Beet root 42 87.6 0.1 9.6 12.9
2 Brinjal 24 92.7 0.2 5.5 15.1
3 Cabbage 24 92.4 0.2 5.3 18.4
4 Cauliflower 25 91.7 0.2 4.9 28.8
5 Celery 18 93.4 0.2 3.7 20.6
6 Green beans 35 88.9 0.2 7.7 21.6
7 Green peas 98 74.3 0.4 17.7 26.1
8 Lima beans 128 66.5 0.8 23.5 22.2
9 Potato 83 73.8 0.1 19.1 7.6
10 Mushrooms 16 91.1 0.3 4.4 26.9
Fats & Carbohydrates
Table 2 shows that the fat content on a fresh weight basis is in the range of 0.1 % to
0.9% with an average of 0.38%. Unsaturated fatty acids make up at least 72% of the total fat
content, mainly due to linoleic acid. Saturated acids abound in animal fats and are regarded as
hazardous to health. The high content of linoleic acids is one of the reasons why mushrooms
are considered a health food.
There are some evidences that cream varieties of mushroom contain more fat than white
varieties. The absence of starch and low percentage of fat and carbohydrates in mushroom
makes it an ideal food for diabetic patients and for persons who wish to shed excess fat from
(iii) Vitamins and minerals
Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins such as thiamine (Vit BJ, riboflavin (Vit. B2,
niacin, biotin and ascorbic acid (Vit. C). Mushrooms in general contain significant amounts of
phosphorus, sodium, potassium and a lesser amount of calcium. The vitamin and mineral salt
contents also vary from species to species according to the cultivated substratum. (Table 4)
Table 4: Vitamin & mineral content of some of the edible mushrooms
Sl.No Species Thia Ribo Niacin Ascorbic Ca P Fe Na K
min flavin acid
1 Agaricus 1.1 5.0 55.7 81.9 23 1429 0.2 - 4762
2 Lentinus 7.8 4.9 54.9 - 33 1348 15.2 837 3793
3 Pleurtus 4.8 4.7 108.7 - 98 476 8.5 61 -
4 Velvariella 1.2 3.3 91.9 20.2 71 677 17.1 374 3455
5 Auricularia 0.2 5.2 4.7 - - - - - -
6 Flammulina 6.1 4.9 106.5 - - - - - -
Fibres are also part of a healthy diet In modem society
some food stuffs are refined and thus contain less fibres. Fresh mushrooms contain relatively
large amounts of fibre.
(v) Energy value of mushrooms
Mushrooms are a good source of energy. As reported from analysis of various
mushroom species the fresh mushroom gives energy between 24.4 -39.2 k. Cal/l00 g fresh
weight The average energy per 100 g fresh weight comes about 32.4 k. cal.
Mushrooms are the valuable fungi, used for food and various other purposes. There are
several species of mushrooms edible and poisonous. Before adopting the cultivation of
particular species, it is necessary to become familiar with the characters of that species. The
biggest advantage in mushroom cultivation is that it grows on byproduct and waste material of
It is possible to grow several heavy crops of mushroom in a year and its intensive
cultivation and high yield can be a good source of income for marginal sections of our society.
According to an estimate cereals give an annual yield 30-40 q/ha while mushrooms may give up
200 tonne/ha. So, in this way mushrooms can supply quality food and much needed foreign
After all, in a country like India where vegetarians dominate, every attempt should be
made to popularize a vegetable protein source like mushroom.