A CLOSER LOOK AT MUSHROOMS

Mycena haematopsis

by Jan Parmentier

Mushrooms belong to the fifth kingdom in nature, the fungi. Fungi are the major recyclers in nature. Most fungi are microscopic, they exists as filaments in soil or decaying wood. Mushrooms are fungi that reproduce via macroscopic fruiting bodies, forming spores. Especially in a wet autumn, the colourful world of the mushrooms is a fascinating sight.

boletus edulis

Identifying mushrooms is not easy. In The Netherlands about 3500 species can be found. For at least half that number, a microscopic investigation of spores and special cells is necessary for a reliable identification. And for the other half with enough macroscopic characteristics, a lot of experience, good books and the help of experts is often needed. In this short article we will touch only upon a few general features of mushrooms, interesting for the general microscopist and easily to see.

Even without a lens, mushrooms are a feast for the eyes. The macrophotographs show beautiful, brightly coloured examples.

Most mushrooms belong to one of two classes: the Basidiomycetes and the Ascomycetes. The difference between these two classes is the way of spore forming.

more about BASIDIOMYCETES and ASCOMYCETES on page 2 & 3

If you want to make a serious study of mushrooms, join the local mushroom club. (in the Netherlands: Nederlandse Mycologische Vereniging , Biologisch Station Wijster, Kampsweg 27, 9418 PD Wijster).

References:

Bruno Erb, Walther Matheis; Pilzmikroskopie. Stuttgart: Frankckh, 1982

Michael Jordan, The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe, David and Charles 1995,

Gerrit J. Keizer , Paddestoelen Encyclopedie, Rebo Productions 1997

 

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Jan Parmentier 1998

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