Mycelium / Mycology

Articles, Quotes
Beatrix Potter
Cannabis growing
Chaga Mushrooms
Mycorrhizal Application
Real Mushrooms
Soil Improvement

September is National Mushroom Month

Articles, Quotes

Under our feet, below the surface of the dirt, lies the hidden world of mycelium, stretching often for long distances, communicating, sensing our presence and movements, supporting and trading sustenance with plant life and trees, and producing wonderful mushrooms. I first discovered this hidden world when I read Paul Stamets' book, Mycelium Running (see references below). It has become one of my enthusiasms.

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Mycorrhizae of Landscape Trees by David Sylvia et al... Mycorrhizal associations provide a linkage between tree roots and the soil, thereby contributing to the tolerance of trees to environmental stresses... Mycorrhizae are characterized by the movement of plant-produced carbon compounds to the fungus and fungal-acquired nutrients to the tree... The soilbome, or extramatrical, hyphae take up nutrients from the soil solution and transport them to the root (George et al. 1992). By this mechanism, mycorrhizae increase the effective absorptive surface area of a tree (O'Keefe and Sylvia 1991). As a result, mycorrhizal trees may have better establishment and greater tolerance of environmental stresses than nonmycorrhizal trees (Sylvia and Williams 1992)... cultural practices (e.g., high fertilization and pesticide use) may greatly reduce the number of mycorrhizal propagules in soil

Mycorrhizal Effects on Host Plant Physiology The word "Mycorrhiza" is given to a mutualistic association between a fungus (Myco) and the roots (rhiza) of the plants. This association is symbiotic because the relationship is advantageous for both organisms. The macrosymbiont (the plant) gains increased exploration of the soil (rhizo sphere) with the intricate net of hyphae that increases the uptake of water and nutrients from the soil interphase. The microsymbiont (the fungus) uses the carbon provided by the plant for its physiological functions, growth and development.

A Review of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets Reviewed by Terry Shistar... Stamets and others have been working with fungi that feed on insects, and he has figured out a way to grow fungi that delay their spore formation and actually attract the insect to the fungus, thus breaking through an obstacle in using fungi to protect homes from carpenter ants and termites... Stamets also talks about the use of fungi to detoxify toxic chemicals, and his list of chemicals digestible by fungi includes dioxins, organophosphates, PCBs, and many wood preservative chemicals, including pentachlorophenol. He also tells how filters of mushroom spawn can remove pathogens, nutrients, and toxins from runoff.

Soil Improvement

All About Improving Soil Fertility Research about trees transplanted from nurseries indicates that there is little benefit to fertilizing at the time of planting. Tree fertilization is not recommended on native soils as well because it is usually unnecessary. Conifers rarely need fertilization at all, since most conifers do well in low-nutrient soils...


Glossary of Mycological Terms useful for reading the following materials.

Mycorrhiza Mycorrhizas are commonly divided into ectomycorrhizas and endomycorrhizas. The two types are differentiated by the fact that the hyphae of ectomycorrhizal fungi do not penetrate individual cells within the root, while the hyphae of endomycorrhizal fungi penetrate the cell wall and invaginate the cell membrane.... Ectomycorrhizas, or EcM... An individual tree may have 15 or more different fungal EcM partners at one time

Thesis: TWO-YEAR PERFORMANCE OF HYBRID AND PURE AMERICAN CHESTNUT CASTANEA DENTATA (FAGACEAE) SEEDLINGS AND BENEFIT OF PISOLITHUS TINCTORIUS (SCLERODERMATACEAE) ON EASTERN OHIO MINE SPOIL by ROBERT V. HERENDEEN. We recommend that bareroot hybrid seedlings be inoculated with vegetative mycelial Pt at the nursery, treated with Terrasorb®... As early as the 1920’s the USDA recognized that trees, when established, promote hydrologic balance and soil stability while providing wildlife habitat and inhibiting invasive species (Zeleznik and Skousen 1996)... and Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.), (ODNR Mineral Resources Management 2001),... Mycorrhizal inoculation has also proven beneficial in helping trees cope with the adverse physical properties...


Latin binomialFamilyCommon Name
Taxodium mucronatumPinaceaeMontezuma cypress

...formed mycorrhizae of the arbuscular type. We did, however, sample 5 species that are in plant families dominated by ectomycorrhizae... In contrast, Taxodium mucronatum was colonized by AM fungi in both containers and in raised beds.

Observations of Mycorrhizal Inoculation of Pin and Scarlet Oak Production In Containers by Thomas P. Martin. "Over the course of the last century mycorrhizal symbiosis has come to be recognized as highly beneficial for the host plant. Increased growth, water relations, nutrient acquisition, amelioration of the effects of metal toxicity, and increased resistance to pathogens are all benefits attributed to plants colonized by mycorrhizal fungi. A large body of literature exists that indicates that mycorrhizal inoculation programs are useful for improving the performance of forest tree seedlings. Commercial mycorrhizal products, many containing the ectomycorrhizal fungus Pisolithus tinctorius (Pers.) Coker and Couch (Pt), have emerged from this research and are now being marketed for landscape tree growers."

"Mycorrhizal fungi increase the surface absorbing area of [tree] roots 100 to a 1,000 times... also release powerful enzymes into the soil that dissolve hard-to-capture nutrients, such as organic nitrogen, phosphorus, iron and other “tightly bound” soil nutrients... Tillage, removal of topsoil, erosion, site preparation, compaction, fumigation, invasion of weeds and leaving soils fallow are some of the activities that can reduce or eliminate these beneficial soil fungi. Scientific studies indicate endo mycorrhizal fungal populations are slow to recolonize" (Mycorrhizal Applications [link below]).

Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis increases relative apoplastic water flow in roots of the host plant under both well-watered and drought stress conditions Conclusions: The ability of AM [arbuscular mycorrhizal] plants to switch between water transport pathways could allow a higher flexibility in the response of these plants to water shortage according to the demand from the shoot.

Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are all placed in the phylum (division) Glomeromycota. They form the widespread arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis with land plants (Embryophyta). The fungi are obligate symbionts that cannot be cultured without a plant as a 'host' (symbiotic partner)... All symbionts within a plant host interact, often in unpredictable ways. A recent meta-analysis indicated that plants colonized by both AM fungi and vertically transmitted endophytes often are larger than plants independently colonized... Similar ranges of interactions can occur between AM fungi and ectomycorrhizal fungi... AM fungi were found to increase plant biomass under drought conditions

Over evolutionary history, mycorrhizal status of a species converts from VAM-associated to more “advanced” statuses, such as ECM-associated, on many independent occasions (Wang et. al., 2006). Wang describes the strategy of ECM association as short-term, an opportunistic response to more strenuous environmental conditions, which explains why there are many independent conversions to ECM association, and yet VAM association is still dominant.

Since the ancestor to VAM is thought to have been a key innovation which allowed the evolution of land plants, this would suggest that more primitive groups of species would be more dependent on VAM assocations. Any other species group that showed similarly primitive traits, specifically root hairs that are coarse and sparse, is likely to have a strong VAM association to help improve nutrient intake (Bagyaraj, 1991). This is supported by the findings of Smith and Read (2008), who showed that VAM roots were often more efficient in nutrient acquisition per unit length than non-infected roots.

Chalot and Plassard (2012) noted that VAM [vascular arbuscular mycorrhizae] play a major role in increasing nutrient uptake, especially for phosphorus, but have limited capacity to release nitrogen or phosphorus from inorganic forms. Conversely, ECM [ectomycorrhizae] can actively take up inorganic nutrients and provide them to the host. From this, it can be seen that VAM and ECM provide nutrients to their hosts in functionally different ways.

The most prominent orders that were found to be obligate to Ectomycorrhizae were the Pinales [pine and cypress trees] and Fagales [beech, birch, walnut trees] (Table 2). This is consistent with the findings of Wang et. al. (2005), who showed that Pinaceae and Fagales were dominantly ECM obligate. From analyzing the numerous instances when ECM associations evolved, Wang et. al. hypothesize that the majority of ECM hosts typically grow in nutrient-poor environments, and descend from clades [a group of organisms believed to have evolved from a common ancestor] that used to live in less stressful environments; for example, Rosids such as the Malvales. Ectomycorrhizae are known to sometimes have associations with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which would help in the colonization of areas with resource limitations (Trappe, 1987).

Ectomycorrhizae are more active in nutrient intake. They are also known to secrete enzymes to break down the litter layer in order to gain better access to nutrients (Chalot and Plassard, 2012). Furthermore, while VAM are known to branch into a fan-shaped pattern, the outer extent of ECM, the mycelium, forms a net-shaped structure, which allows for better substrate colonization (Allen, 1991).

The mycorrhizal status of the species examined was dominantly obligative, with associations with Vesicular-Arbuscular Mycorrhizae being common, associations with Ectomycorrhizae being secondary, prevalent especially in species that range in nutrient limited conditions, and with a small group of species that displayed flexible associations.

The defining characteristic of trees is the extensive production of woody tissue, an undertaking which requires good access to nutrients. It is not surprising then that most trees have mycorrhizal associations, as these mutualisms tend to improve nutrient access. The most influential factor for determining VAM versus ECM status seems to be environmental stress, a hypothesis which is supported by the many parallel occurrences of ECM status corresponding to nutrient stress found by Wang et. al. (2006). From the ranges analyzed in this paper and current knowledge of the differences between VAM and ECM fungi, it seems that resource trade-offs play an important role in determining the success of both types of associations. Therefore, through various mechanisms, environment is the main factor which determines mycorrhizal status in trees.

Mycorrhiza Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi are the most common type of Mycorrhizae on the planet, and 90% of all plant families contain AMF. Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi is also known as Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhizae (VAM)

Extracellular activity, (existing, occurring and functioning outside a cell), is known as Ectomycorrhizal Fungi (EcM), and are found between the roots of around 10% of plant families, mostly woody plants including the Birch, Eucalyptus, Oak, Pine and Rose families. Ectomycorrhizas consist of a hyphal sheath, or mantle, which covers the root tip and surround the plant cells within the root cortex. In some cases the hyphae may also penetrate the plant cells, in which case the Mycorrhiza is called an ectendomycorrhiza. Outside the root, the fungal mycelium forms an extensive network within the soil and leaf litter["the mat"]. Nutrients can be shown to move between different plants through the fungal network (sometimes called the wood wide web).

The third most important relationship is Ericoid Mycorrhiza. They have a simple intraradical (grow in cells) phase, consisting of dense coils of hyphae in the outermost layer of root cells. There is no periradical phase and the extraradical phase consists of sparse hyphae that don't extend very far into the surrounding soil. They might form sporocarps (probably in the form of small cups), but their reproductive biology is little understood.

Ericoid Mycorrhizae have also been shown to have considerable saprotrophic capabilities, which would enable plants to receive nutrients from not-yet-decomposed materials via the decomposing actions of their ericoid partners

Ericoid mycorrhiza The ericoid mycorrhiza is a mutualistic symbiosis formed between members of the plant family Ericaceae and several lineages of fungi. The symbiosis represents an important adaptation to acidic and nutrient poor soils that species in the Ericaceae typically inhabit, including boreal forests, bogs, and heathlands. Molecular clock estimates suggest that the symbiosis originated approximately 140 million years ago

('The Ericaceae are a family, commonly known as the heath or heather family and blackberries, of flowering plants found most commonly in acid and infertile growing conditions." (Wikipedia).)

FUNCTION OF ERICOID MYCORRHIZA Plants of the Ericales live in inhospitable environments... The plants are found in acid to extremely acid soils... Mineral nutrients especially nitrogen and phosphorus are particularly unavailable. The mycorrhizal associations of these plants play a crucial role in plant access to both N and P... The precise source of inoculum for initiating colonisation is unclear. Spores of many epacrid mycorrhizal fungi have the potential to survive steam treatment of soil, a characteristic typical of the ascospores of many Ascomycota. This indicates that soils may contain fungal propagules in excess of that necessary for initiation of mycorrhizas, perhaps because the fungi function in other, as yet unknown, areas.


Ranges of trees and mycorrhizal status Most mycorrhizal root infections operate as a mutualism, with the plant providing the fungus with energy for respiration in return for minerals and resources that would be otherwise more difficult to access in soil. The relationships between a plant and its mycorrhizae can significantly affect the growth, survival, and fitness of the plant. In the set of tree species for the FOR305 ID Test, there are two functionally distinct types of mycorrhizae—vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM), which penetrate the root’s cell wall and Ectomycorrhizae (ECM), which do not.

The two mycorrhizal types examined in this paper are defined structurally. Vesicular-Arbuscular Mycorrhizae are formed by glomeromycetous fungi. VAM create arbuscles – branched exchange structures – inside the root, notably penetrating the walls of interior root cells (Bagyaraj, 1991; Wang et. al., 2006). Ectomycorrhizae are formed by basidiomycetous and ascomycetous fungi, and create exchange structures known as Hartig nets between cortical root cells. Hartig nets do not penetrate cell walls (Mukerji et. al. 1991). ECM are generally exclusive to perennials, a relationship attributed to the success of perennials in low nutrient, disturbed, and stressful habitats

Mycorrhizae can benefit plants in a range of ways. In general, mycorrhizae have the ability to gain resources that plants cannot adequately access. Because they have a smaller diameter than that of root hairs, fungal hyphae are better able to colonize pores in the soil (Allen, 1991). As noted by Eissenstat, a smaller diameter means a higher length: root mass ratio, which is generally beneficial, as root uptake is primarily correlated with length rather than mass (1992). Benefits are not always constant over the life of the plant. For some species, mycorrhizal infections have a negligible effect, except in times of resource stress, most often drought (Allen, 1991). In these cases, the mycorrhizae are not a continual mutualistic partner, but an “insurance policy.” Mycorrhizae can also be important during early development, giving seedlings a readily accessible network of resources (Allen, 1991). This is especially true if the surrounding plants are closely related, as networks of mycorrhizae between hosts have been shown to allow nutrients to transfer in any direction, and in a way which prefers hosts which are most genetically similar to other hosts in the network (Dighton, 2003).

Paul Stamets

Mycorrhizal Application

Mycorrhizal application is easy and quick and does not require specialist equipment, training or personal protective equipment. Physical contact between the Mycorrhizal inoculants and the plant root is the only precursor to getting inoculation right. Mycorrhizal inoculants can come in a powder form and be sprinkled onto roots when plants are transplanted, watered in via existing irrigation systems.

Many fertiliser regimes push top growth at the expense of root development, making plants vulnerable to stressful environments. Frequent, high levels of fertiliser produce an unbalanced and often unsustainable shoot-to-root ratio. Mycorrhizae, on the other hand, feed your plants and stimulate root growth. Unlike Mycorrhizae, fertiliser cannot help prevent root disease, improve soil structure or promote other beneficial microbes. natural fertilisers work best with Mycorrhizal inoculants, and improving the soil in the traditional way before planting if it is very poor coupled with the addition of Mycorrhizal inoculants will provide the best results.

How to Inoculate Ectomycorrhizal Fungi Mycorrhizal fungi are generally known as successful tools to increase plant growth and health. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are generally the easiest type of mycorrhizal fungi to inoculate and transplant because they are easily found by woody plants and they do not need to be attached to a host plant to survive.

Ectomycorrhizal fungi - Mycorrhizal fungi that attach their own mycelia to the roots of the host plant using their Hartig Net [1] without invading the host plant's roots. Ectomycorrhizae are usually associated with woody plants, including trees such as fir, pine, beech, oak, and birch.


Stamets Real Mushrooms. Supplements

Fungi Perfecti. Stamets

David Moore's World of Fungi covers the whole range of mycology from UK... Fungi are not bacteria, because fungi are eukaryotes and they have the complex cell structures and abilities to make tissues and organs that we expect of higher organisms... Unfortunately, even though fungi make up such a large group of higher organisms, most current biology teaching, from school level upwards, concentrates on animals, with a trickle of information about plants. The result is that the majority of school and college students (and, since they’ve been through the same system, current University academics) are ignorant of fungal biology and therefore of their own dependence on fungi in everyday life.... There are three major Kingdoms of eukaryotes: Kingdom Fungi, Kingdom Viridiplantae (all green plants), and Kingdom Animalia (all multicellular animals)... "... animals and fungi are sister groups while plants constitute an independent evolutionary lineage..." [Baldauf, S. L. & Palmer, J. D. (1993). Animals and fungi are each others closest relatives - congruent evidence from multiple proteins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U. S. A., 90: 11558-11562].

Symbio Mycorrhizae Mycorrhizae (it means fungus root) are a group of about 400 fungi that form symbiotic relationships with plants. They live in or on the roots, extend their hyphae into the soil and make phosphate, nitrogen other nutrients and water available to the host plant. They extend the effective root area many hundreds of times so plants grow faster, larger and stronger with less fertiliser and water.

Symbio. Mycorrhizae FAQ

Q. Do all plants need the same mycorrhizal fungi?
A. No. Most perennial plants, shrubs trees, vegetables and grasses associate with endo mycorrhizae that live in the root system. Coniferous trees and oak beech birch chestnut and hickory associate with ecto mycorrhizae. These live in the soil on the outside of the root.

Q. When is inoculation with mycorrhizal fungi needed?
A. Mycorrhizae live on the roots of plants so if your field, vegetable patch or flower bed has been left without plants for more than a few weeks there will not be any mycorrhizae present inoculation is needed. Nursery grown plants grown in sterile growing media and fed with fertiliser, water and pesticides will not have mycorrhizal associations and inoculation is needed. If you plant a conifer or beech tree into a lawn or grassland the mycorrhizae in the soil will be endo mycorrhizae the wrong type for conifers so inoculation with ecto mycorrhizae will be needed. If you are planting into heavily disturbed soil, salted or fertilised soil on a building site, ploughed field, roadside or landscaping project inoculation will be needed.

Q. How do I apply mycorrhizal inoculums?
A. Mycorrhizal fungi live on the roots so any method you employ to get the mycorrhizae onto the root of the plant will work. For seeds you can mix with inoculum before planting or dust power into the seed drill. For all other transplants either dust or drench the mycorrhizae onto the roots before planting or apply to the planting pit. For stressed established trees either drill down to the roots with a fork or augur around the drip line approx 0.5 meters apart, put the mycorrhizae in a solution with enough water to reach the feeder roots and pour it down the holes; or use specialist ground aeration equipment e.g. Gwazae to aerate and inject the soil.

Q. Can I overdose?
A. Effectively no but do not put too much carrier around seeds.

Q. What is the minimum amount of inoculum needed to form mycorrhizae?
A. In theory Mycorrhizae can form from only one spore that germinates and infects a root, In practice you get a better result by spreading spores evenly around the root system. Different products have different spore quantities so we suggest that the manufacturers recommendations are followed.

Q. Do mycorrhizae control plant diseases?
A. Mycorrhizae improve the health of plants and their roots, so diseases may cause less damage. Mycorrhizae and symbiotic bacteria and fungi also form a barrier around the root system so it may be more difficult for pathogens to attack the plant allowing mycorrhizal plants to better resist infections by plant pathogens.

Q. Are some types of mycorrhizae better for some plants or soil conditions?
A. Yes that is why Symbio has eight different species of endo mycorrhizae and seven different species of ecto mycorrhizae in its products to account for most conditions and plants.


Ausubel, Kenny, ed. Nature's Operating Instructions: The True Biotechnologies. Armillarias are long lived and form some of the largest living organisms in the world. The largest single organism (of the species Armillaria solidipes) covers more than 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2) and is thousands of years old. Some species of Armillaria are bioluminescent and may be responsible for the phenomena known as foxfire. As a forest pathogen, Armillaria can be very destructive.

Fungi plants, and algae have cell walls. Fungal cell walls are special in that they contain chitin like the exoskeleton of insects and lobsters. Although indigestible to humans hot water extracts bioactive beta—Glucans from the fungal walls. These bind to the surface of macrophage blood cells & act as immunostimulants & cancerostatics.

George, E., K.U. Haussler, S.K. Kothari, X.-L. Li, and H. Marschner. 1992. Contribution of mycorrhizal hyphae to nutrient and water uptake of plants, pp 43-47. In Read, D.J., D.H. Lewis, A.H. Fitter, and I.J. Alexander (Eds.). Mycorrhizas in Ecosystems. CAB International, Wallingford, UK.

O'Keefe, D.M., and D.M. Sylvia. 1991. Mechanisms of the vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal plant-growth response, pp 35-53. In Arora, D.K., B. Rai, K.G. Mukerji, and G.R. Knudsen (Eds.). Handbook of Applied Mycology. Marcel Dekker, New York, NY.

Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (Random House), 2005. Amazing book; will change how you view nature.

Mycelium Running entire book in PDF file

Download the book

Fungi Perfecti great source for spores and info., founded by Paul Stamets

Fungi Perfecti on Paul Stamets

Stamets Articles

6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

Video: Paul Stamets - The Future is Fungi [how to save the planet]

Discover Magazine: How Mushrooms Can Save the World: Crusading mycologist Paul Stamets says fungi can clean up everything from oil spills to nuclear meltdowns.

Fungi Magazine

A Way To Garden article on feeding soil with micorrhizae

Glossary of Mycological Terms

Mycology Glossary


Glossary of Mycological Terms with Photos

Mycological Glossary Or Aid to the Study of Mushrooms extensive and detailed PDF

The Shroomery Mycology Glossary

Mycorrhizal Applications FAQs

Mycological Society of America the publications, Mycologia and Innoculum are very good

North American Mycological Association NAMA

Lambert Spawn Source for professional growers

Earth's Tongue Mycology Supplies

Cecil Terence Ingold "one of the most influential mycologists of the twentieth century"

Turkey Tail Mushrooms Help Immune System Fight Cancer by Paul Stamets

Return of the Fungi Paul Stamets is on a quest to find an endangered mushroom that could cure smallpox, TB, and even bird flu. Can he unlock its secrets before deforestation and climate change wipe it out?

Mycorrhizae of Landscape Trees

Interactions between mycorrhizal fungi and other soil organisms by A.H. Fitter and J. Garbaye. Plant and Soil, 159: 123-132, 1994.

Book: Ch. 11: Specificity Phenomena in Mycorrhizal Symbioses by by Randy Molina et al. Lists Cypresses as one of the trees encouraged by mycorrhizae.

Mycorrhizal Applications Mycorrhizal Applications, Inc. is a leader in the research and development of mycorrhizal inoculum for commercial use. With over 30 years of experience we have compiled the webs largest collection of mycorrhizal related content...

North American Mycological Association

All you ever wanted to know about Mycelium

Some fungi help plants to grow

Mycologia journal

Plants Talk to Each Other Using an Internet of Fungus 11/12/14. Hidden under your feet is an information superhighway that allows plants to communicate and help each other out. It’s made of fungi

The Structure and Function of the Ericoid Mycorrhizal Root

Ericoid mycorrhizas David Moore's World of Fungi: where mycology starts

Mycelium is the Basis for Fungal Growth

All About Fungi by Bryce Kendrick, author of _The Fifth Kingdom_

S.A. Fertile Garden organic supplies like compost, mulch, and beneficial insects

Bio Organics adding life to soil. Sell mycorrhizal innoculants

A Wharton grad hopes there's money in fungus article about new owner of BioOrganics

Doctor Fungus all things mycological. Has abbreviations and glossasry

International Symbiosis Society

What are the health benefits of mushrooms? Mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and calories and have often been referred to as "functional foods." In addition to providing basic nutrition, they help prevent chronic disease due to the presence of antioxidants and beneficial dietary fibers such as chitin and beta-glucans.

One cup of chopped or sliced raw white mushrooms contains 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2.2 grams of protein, 2.3 grams of carbohydrate (including 0.7 grams of fiber and 1.4 grams of sugar). Although there are a large variety of mushrooms available, most provide the same amount of the same nutrients per serving, regardless of their shape or size.

Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins such as riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and niacin. They are also the only vegan, non-fortified dietary source of vitamin D. Mushrooms also provide several minerals that may be difficult to obtain in the diet, such as selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus.

Beta-glucans are a type of fiber that is found in the cell walls of many types of mushrooms. Recently, beta-glucans have been the subject of extensive studies that have examined their role in improving insulin resistance and blood cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of obesity and providing an immunity boost.

Mushrooms also contain choline; an important nutrient found that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline assists in maintaining the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, supports proper fat absorption and reduces chronic inflammation.

Sauté any type of mushroom with onions for a quick and tasty side dish... Add raw sliced crimini mushrooms or white mushrooms to top any salad.

Dr. Weil: Mushrooms for Good Health? In general, I advise against eating a lot of the familiar cultivated white or "button" mushrooms found on supermarket shelves throughout the United States. (Portobello and crimini mushrooms are the same species.) They are among a number of foods (including celery, peanuts, peanut products, and salted, pickled, or smoked foods) that contain natural carcinogens. We don’t know how dangerous these toxins are, but we do know that they do not occur in other mushrooms that offer great health benefits. I strongly advise against eating these or any other types of mushrooms raw, whether they’re wild or cultivated. If you're going to eat them cook them well, at high temperatures, by sauteeing, broiling, or grilling. Heat breaks down many of the toxic constituents.

Dr. Mercola: The Health Benefits of Mushroom Consumption Mushrooms contain some of the most potent natural medicines on the planet. Of the 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi, science is familiar with only 10 percent, according to world-renown mycologist Paul Stamets, who has written six books on the topic.

About 100 species of mushrooms are being studied for their health-promoting benefits. Of those hundred, about a half dozen really stand out for their ability to deliver a tremendous boost to your immune system.

It's important to eat only organically grown mushrooms because they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in — good OR bad. This is what gives mushrooms their potency. Mushrooms are known to concentrate heavy metals, as well as air and water pollutants, so healthy growing conditions is a critical factor.

As a defense against bacterial invasion, fungi have developed strong antibiotics, which also happen to be effective for us humans. Penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline all come from fungal extracts.

Mushrooms that can help boost the nutrient content of your diet include: shiitake, reishi, cordyceps, turkey tail, and Himematsutake.

5 health benefits of mushrooms slideshow Many varieties of mushrooms contain good-for-your-bladder selenium and, like us, they produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Oyster mushrooms are a good source or iron. Plus, they're low in calories: Six medium white, for example, have just 22.

Increase your vitamin D:
Yes, vitamin D! Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable source of this critical vitamin. Like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when in sunlight. Exposing them to high levels of ultraviolet B just before going to market converts more of the plant sterol ergosterol into the so-called sunshine vitamin. In the U.S., portobellos fortified with vitamin D are already being sold.

Boost your immune system:
A study done on mice and published by the American Society for Nutrition found that white button mushrooms may promote immune function by increasing the production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells while they are trying to protect and repair the body’s tissues. A later study showed that these mushrooms promoted the maturation of immune system cells–called dendritic cells–from bone marrow. According to he researchers, this may help enhance the body’s immunity leading to better defence systems against invading microbes.

Eat your antioxidants:
When it comes to antioxidants—the substances that help fight free radicals that are the result of oxidation in our body—we’re more likely to think of colourful vegetables than neutral-hued mushrooms. But a study at Penn State university showed that the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC)—a measure of a food’s total antioxidants—of crimini and portobello mushrooms were about the same as for red peppers.

Kick up your metabolism:
B vitamins are vital for turning food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body burns to produce energy. They also help the body metabolize fats and protein. Mushrooms contain loads of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin): 100 grams (31/2 ounces) of crimini have 44 percent and 30 percent of your daily recommended amount, respectively, white button have 36 and 30 percent, and oyster mushrooms have 32 and 39 percent.

Be good to your bladder:
An analysis of seven studies—published last year in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention—showed that the higher the level of selenium, as measured in blood serum and toenails, the lower the risk of bladder cancer. Selenium had a significant protective effect mainly among women, which the researchers believe may result from gender-specific differences in this its accumulation and excretion. Several types of mushrooms are rich in this essential trace mineral: 100 grams of raw crimini have 47 percent of your daily needs, cooked shiitakes have 45 percent and raw white button have 17 percent.

Mushroom Benefits For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have revered mushrooms’ health benefits.1 Mushrooms have long been celebrated as a source of powerful nutrients.

Mushroom Info includes lots of recipes

Mushrooms 4 Health BY GREG MARLEY

Power of Mushrooms article on flavor without salt.

Are Mushrooms Good for You? Mushrooms are also quite good at neutralizing free radicals, those renegade molecules that can otherwise get up to no good. In fact, you might be surprised (as I was) to learn that when it comes to antioxidant power, the plain old white button mushroom beats out even colorful veggies like green peppers, carrots, green beans, and tomatoes! Best of all, mushrooms contain antioxidants that are not deactivated or destroyed by cooking.

In addition to being antioxidant powerhouses, mushrooms contain unique compounds that appear to boost your immune defense.

You can boost the vitamin D content of mushrooms by putting them on a sunny windowsill or—if sunlight is not plentiful—a UVB bulb works, too. You’ll find UVB bulbs at pet stores that carry supplies for reptiles. Just put your mushrooms under the bulb for a couple of hours and then cook and eat them as usual. This method is so effective that it can even reverse a vitamin D deficiency.

Dried mushrooms can be reconstituted in warm water and then added to soups, casseroles, or stir-fries. Reserve the soaking water after removing the mushrooms. This mushroom “liquor” adds depth and richness to soups or stews—or use it as the liquid to cook rice or other grains.

I also just discovered these great dried mushroom and spice blends from a company called Fungus Among Us. You can sprinkle them over eggs, sandwich fillings, and cooked vegetables. They also make wonderful dry rubs for meat, tofu, or fish. And for a really fantastic dip, try combining 2 tablespoons of the Pacific Blend (organic oyster mushrooms smoked with thyme and cayenne) with 4 ounces of reduced fat cream cheese. Refrigerate over night to let the flavor develop. Serve with crackers or raw vegetables for a healthy, gourmet appetizer.

Fungus Among Us Organic Mushroom products and seasonings--dried mushrooms for sale--health benefits of various mushroom varieties

Fungi-zette Newsletter Greenville, California area

MykoWeb fungi of California

Glossary of mycological terms agaric — a term commonly used to describe a fungus having a cap (pileus), gills (lamellae), and a stem (stipe), i.e., what most people would call a mushroom.

Bibliography of Mycological Reference Materials only has one old Stamets book.

Mushroom: The Journal of Wild Mushrooming

Central Texas Mycological Society

Gulf States Mycological Society website is down

Texas Mycological Society

The Great Morel A Tribute to Shroomers--bunches of information.

Mushroom Hobby California and Beyond

Cascade Mycological Society

Tom Volk's Fungi lots on fungi research

Laccaria bicolor a mycorrhizal member of the Basidiomycota. Of course mycorrhizae (literally "fungus roots") are mutually beneficial relationships between fungi and plants-- the fungus gets sugars from photosynthesis while supplying the plant with essential minerals and increased water uptake. Laccaria bicolor was the first mutualistic fungus to have its entire genome sequenced.

Long before its genome was sequenced, L. bicolor was a favorite species for researchers studying ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. Unlike most other EM fungi, L. bicolor can be grown in culture (from basidiospores or tissue samples) and paired with the roots of its mycorrhizal partner trees (pines and other conifers) in the laboratory, allowing studies of its physiology, biochemistry, and interaction with its plant partner to be studied under controlled conditions. Because most EM plants do not grow well, if at all, without EM fungi, L. bicolor has also been widely used in forestry to colonize the roots of conifer trees prior to outplanting.

Less Lawn info. on lawn alternatives and no-mow yards

The Humongous Fungus--Ten Years Later The fungus Armillaria bulbosa is among the largest and oldest living organisms. Nature 356:428-431),

Tom Volk's Fungi--FAQs Q. Can I eat it? A. Probably not. Of the 70.000 species of fungi about 250 species are considered good delicious edibles. Another 250 species can kill you-- or at least make you wish you were dead. Everything else is something in between-- from some that are "sort of ok tasting if there's nothing else to eat and you're starving in the woods" to some that are "just too bitter or taste too bad to eat," or some that are too small or too tough to eat or that have something else wrong with them.

Wild Mushrooms Factsheet--Ohio State Univ. Many pics.

Basic Mushrooming Missouri... Poisonous mushrooms can contaminate other mushrooms.

Myco Society Colorado. Irritating pop-up ads

New Jersey Mycological Association--Recipes

The Kingdom Fungi The Mycota, or the Fungi, are usually conisidered to be a separate taxonomic Kingdom from either plants or animals... covers diseases caused by fungi

White's Mycology Page

George Barron's Website on Fungi lots of info.

Matsiman Morels

Cornell Mycology website

Technical Report on Mycology

Studies in the Amanitaceae white paper quality info.

Mycology Tips Initially, mycology was studied under botany. Later, it was found that fungi are evolutionary so they are more similar to animals than plants. A publication by Pier Antonio Micheli in 1737 started the research on fungi. The term mycology was coined by M.J. Berkeley in 1836, who was a famous mycologist.

CyberLiber on Mycology Mycological literature is extensive, diverse and often dispersed. The objective of this website is to facilitate access to that literature by providing bibliographic lists of references. The present version of the site provides extensive bibliographic information for mycological publications, most dating from the early 1800s to the 1980s, and covering many works in Russian and Ukrainian.

Robert's Wild Mushroom Cookbook

Wild About Mushrooms cookbook

Fungi-Zette recipes

Glossary of Tree Health Terms covers a lot of fungi

Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farm Gonzales, TX. USDA-certified. Kitchen Pride is the only family-owned, full-service, Texas-based Mushroom Farm in Texas. Firmly established nationally as one of the nation’s premier mushroom farms, Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms is one of the most modern mushroom growing facilities in the United States.

Beatrix Potter, Mycologist: The Beloved Children’s Book Author’s Little-Known Scientific Studies and Illustrations of Mushrooms Beatrix Potter (July 28, 1866–December 22, 1943) is one of the most beloved and influential storytellers of all time.

At a time when women had no right to vote and virtually no access to higher education, very rarely owned property and were themselves considered the property of their husbands, Potter became a commercially successful writer and artist, using the royalties from her books to purchase her famed Hill Top Farm, where she lived simply and with great love for the land for the remaining four decades of her life.

But no aspect of Potter’s kaleidoscopic genius is more fascinating than her vastly underappreciated contribution to science and natural history, which comes to life in Linda Lear’s altogether magnificent Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature (public library) — by far the best book on Potter and one of the finest biographies ever written, Lear’s prose itself a supreme work of art.

Flammulina velutipes (Armitt Museum and Library)

By her early twenties, Potter had developed a keen interest in mycology and began producing incredibly beautiful drawings of fungi, collecting mushroom specimens herself and mounting them for careful observation under the microscope. In the winter months, she frequented London’s Natural History Museum to study their displays.

Hygrophorus puniceus (Armitt Museum and Library)

But her interest went far beyond the mere aesthetics or symbolism of mushrooms — she was studious about their taxonomy, taught herself the proper technique for accurate botanical illustration, and worked tirelessly to get an introduction to the eminent mycologist Charles McIntosh. With his help and encouragement, she continued advancing her microscopic observations, which kindled in her an intense fascination with how mushrooms reproduced — something poorly understood at the time. Potter soon began conducting her own experiments with spores she had germinated herself. She was particularly captivated by lichens, considered at the time the “poor peasants of the plant world,” in the words of the great botanist Linnaeus — a statement itself belying the dearth of scientific understanding at the time, for lichens are not plants but a hybrid of fungi and algae.

Himeola auricula (Armitt Museum and Library)

This hybrid nature, first proposed by the Swiss botanist Simon Schwendener in 1869 and believed by no one else for decades, seemed so laughable a concept that “Schwendenerist” became a term of derision. But young Beatrix’s experiments convinced her that Schwendener was on to something with his “dual hypothesis.” She set down her theories and empirical findings in a paper titled “On the Germination of the Spores of Agaricineae,” accompanied by her breathtakingly detailed illustrations.

Strobilomyces strobilaceus (Armitt Museum and Library)

The Woodwide Web by Susan Goldhor

For a long time I thought of the forest as the ultimate in capitalist ecosystems, where the capital was sunlight and the trees reaching the canopy were the plutocrats. Or, as I privately termed them, the Donald Trunks. As for those below... well, every system has its losers, right?

[Scientists] discovered that the above-ground capitalism of the forest had a social services underground, with a complicated fungal web connecting plants together by their roots, taking from the Haves to give to the Have-Nots. A fungal safety net!

In some estimates, big trees lose/donate as much as 40% of their sugars from their roots and, although some of that goes to feed the soil’s other inhabitants, most of it goes directly to the trees’ fungal partners. These partners (and one tree can have more than twenty different fungal partners) are attached to the roots so thickly as to cover them, but they also maintain connections to others of the same species and to other plants.

It’s this network, which some clever person has termed the “wood-wide web” which keeps those understory plants and light-deprived seedlings alive on the forest floor. That tiny hemlock tree that doesn’t even reach your knee and has a stem thinner than a pencil? It might be a hundred years old. Supported by the web, it’s waiting for an ice storm or a hurricane or a logger to open up the canopy and give it sun and space to grow.

No tree is an island. No tree lives by sunlight and carbon dioxide alone. Tree roots exist for physical support. They’re really not very good at accessing water and nutrients.

It’s the fungal web that can find distant patches of water; that can leach phosphorus from minute mineral particles; that rots debris and kills insects to get nitrogen, and then shares all this with the big trees in exchange for sugar.

Radical Mycology I'm a bit of a fungi nerd, and with good reason, as fungi are one of the key elements of life on Earth while being one of the least understood, at least in terms of the sheer volume of varieties and how they interact with the rest of the systems on the planet. I'm currently reading Radical Mycology: A Treatise on Seeing and Working With Fungi, which is an incredible foray into the world of fungi, and was kind of blown away by the fact that of an estimated 15 million species on Earth, some 6 million of them may be fungi, and yet only about 75,000 of them, or 1.5%, have been classified as now. This means that the study of mycology is one of the areas of the life sciences that is still relatively untapped, and because of what we're now starting to learn about fungal networks and mycelial 'internets,'

Tyroler glückspilze Everything to be happy--mushrooms [Deutsch]

Soil Improvement

Mycorrhizal Fungi: The Amazing Underground Secret to a Better Garden Nurture the ancient, symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and plants’ roots for increased garden harvests and healthier soil.

We still define natural habitats primarily in terms of plants and animals, the two kingdoms of life we can see with unaided eyes. The greatest amount of biological activity and the largest diversity of species and genes, however, come from the other four kingdoms science now recognizes: bacteria, archaea (a less-studied division of life-forms formerly considered bacteria), protists (mostly single-celled algae and protozoans), and fungi.

The vast majority of these members are microscopic in size. They cannot be seen with the naked eye, but we now know they permeate soils and suffuse waters. They drift en masse through air. They thrive not only on the surface of every plant and animal, but within them as well. From the upper reaches of the atmosphere to the bottom of the seas, down into the rock layers and outnumbering the stars in the known universe, microbes are literally the creatures that make Earth a living planet.

Microbes remain mostly in the “out of sight, out of mind” category of nature for a lot of folks. Others, chemical spray in hand, can hardly stop thinking about them, envisioning “germs,” mold spores and other unseen swarmers poised to unleash disease and rot. Either way, a broader understanding of the life-forms that truly put the “bio” in “biosphere” has been slow to emerge.

Interest is building, though, as the public learns more about the positive roles microorganisms play, including how some types can boost yields in gardens. These mycorrhizae — extraordinary fungi that interact with our garden crops — are what we’ll be zooming in on.

A white fungal network called hyphae, not plant roots, is the principal structure for the uptake of many important nutrients in the plant kingdom. / The hyphae of mycorrhizal fungi are only a single cell wide, and they penetrate a root’s cell wall to facilitate nutrient exchanges between the fungi and the root tip. This illustration is magnified about 200 times. Illustrations by Michael Rothman

I’m a wildlife biologist. Decades ago, I visited a team working to restore streamsides churned to bare gravel by placer mining. They were planting willow and alder in hopes of stabilizing the banks and preventing further erosion. Other vegetation could then move in and once again shade the passing waters, cooling them for native trout and spawning salmon. I was already picturing songbirds returning to nest in the lush foliage while mink, otters, and bears patrolled the shores, except the normally hardy willow and alder wouldn’t grow. They withered instead, and the banks stayed empty — until the team prepared the next batch to be planted by first soaking their roots in a broth containing certain fungi. This is common practice today. It wasn’t then. Besides changing the way I’ve planted trees at home ever since, the visit made me realize that my view of the most important wildlife in ecosystems might be upside-down.

What is called a mushroom is merely the temporary structure some fungi grow to produce spores. The main body of a fungus typically consists of a network of fine-branching threads known as “hyphae.” While you’ll sometimes see them massed together, spread like a web across a decomposing log, they’re usually hidden underground and essentially invisible to us; the individual filaments are only a single cell wide.

The network of fungal hyphae is called a “mycelium.” As it turns out, the largest known creature on Earth is neither a blue whale nor a redwood tree; it’s the several-hundred-ton mycelium of one humongous fungus that’s between 2,000 and 8,000 years old. Spread across 4 square miles of Oregon’s Blue Mountains, the fungal network grows at an average depth of only a few feet. By contrast, the mycelia of most species are small, but they’re as common as, well, dirt. If you pick up a pinch of soil almost anywhere, you’ll have miles of hyphae in your hand.

Estimates for the number of fungi species run in the millions. Mycologists have identified close to 100,000 so far. Of those, nearly 6,000 interact with plants’ roots. These are roughly divided into two types: those in which the fungus remains outside the root’s cells (ectomycorrhizal fungi) and those that penetrate the root’s cells (endomycorrhizal fungi, illustrated in the Slideshow).

The outcome in both cases is a continual exchange of goods. Ten to 20 percent of the sugars a plant produces through photosynthesis are absorbed by the mycorrhizae. In return, the fungus delivers many essential nutrients to the plant and increases drought resistance.

Higher crop yields can be the result for gardeners. As the ends of the hyphae weave among soil particles via cracks and crannies too small for even the narrowest root hair, the mycelium becomes an auxiliary root system that’s in contact with a subterranean volume of soil from several hundred to 2,500 times greater than what the plant could reach alone.

Plants routinely face a challenge absorbing enough of certain key elements, such as phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and iron. Fungi don’t face this obstacle; they produce specialized acids and enzymes that break the bonds that bind those nutrients to soil and organic compounds. Although we call this process “decay” and attach a morbid aura to the word, it’s a lively enterprise.

Gardeners recognize this decomposition from their compost piles. It’s no surprise that a plant with hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of hyphae working on the plant’s behalf to mine key nutrients and freight them back to the roots is able to grow faster, stay healthier, and ultimately yield more than it would without the fungi’s partnership.

Leeks inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi (right) grow much better than those planted without an inoculant (left). Photo by Paul Pierlott /

Polish scientist Franciszek Kamienski gets credit for discovering in the 1880s that the fungus and plant combination was in fact a symbiosis — a mutually beneficial partnership. A contemporary gave it the name “mycorrhiza,” which is Latin for fungus-root. Don’t get freaked out by the Latin. Just say it with me: my-core-rise-uh. The plural is mycorrhizae: rise-A.

At least 90 percent of all plant families are known to partner with mycorrhizal fungi. These associations can be between a single fungus species and a single plant species, but most plants associate with many species of fungi, and vice versa. Mycorrhizae are by no means considered the exception any longer. They rule. Mycorrhizae, not plant roots, are the principal structures for most nutrient uptake in the plant kingdom.

The first plants that colonized land some 400 to 500 million years ago were descendants of aquatic algae. According to fossil evidence, symbioses with fungi appeared shortly afterward. Some think they had already formed before the proto-plants even left the water. Either way, mycorrhizae would have greatly improved early plants’ chances of adapting to the stresses imposed by the harsher and less predictable environments encountered on shore, especially since those plants hadn’t really developed roots yet. In a sense, helping plants cope with the demands of life on land is what mycorrhizae have been doing ever since.

Although we think of fungi being most at home in deep, dank forests, they’re surprisingly abundant in open shrublands and prairies, too. The outer walls of hyphae contain gluey compounds that cause fine particles of earth to clump together on and around the threads. This process is a major factor in building soil structure and making the ground less vulnerable to erosion.

Mycelial networks also play a valuable role in sequestering carbon within microclusters of filaments. They limit their partner plants’ exposure to heavy metals, such as lead, zinc and cadmium, by keeping those elements bound to the hyphae’s sticky sheath.

At high latitudes and high altitudes, mycorrhizal fungi scrounge nutrients from cold, rocky soils. In boggy regions, the hyphae buffer plant partners from the high acid content of peaty soils. In saline ground, the hyphae help safeguard their partners from high salt concentrations. Mycorrhizae can also protect plants from pests and diseases.

How can a gardener take advantage of this symbiotic relationship that plants and fungi have been developing for 400 million years? Microbiologist David Douds of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has been studying that question for 35 years. His studies show that fungal inoculants can increase the yields of many vegetable and field crops, including leeks, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

Inoculants can give transplants a strong start, but the main key to raising good crops lies in maintaining healthy communities of native mycorrhizal fungi in the ground itself. Douds cautions against heavy or frequent tilling and the use of chemical fertilizers (especially phosphorus) and soil-applied fungicides. These activities break apart, weaken or otherwise suppress beneficial microbes, including fungal mycelia. You can keep your soil in prime condition by minimizing disturbances apart from occasional light tilling, weeding and mulching.

How to Use Cover Crops and Other Techniques to Increase Beneficial Fungi Populations

An equally important step is to ensure that mycorrhizal fungi survive through winter and early spring. The kinds of mycorrhizal fungi that support many garden crops aren’t capable of living and reproducing independently of their plant partners. In a carefully weeded and fully harvested garden, mycorrhizal fungi numbers can decline for lack of live roots to colonize.

Douds advises avoiding empty beds by keeping plants, whether food crops or cover crops growing at all times. (See Cover Crops and Cover Crops 2 for ideas.) In fall, plant rye, oats or, Douds’ favorite, hairy vetch. All of these plants have extensive root systems and readily harbor mycorrhizae.

Rows of perennial onions and strawberries can also serve as reservoirs for overwintering fungi. Orchards don’t require the same attention, but buffer strips of a grass-and-legume blend will help retain a mix of fungi.

Douds sows hairy vetch in September while his garden is still producing, targeting areas where the soil is accessible, such as under and around tomato plants.

The following year — usually late May when the hairy vetch is in full flower — he chops the shoots and lets them lie on the soil’s surface. Wait until the hairy vetch is in full flower; cut it too soon and it will re-sprout as a “weed,” but cut it too late and it will produce seeds, which can be problematic. Douds then transplants his tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables into the hairy vetch mulch.

Since learning about mycorrhizae’s reliance on live plants for winter survival, Mother’s Editor-in-Chief, Cheryl Long, has grown a thin strip of perennial alfalfa along the edges of her garden paths. “It doesn’t take up growing space, and during summer I cut it for protein-rich poultry feed,” Long says.

Many gardeners know that over-fertilization can be harmful, but they may not be aware that phosphorus builds up in soil more readily than the other two elements in common fertilizer mixes (nitrogen and potassium). Under a regimen of frequent, well-intended application, phosphorus can reach levels that actually discourage the formation of mycorrhizae. Phosphorus is the middle number of the N-P-K percentages shown on fertilizer products. Choose low “P” numbers unless a soil test has shown your soil is low in phosphorus.

Now that scientists have taught us that invisible, magical mycorrhizae are in the soil, minimal tilling and constant cover crops should be considered a routine part of growing good crops. If you want to take extra steps in spring to help your crops establish these remarkable plant-fungi partnerships, Douds, in cooperation with the Rodale Institute, has developed a technique you can use to grow your own fungal inoculum to give your transplants a head start at the very beginning of their lives. For details, visit the Rodale Institute.

Quick and Easy Guide: On-farm AM fungus inoculum production Following is the crib-notes recipe for producing beneficial AM fungus inoculum on-farm.

The following list will produce 16 “Grow Bags” of inoculum, enough to make 200 or 400 ft3 of inoculated greenhouse potting media depending on the dilution ratio (1:9 or 1:19) of inoculum:potting media used in the final step.

Bahiagrass seed (sources for bahiagrass seed can be found on the internet, for example:

Conical plastic pots (we use RLC-4 Pine Cells from Stuewe and Sons, Corvallis, OR 97333)

Coarse sand such as swimming pool filter sand (240 in3 for 80 seedlings)

Ground cover fabric (16 Grow Bags fit on a 1.2 m x 3.6 m or 4 ft x 12 ft section)

16-7 gallon “Grow Bags” (one source is Worm’s Way, Bloomington, IN 47404)

4-4 ft3 bags of vermiculite

4 ft3 of compost

In order to maximize mycorrhizal proliferation and colonization of the host plant, the inoculum bags should be setup outside as soon as possible after the last frost. Some work is necessary before this date. The finished inoculum will be ready for use the following spring.

4 months before the predicted last frost [11/20 in San Antonio]:

Germinate bahiagrass seeds (or other host seeds) in vermiculite or seed starter.

Order any needed materials.

3 months before the predicted last frost [12/20 in San Antonio]:

Transplant bahiagrass seedlings into conical plastic pots filled with 1:3 soil:sand mixture (volume basis). In order to avoid introducing pathogens, we suggest using sterilized field soil. Another option is to use soil from a natural area of the farm or from a field that has not been used within the past 2 years to grow the crop that will be inoculated.

As soon as possible after the last frost [3/20 in San Antonio]

Set up the inoculum production area by covering an area with the ground cover fabric. This will provide a clean, open area that makes maintenance easy. It will prevent weeds from growing around the bags and contaminating the inoculum with weed seed.

Set up the grow bags:

Mix compost and vermiculite in chosen dilution. A basic recommendation for yard clippings compost from municipal facilities is a 1:4 compost:vermiculite ratio (volume basis).

Fill bags ¾ full with mixture. Roll the lip of the bag down to just above the level of the mix.

Add 100 cm3of field soil as the “inoculum starter” and mix well.

Pool 4-5 soil samples taken from the surface to 10cm (4 in) deep. Sieve out roots and rocks.

To avoid introducing pathogens and to obtain a diverse sample of AM fungi, take samples from a natural area of the farm or from a field that has not been used within the past 2 years to grow the crop that will be inoculated.

Transplant 5 bahiagrass or host plant seedlings into each bag.

During the growing season:

Weed and water the bags as needed. The mycorrhizae will proliferate as the plants grow.

Frost will kill the bahiagrass and the mycorrhizae will overwinter naturally outdoors in the bags.

The following spring:

Harvest the inoculum:

To keep the inoculum clean, cut off the dead bahiagrass leaves and discard.

Shake the compost and vermiculite mix from the root ball into a bin. This mix will contain the mycorrhizal spores and hyphae.

Cut the roots into short segments (less than 1cm or ½ inch) and mix into bin. The roots contain the mycorrhizal vesicles.

Mix the inoculum into your potting medium:

Use a 1:9 inoculum:media mix (volume basis) for flats with cells of 50 cm3 or smaller. For larger cells a 1:19 mixture should be sufficient.

Amend your greenhouse fertilization regime to avoid P-sufficient plants that will resist colonization:

Conventional farmers: Try to achieve a P addition of 3 ppm or less for no more than three fertilizer applications per week. Apply P-free solutions at other times if necessary.

Organic farmers: If your potting medium requires additional fertilization, use a low P source. If your potting medium contains all the nutrients needed during the greenhouse culture phase, no modifications are recommended at this time.

When gardening or farming with mycorrhizae in mind, there are a couple of things you don’t need to worry about. The first, Douds points out, is that you don’t need to inoculate your established garden soil with beneficial fungi.

If the soil has had plant cover and hasn’t been abused, it will already have the fungi present. The second non-worry is what would be best for beets, spinach and most members of the mustard family, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, kale and radishes. These are among the relatively few plants that get along fine without fungi for partners.

How to Promote the Plant-Mycorrhizae Partnership

• Minimize soil tilling
• Always keep live plants in your beds, even in winter
• Rotate crops within your beds
• Avoid pesticides and chemical fertilizers
• Avoid applying too much phosphorus; a soil test every few years is a good idea

Mycorrhizal Fungi and Plant Roots: A Symbiotic Relationship Mycorrizal fungi help plant roots absorb nutrients and fight off harmful, soil-dwelling predators. In exchange, the fungus receives sugars and nutrients from its host plant.

Lichens from Antarctica survived 34 days in a laboratory setting designed to simulate the environment on Mars. Photo by Fotolia/Ifrabanedo / The prevailing opinion among experts is that when you’re looking through a microscope at mitochondria, you’re looking at highly modified bacteria whose ancestor formed a symbiosis with a larger, single-celled creature eons ago. Photo by Fotolia/zozulinskyi

Observations of hyphae bound together with root hairs weren’t reported until the 19th century. No one made much of the findings for decades afterward, because botanists took them to be examples of fungi parasitizing plants. Polish scientist Franciszek Kamienski gets credit for discovering in the 1880’s that the fungus and plant combination was in fact a symbiotic relationship.

A contemporary gave it the name mycorrhiza, Latin for fungus-root. Say it with me: my-core-rise-uh. The plural is mycorrhizae: rise-A. It’s worth remembering, because as the years went by, researchers discovered mycorrhizae among the roots of more and more trees, shrubs, grasses, herbs, and even non-vascular plants such as ferns and liverworts.

We All Need Somebody to Lean On: Symbiotic Relationships

At least 80 percent of the plant species on the globe, representing more than 90 percent of all the plant families, are known to form mycorrhizae. In addition to facilitating the transportation of nutrients, at least one kind of mycorrhizal fungus attracts and kills the tiny soil-dwelling arthropods called springtails, a rich source of nitrogen.

Other carnivorous fungi capture the superabundant microscopic worms known as nematodes, either with sticky knobs that develop from the hyphae, fine filament meshes, or loops that constrict to snare passing prey — fungal lassoes. Weird, but Yeehaw! A variety of mycorrhizal fungi protect plant associates from root-devouring nematodes by producing chemicals lethal to the worms, nematicides, which have drawn interest from the agricultural pest control industry.

Many mycorrhizal fungi secrete antibiotics fatal to bacteria that infect root systems. Not surprisingly, those chemicals have generated close interest among researchers, too.

The more vigorous a plant, the better it can contend with diseases and parasites, compete for space and sunlight, invest extra energy in the production of flowers or cones, successfully reproduce, and replace growth lost to insects, larger grazing animals, storm breakage and seasonal defoliation. That’s the game. Engaging in a symbiotic relationship with fungi is clearly a winning combination for plants, and the connections reach more widely than you might suppose.

Combining old-fashioned shovel work with modern genetic analysis, researchers have traced mycelia that directly connect two or more individuals of the same plant species, allowing them to share resources. They have also found mycelia with hyphae connecting different species. For example, a cluster of conifer saplings arising from a dark forest floor and struggling upward toward the light needs nitrogen to continue building tissues. This element is particularly hard to come by in many woodland soils, and there may be little or none near the saplings’ roots.

But if one of the young conifers can get an infusion of that element through hyphae linked to an alder or birch tree, whose roots host symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria, that particular sapling may be good to go. Make that good to grow.

Of course, a physical attachment via a mycelium isn’t necessary for a plant lacking a nutrient to benefit from a surplus associated with a different plant. If hyphae from the impoverished plant only reach the soil near the second plant, this can be enough.

People have been planting nitrogen-hungry crops like maize next to legumes like peas and beans for generations, think of the Native American’s Three Sisters Gardens. Some farmers might have guessed that the roots of one plant borrowed good stuff from the soil around another, but nobody was aware of the bacteria in nodes on the legume roots making the nitrogen available or aware of the mycorrhizal hyphae gathering it. They just knew the maize grew better.

These days, orchardists, commercial farmers and dedicated gardeners tend to be keenly aware of the symbiotic relationship between plants’ roots and fungi. A good measure of growers’ interest can be found in the long list of companies currently selling mycorrhizal fungi. They offer packets and jars of inoculants to treat roots or seeds prior to planting and larger quantities for broadcasting onto croplands, especially those whose mycelial structures have been disrupted by chemical treatments, over-tilling or compaction from trampling.

Lichen: A Biological Alloy

If you ask the general public to name a partnership between a fungus and a plant, those who aren’t at a loss will probably answer “lichens.” Easily found and often strikingly colorful, lichens are indeed a fungus combined with a photosynthesizing species, but that partner isn’t a plant.

It will be a microbe, single-celled algae or else cyanobacteria, which can convert sunlight to energy as well. Some fungi partner with both types at once. As in a mycorrhiza, the fungus takes a share of the sugars produced by its solar-powered collaborator.

Cyanobacteria also fix nitrogen, making that available to any resident algae as well as to the fungus. The fungus meanwhile shelters the partner cells nested among its filaments and keeps them moist by absorbing water from rain, mists, and dew. In addition, the fungus delivers nutrients from airborne dust caught on its threads and from whatever surface it’s anchored to by the filaments extending from its base.

Swiss botanist Simon Schwendener proposed in 1867 that this combination of creatures represented a symbiotic relationship. It earned him years of scorn from prominent lichenologists. That all organisms are separate, autonomous beings wasn’t just an assumption in those days. It was more like a creed — a projection of the human sense of individual identity in Western culture.

As of 2014, thousands of species of lichens have been identified. By one estimate, they cover as much as six percent of the planet’s land surface. Their nature as a sort of biological alloy makes them tremendously self-sufficient and able to inhabit extreme environments. Often the first to colonize sites destroyed by catastrophic natural events or human disturbance, lichens are also among the last organisms you’ll find standing as you travel from well-watered realms into deserts. It’s the same as you journey from moderate climes toward the barren terrain of alpine crags or polar expanses.

Lichens from Antarctica survived 34 days in a laboratory setting designed to simulate the environment on Mars. For that matter, lichens have been shot into orbit and placed outside a spacecraft in a container that was then opened, directly exposing those composite creatures to the flash-freezing temperatures and cosmic radiation of space for 15 days. Upon returning to Mother Earth, they simply resumed growing!

So many of the plants we see in a field or forest are symbiotic with fungi, and the soils underfoot are so saturated with hyphae, it’s not hard to picture such habitats as titanic lichens. You just have to imagine the plants as equivalent to the single cells of symbiotic algae — big algae poking into the air above ground while enwrapped in a mesh of fungal threads below.

I am You, and You Are Me

Perhaps this is where we should shift our gaze from other species to the one calling itself Homo sapiens. The body of people who puzzle over how the living world works — just like the body of people who aren’t all that interested — each contains trillions of human cells and ten times that many microbes. Some are harmless hitchhikers, but most are symbionts that contribute to our well-being.

Roughly 30,000 species — primarily bacteria but also archaea, protists, and fungi (mostly in the form of yeasts) — typically inhabit the human stomach and intestinal tract. They carry out much of our digestion, manufacture vitamins, fatty acids and other nutrients often missing in the foods we eat; secrete enzymes and hormones that influence the body’s metabolism, energy storage, and immune system, and they destroy or neutralize harmful microbes.

Thousands more species inhabit our mouth and throat, flourishing in those warm, humid environments while helping ensure that harmful varieties of microbes don’t. Still others congregate on our skin and in its pores, in the conjunctiva of our eyes, and in ….. let’s just say any other place you care to imagine.

People are increasingly aware of these facts nowadays. Yet the human-microbe symbiosis goes way deeper. Every cell in every plant and animal, many protists, and all fungi contains organelles known as mitochondria. Commonly described as the power sources of the cell, they build the molecule ATP (adenosine triphosphate), whose complex bonds, when broken, release the energy needed to drive other cellular functions.

Mitochondria have their own DNA, different from that in the cell’s nucleus but similar to DNA found in bacteria. These organelles also reproduce on their own by splitting, just as bacteria do. The prevailing opinion among experts is that when you’re looking through a microscope at mitochondria, you’re looking at highly modified bacteria whose ancestor formed a symbiosis with a larger, single-celled creature eons ago.

It probably began with the bigger cell engulfing a bacterium to eat it. Somehow the eatee avoided being digested, took up residence inside the eater’s protoplasm, and carved out a niche in the energy production business. That combination became the primordial line that ultimately led to the larger life forms we know today.

Plants have an additional type of organelle in their cells: chloroplasts. These are the photosynthesizing modules, where green pigments in complex proteins convert the sun’s radiation to chemical energy. That in turn fuels the construction of sugars from ordinary carbon dioxide and water, with oxygen given off as a byproduct.

Like mitochondria, chloroplasts have their own DNA and reproduce independently. As far as scientists can tell, the chloroplasts are almost certainly a strain of cyanobacteria. Widespread in early seas, those microbes were among the first — and maybe the very first — organisms to develop photosynthesis.

Scientists largely credit them with converting earth’s early atmosphere of methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide to a breathable, oxygen-rich one. At some point, like the ancestors of mitochondria, ancient cyanobacteria merged with larger, single-celled organisms. Once again, it may have started when a bigger cell engulfed a smaller one, in this case a cyanobacterium that survived to carry on its sunlight-driven routines. The sugars it contributed led to a better-than-average survival rate for subsequent generations of both species as they reproduced. Their descendants developed into unicellular algae, then multicellular algae, and then — with the help of symbiotic fungi — land plants.

And there you have it. You, I, the rest of humanity, and just about every visible creature we relate to as wildlife, pets, livestock, crops, ornamental plants, and so on, are symbionts, joint ventures in the business of existence, partnered-up from head to toe (or root) with invisible life forms. To me this means that whether you are lost in the wild, mowing a suburban lawn or sitting on the top floor of a skyscraper in an empty, sanitized room, you are never really alone and never truly separate from nature, no matter what you feel or prefer to believe. It’s for others to speculate on the implications for our cherished sense of individuality, not to mention our politics, religious views and environmental consciousness.

Creating Your Own Mycorrhiza Mycorrhiza can be broken down to its root words and translated literally to “root fungus”. Whether fungus makes you think of yellow toenails or mushrooms on a pizza, most don’t realize the impact they do and can have on all life on Earth.

They are an amazing life-form that we are just scratching the surface of their potential. One use that commercial growers and nurseries have known for a while but is now starting to trickle to the average gardener is the symbiotic relationship mycorrhizal fungi has with plants.

All life has co-evolved with bacteria and fungi over millions of years. All life depends on life. Life not only needs to eat life to live but they also need to work together to be successful. Even humans have co-evolved with other life to get to where we are today.

Mitochondria, a component in our cells that creates energy for the cell to produce proteins and molecules for cell function and reproduction has some of its own genetic code intact. This is theorized as occurring because at one point in time it was its own organism. It starting working with other cells and over time they became dependent on each other.

In the bigger picture, roughly 90% of the cells in our body belong to other organisms. Only 10% of the cells that make up us are actually us. We wouldn’t be able to live without the other micro-organisms we evolved with. And plants are the same way.

The roots of plants can only take in nutrients within its rhizosphere, or the area surrounding its roots. This area encompasses about 1/10 of an inch around the roots. Think about it. All that fertilizer, compost, water and whatever else you dump in the soil is only getting to the plant if it is 1/10 of an inch away from the roots. The rest is wasted.

To better survive, the plants root system secretes out certain exudates (organic acids and sugars) to attract particular organisms (fungi and bacteria) for whatever micro-nutrient the plant is lacking. Fungi spread out in root-like stringy webs called hypha and bring the nutrients to the rhizosphere to trade them for the exudates. This basically increases the area of the plants rhizosphere and thus more access to nutrients for the plant.

This alone makes me want to use these little organisms in my garden, but a strong colony of beneficial fungi and bacteria crowd out the harmful ones leaving the plant in better condition. It helps the plant resist pests and diseases, helps the plants from overstressing, and can also increase drought tolerance.

Many studies from around the world have shown the benefits of encouraging this symbiotic relationship. So while you can go buy specific species of fungi to add to your garden and fields’, making them on your own is as easy as creating an environment for what is already in the soil to thrive.

Creating Soil Helpers: They Work Hard So You Don’t Have To

Fungi and Bacteria are classified as decomposers. If they weren’t around we would quickly be swimming in un-decomposed organic matter. Though paradoxically, without them we would not have that organic matter in the first place.

Bacteria are nitrogen loving and capable of ingesting only the simplest of micro-nutrients and sugars.

Woody carbon-filled matter is what fungi are good at breaking down with the enzymes it creates. Knowing this I set out to establish different environments for both organisms to grow.

For the bacteria I made sure to have lots of small organic materials for them to munch on. Layering my compost pile with a good ratio of carbon to nitrogen ensures that the organic matter breaks down enough for the bacteria. Air and water are needed for this as well so a moist and aerated compost pile with plenty of brown and green material is a perfect breeding ground for beneficial bacteria.

Lots of worms showing up in your compost pile are a sign of many decomposers present since this is the worm’s main diet. The excreted material leftover by the worms is also a great addition for soil fertility. I cover my compost pile with straw or leaves since UV light can kill the bacterial colonies you are encouraging to grow.

For the fungi I covered my low hoop tunnel bed last fall with straw while my remaining summer crops were wrapping up for the year. Before winter came I added a good amount of leaves I collected in the Compost Bandit over the top of the straw. This mulch covered the fungi within the soil and enabled them to grow around the straw.

This method is easier than composting because it requires you to do the opposite; you don’t turn it. As mentioned earlier, fungi spread out with thin stringy webs called hypha. Turning and mixing the soil would destroy that hypha killing the network the fungi had created. This is why no-till or low-till is more beneficial in the long run than tilling the ground up every year. You are making it harder for the beneficial fungi to grow which limits their presence for the plants come spring time.

Hoop Tunnel ~

Before spring came this year, I carefully removed all the leaves from my garden bed exposing all the fungi that had been growing there. The next step was to add the bacteria filled compost directly on top. This gives me fungi, bacteria, and good compost to make my garden bed a fertile one for this year’s crops. When pulling out the few weeds that had managed to grow under the leaves, I saw the fungi all wrapped up in the roots. This was a good sign of things to come for the plants I wanted to grow there this year.

In a world where we are too impatient for things to come, it makes sense to find simple ways of doing things so we can more easily make the transition from short term thinking to long term. Growing beneficial fungi doesn’t take any work from you other than setting up an area that encourages growth. There is no tossing and mixing. There is no checking on it daily. It should be added to your end of the year garden preparation for winter. This will not only enable you to use less fertilizers and pesticides but will also make your plants all the more happier and healthier, passing those benefits on to you.

Cannabis Growing

Fantastic Fungus: How Mycelium Can Improve Your Cannabis Plants

What is mycelium?

You've likely experienced the wonder of stumbling across some gorgeous fungi while out in the natural world. Whether it be a cartoonish amanita muscaria sprouting out of grass or wood chips, or a cluster of delicious oyster mushrooms formed on the side of a down log, the thrill at finding such unique and attractive life never ceases for nature lovers. No matter the shroom you've encountered, it is actually just one small part of a huge organism.

Mushrooms serve as the spore-spreading component of FUNGUS. Similar to a fruit dropping seeds, mushrooms drop spores into the ground, and when inoculated, spores become a single-celled organism known as a HYPHA. This thin, thread-like organism then spreads out underground exponentially into a huge branching system of white, thin, root-like masses, which are KNOWN AS MYCELIUM. At the end of this life cycle, a mushroom is formed, and once that mushroom reaches maturity, it begins to spread spores and start the cycle all over again. Mushrooms are just the means of reproducing mycelium.

Mycelium, when present in soil, adds a huge number of benefits to any plants that grow with it - including cannabis.

The Benefits Of Mycelium For Plant Life

There are three types of mycelium:

• Saprophytic, a scavenger of sorts that feeds off dead organic matter.

• Parasitic, which absorbs nutrients from a live host.

• Mycorrhizae, which feeds off live plants, in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Mycorrhizae is the mycelium most gardeners will want to focus on cultivating in their soil.

So, how are mycorrhizae beneficial for plants? Mycorrhizae feed by attaching themselves to plant roots, which provide the fungi with sugars from photosynthesis that these darkness dwellers would otherwise be unable to access. In return, the mycorrhizae expand the plant's root system and help it reach far-away nutrients that would otherwise be unavailable to the plant. Being attached directly to the root also helps nutrients, particularly phosphates, become more soluble for plants.

Ask any cannabis grower who uses mycorrhizae in their mix of nutrients, and they'll tell you this magical fungus also immensely stimulates root growth. This process ALSO HELPS PLANTS OF ALL KINDS BECOME MORE DROUGHT RESISTANT.

According to a study, titled, "Improved soil structure and citrus growth after inoculation with three arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi under drought stress," and published in the European Journal of Soil Biology, the researchers examined the benefits of mycorrhizae for citrus plants, with the results indicating that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi benefitted citrus seedlings by improving the soil structure and increasing their propensity for drought resistance. ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZAE IS THE MOST COMMON TYPE OF MYCORRHIZAL MYCELIUM USED TO BUILD SOIL.

Another benefit mycorrhizae offer is HELPING EXPUNGE HEAVY METALS FROM GROUNDWATER, AND THUS REDUCE PLANTS’ ABSORPTION OF THESE OFTEN-TOXIC METALS INTO THEIR ROOTS. Cannabis is a large annual herb and has an unfortunate habit of absorbing a large number of heavy metals if they're present in the soil in which it's grown. Therefore, outdoor growers should have their soil routinely tested to find ways to remediate the grow medium if it's shown to contain above average levels of heavy metal toxicity. To that end, mycorrhizal fungi can be a powerful ally in this remediation process.

Many studies have been conducted to determine whether mycorrhizae can reduce heavy metal absorption by plants. One such study is called "Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation on plants growing on arsenic contaminated soil," published by the European Journal of Soil Biology and available for access on ScienceDirect.

Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation on plants growing on arsenic contaminated soil

According to this study, the presence of mycorrhizae "improved growth and arsenic accumulation" in some plant species, and "reduced only arsenic accumulation in plants but had no significant effect on plant growth," in others.

Finally, perhaps the most well-known benefit of mycorrhizae in soil is its ability to break down organic material and build soil, making it less prone to erosion and more nutritious for plant life.

Mycelium fungus under the microscope

How To Cultivate Mycorrhizal Fungi For Your Cannabis Plants

Harnessing the mysterious powers of mycorrhizae is a must for indoor and outdoor cannabis growers alike. There are several ways you can do this, ranging from extreme DIY methods, to totally store bought. The method you choose may vary depending on whether you're growing indoor or outdoor cannabis, the amount of time you have, and of course, your budget.

Grow Your Own Mycorrhizae

Most plant life found in nature grows with mycorrhizal fungi. As such, you can take naturally occurring mycorrhizae and use it to grow the organisms in your own soil. This method uses ingredients that can either be harvested for free, or that most cannabis growers will easily and cheaply be able to acquire, if not already have on hand. Unfortunately, it is also THE MOST TIME CONSUMING, taking over three months to complete. It is also the least sterile method of the three mentioned, and for that reason may not be ideal for indoor plants.

- Go to a forest or meadow that is relatively untouched by humans and has a wide variety of trees and bushes, excluding pine or oak trees.
- Clear about two feet of any undergrowth beneath the tree, and carefully dig about a foot deep.
- Place the soil from that depth in a bucket or pot. Do this from a variety of trees and shrubs for best results; they can all be stored together.
- Mix your mycorrhizae soil samples with one part vermiculite, one part coir peat, and one part compost.
- Be sure to use a compost without added fertilizer, and don’t add any fertilizer as it can hinder, or even halt the growth of mycorrhizal fungi.
- No additional fertilizer should be used in the mycorrhizae cultivation process for this reason.
- Put the mixture into a large garden pot.
- Next, you’ll want to plant your host, or an annual plant that will help inoculate mycorrhizae in your soil. A good choice is a mix of grass seeds like wheat, corn, or better yet, bahiagrass, which is a well-studied mycorrhizae host, or allium seeds like onions, leeks or chives, and legume seeds such as alfalfa, clover or peas.
- Do not use spinach, sugar beet, lupine and members of the mustard family for your host seeds, as they're among annual plants that do not form a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizae.
- For best results, soak seeds for 10–12 hours before planting, and plant them close to one another.
- Alternate between types of seed as you plant to promote diversity.

Using this method, the mycorrhizae colony will reach maturity in three months. In order to force the fungus into a reproductive state 10 days before harvesting, cut the plants down to the stem and withhold all water. This will kill the plants, but encourage the mycorrhizae to release the spores.

After 10 days, the mycorrhizal fungi will be ready to harvest and use in your soil. Harvest the beneficial fungi by pulling the dead plants up by their roots, carefully pulling them into smaller pieces, and adding the root system, which has been fully "infected" by mycorrhiza, to your soil.

Compost Tea

Another way to promote mycorrhizae growth is to use a compost tea. Compost teas are a simpler, more sterile, quicker way to promote mycorrhizae growth than by growing your own. Purchasing all the ingredients and a compost tea brewer - whether homemade or pre-assembled - can get a bit pricey, however.

Compost teas promote the growth of fungus that resides in compost, and in this recipe, forest and garden soil. Compost teas can be formulated to promote the growth of either beneficial bacteria or fungi, depending on the plant you're growing. For cannabis, you'll want to promote fungi growth. The following recipe is meant for a five-gallon brewer and is optimal for encouraging fungi growth in soil.

Compost Tea Ingredients

1/4 cup worm castings
1/4 cup fungal-dominant compost
1/4 cup garden soil
1/4 cup forest soil
1.5 ounce of soluble, sulfur-free blackstrap molasses
1 ounce of soluble kelp
1 ounce humic acids
1 ounce fish hydrolysate
3 tablespoons rock dust, also known as rock powders or rock minerals

Make sure none of these ingredients contain any antibiotics or preservatives, as that will hurt the composting process.

Five-gallon compost tea brewers will be adequate for most home gardens. If you're building your own compost tea brewer, you'll need a food-safe five-gallon bucket, an air pump, an aerator device, and a 400-micron mesh bag. You can find tons of instructions online on how to build these. There's also the option of buying one premade, which does cost a bit more.


Fill your five-gallon compost brewer with dechlorinated water. Chlorine will kill all the beneficial microbes, so either use distilled water or reverse osmosis water.

Add the worm castings, fungal-dominated compost, garden soil and forest soil to the mesh bag, or straight into the water, depending on your brewer.

Wait until the water gets to room temperature, or if you're using a heater, until it gets to about 75 degrees F.

Add molasses, kelp, humic acids, fish hydrolysate, and rock dust to the water.

Wait 12–48 hours, depending on your brewer and method.

Strain the tea, or stir, depending on the method chosen.

As this compost tea is brewed specifically to promote root growth and build soil, you'll want to use it as a soil drench and not a foliar application. Apply it to plants immediately after it's done brewing.

If you would prefer to purchase a store-bought organic compost tea, Advanced Nutrients' Mother Earth Super Tea Organic OIM is the only compost tea on that market that's certified organic by the state of California.

The A-Tea: OIM Certified Organic Compost Tea Makes High-Value Plants Healthier & More Productive

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Pioppino Mushroom Contrls Blood Sugar

email from Real Mushrooms 9/9/2021


Improves sleep
Reduces stress
Improves Immune function


Boosts workouts
Manages fatigue
Increases energy

Lion's Mane

Improves mental clarity
Increases focus
Reduces brain fog


Real Mushrooms Reishi capsules 9/9/21 Order RM87847

$34.95 5s/158 Subscribe & Save (15%): $29.71 first time 25% discount $26/21

100% Pure Organic Reishi Mushroom Capsule Supplement

Made from 100% organic reishi mushrooms
Extracted with hot water and alcohol (dual extraction)
Made from Certified Organic mushrooms
Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan
>15% Beta-glucans, >4% Triterpenes
No added starch, mycelium, or grain of any kind
500mg capsules, 90 or 200 pills, 45 or 100 servings
Verified for quality at accredited 3rd party labs

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Stamets Reishi Capsules SKU NCGL30

$19.95 30 capsules

Reishi is the #1-selling nutraceutical mushroom species worldwide
Promotes cardiovascular system health*
Supports the body's natural ability to respond to stress*
Supports energy and stamina*
Overall wellness support*
Bio-digestible and bio-available; made from activated mycelium, not from indigestible fruitbodies and spores

Used for more than two millennia in Asia, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum s.l.) has been respectfully called the "mushroom of immortality." Reishi grows throughout the world, primarily on hardwood trees, and is well known for supporting general wellness and vitality.

Host Defense® Reishi Capsules use activated, freeze-dried, Certified Organic mycelium, with a full spectrumof constituents: polysaccharides(beta glucans, arabinoxylane, glucose, xylose, galactose and mannose), glycoproteins, ergosterols, triterpenoids and other myco-nutrients,which are essential for Supporting Natural Immunity.*

As a dietary supplement, take 2 capsules once per day. Can be taken with food or on an empty stomach or as recommended by your healthcare advisor. Keep out of reach of children.

Real Mushrooms

7 Medicinal Mushrooms and Their Health Benefits


Reishi’s adaptogenic benefits can assist the body in developing resilience to everyday stressors. It has a positive effect on the immune and metabolic systems and has been used traditionally in China as a longevity tonic.


Shiitake is a common culinary medicinal mushroom that contains minerals, B vitamins, and ergothioneine, an antioxidant-like compound believed to decrease free radical damage. Shiitake mushrooms also support key immune cells like Natural Killers cells.


Maitake and compounds derived from maitake can have a supportive effect on metabolic and immune health. Maitake is a unique mushroom with adaptogenic potential.


Turkey Tail is one of the most studied medicinal mushrooms worldwide. It's a known immune modulator used for people with a compromised immune system from certain chronic diseases or stress. It can also have a supportive effect on the microbiome due to its prebiotic potential.

ChagaMushroom the mushroom of immortality

Chaga – The Mushroom of Immortality, The King Of All Herbs

Chaga (inonotus obliquus) is a fungal parasite found on birch tree. You can easily recognize it because it looks similar to burnt-out rough bark. It grows in birch forests throughout Northern and Eastern Europe, Russia (especially in Siberia) and Korea. This mushroom is known remedy for thousands of years all over Eurasia. Because of its amazing health properties, it is also known as “Mushroom of Immortality” and the “Gift from God” among many Siberians.

Chaga has a unique relationship with the trees it grows on and the cold environment it lives in. Because of these factors, Chaga is being researched for its high anti-oxidant potential and unique compounds that interact with the immune system. Chaga was traditionally used to support gastrointestinal health and as a coffee substitute.

All of above in 5 Defenders Immune defense


Lion’s Mane Mushroom: The Mushroom for the Mind

Supports healthy brain function & neuron regeneration*

Lion’s Mane, or Hericium erinaceus, is a species of medicinal mushroom that is beautiful in appearance, it has long cascading shaggy spines resembling a waterfall. Lion’s Mane grows on the trunks of hardwood trees in Northern forests and has been used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for millennia and has become a well-established candidate in promoting positive cognitive function.

Primary Reishi Mushroom Medicinal Benefits: Sleep aid and potent immunomodulator*

Much of the polysaccharides in reishi mushroom are associated with immune functions, and if taken over time can significantly support the immune system*. It is also known to improve sleep, reduce stress and fatigue*.

Reishi or Ganoderma lingzhi, has been recorded for its use for around 2000 years. Most notably used in China by Taoist monks to promote calmness, as well as enhance their meditative practices. It has even been used by Chinese royalty who sought longevity and held Reishi or “the mushroom of immortality” in high esteem. Reishi was listed the most cherished among the superior herbs, that are considered to prolong life, prevent aging, boost qi, and make the body light

Primary Cordyceps Mushroom Medicinal Benefits: Improves lung capacity and increases energy

The Cordyceps mushroom is an incredible energy-boosting fungi because of its ability to increase ATP production through pre-cursor compounds like adenosine and cordycepin. ATP is the compound that gives our cells energy. This is why Cordyceps is recommended when it comes to physical performance*. In TCM, Cordyceps is also used for lung-related issues like asthma or even seasonal allergies*.

Cordyceps has been described as a treasure in old Chinese medical books and Tibetan medicine. With hundreds of different species, it is a parasitic fungi that prey on insects. Traditional healers have recommended the medicinal fungus as a powerful tonic because it improves energy, appetite, stamina and endurance [4]. The most well known species of cordyceps is Cordyceps sinensis; the most expensive mushroom in the world costing over $20,000 per kilogram, sold almost exclusively in Asia. It is a rare combination of a caterpillar and a mushroom and found at high altitudes in the Himilayan Plateau.

For many years, the Chinese weren’t able to cultivate this mushroom, fueling an increasing demand on a small supply. Now, with this particular fungus, it is very important to be aware of what you are consuming because wild Cordyceps sinensis rarely make it to the North American market, yet companies are still advertising Cordyceps sinensis on their mushroom supplements. If a cordyceps product is grown in North America, it is almost certainly myceliated grain. High amount of grain means low amount of mycelium, and decreased beta-glucans, which are the beneficial polysaccharides found in the cell wall.

Luckily, there is one type of Cordyceps species that can be cultivated commercially to produce a mushroom (fruiting body), and that is Cordyceps militaris. If you would like to dive deeper into the realm of this fungi, we have written an engaging and helpful guide about cordyceps supplements to help you be informed.

Cordyceps Mushrooms: Supplement Types & Health Benefits

Daniel Winkler Article

It’s true, wild Cordyceps sinensis (shown below) is not in 99.9% of Cordyceps supplements because of its exceptionally high price tag. In fact, wild Cordyceps sinensis costs over $20,000 per kilogram, making it the most expensive mushroom in the world. It is almost exclusively sold in Asia and rarely makes it into the North American market.

There are 3 types of Cordyceps supplements that are commonly found on the market as replacements for the extravagantly-priced Cordyceps sinensis:

Cordyceps CS-4
Cordyceps Myceliated Grain
Extract of Cordyceps Mushrooms (Militaris)

Cordyceps Cs-4

In the 1980s, when wild Cordyceps sinensis was gaining in popularity and the price tag kept climbing, scientists in China set out to cultivate this fungus. Many tried and many failed. Still to this day, there is no affordable cultivated version of this mushroom. What the scientists did end up with are Cordyceps anamorphs, mycelium cultures that are unable to produce a mushroom (fruiting body).

These anamorphs were grown in a liquid growth medium to create mass amounts of pure mycelium. This process is known as liquid culture mycelium, or liquid fermentation, and involves growing the mycelium in a liquid solution of nutrients that can then be removed, leaving you with pure mycelium. Most mycelium research is based on liquid fermentation mycelium.

These anamorphs were studied extensively and found to produce similar results to wild Cordyceps sinensis. This ended up turning into what is now known as Cordyceps Cs-4. After undergoing clinical trials in China, the Chinese government approved its use in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) hospitals and it is now recognized as a safe natural product in China.

Other Cs-4 products may also be labeled as Paecilomyces hepiali, which is an anamorph form of Cordyceps sinensis.

Cordyceps Myceliated Grain

Due to the fact that it is not economical to grow mushrooms in North America for supplement use, if a Cordyceps product is grown in North America, it is almost certainly Cordyceps myceliated grain.

Myceliated grain can also go by mycelium on grain (MOG), mycelium biomass, or grain spawn.

Myceliated grain products are typically labeled as Cordyceps sinensis or Cordyceps militaris.

Instead of growing the mycelium in liquid like what is used for Cordyceps Cs-4, the mycelium is instead grown in a plastic bag containing sterilized grain. This can also be referred to as solid-state fermentation.

The issue here is that unlike being in liquid, the mycelium cannot be separated from the grain, so the grain ends up in the final product. This reduces the volume of desirable Cordyceps compounds found in the final supplement product.

Extract of Cordyceps Mushrooms (Militaris)

There is currently one type of Cordyceps species that can be commercially cultivated at scale to produce a mushroom (fruiting body), and it is becoming quite popular. This is Cordyceps militaris. By using Cordyceps militaris, for the first time, true Cordyceps mushroom extracts can be made.

Since they are derived from the mushroom (versus the mycelium), there are much higher levels of the important beta-glucans.

Our Cordyceps-M product, which is extracted exclusively from organic Cordyceps militaris mushrooms, has greater than 25% beta-glucans. Compare that to Cs-4, which typically has less than 10% beta-glucans, and Cordyceps mycelium on grain, which typically has 1-3% beta-glucans.

As seen from the table above, Cordyceps militaris has up to 90 times more cordycepin (column “Co”) when compared with the wild Cordyceps sinensis. Cs-4 would likely have even less cordycepin than wild Cordyceps sinensis, and Cordyceps mycelium on grain would have almost no cordycepin due to the low amount of mycelium present.

Best Ways to Include Cordyceps Medicinal Mushrooms in Your Daily Life

Real Mushrooms has created an organic Cordyceps militaris extract, and this supplement has been verified for quality by 3rd party labs for quality. Our supplement contains a bountiful amount of beta-D-glucans and cordycepin, and it contains NO starch. It is recommended that adults take ½-1 tsp or up to 2gms per day over a long period of time.

Chaga Mushroom: The Mushroom that’s not a Mushroom

Primary Chaga Mushroom Medicinal Benefits: Boosts digestion and clears/protects skin

Chaga is rich in antioxidants, and supports immune function, liver health, brain health and increases longevity [5]*.

Chaga or Inonotus obliquus, which is commonly referred to as a mushroom is actually a highly prized sclerotium or woody canker that grows in the colder regions of the Northern Hemisphere on birch trees. First medicinal uses seem to have come out of Russia around the 16th century when used as a tea to treat stomach ailments*. After 1966, Chaga gained more exposure after its healing powers were written about in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book, Cancer Ward. As Chaga grows primarily on birch trees and much of the sclerotium itself is actually wood fiber and not mycelium, many medicinal compounds from birch like betulin and betulinic acid end up in the sclerotium. The outer black layer on the canker contains high amounts of melanin which can be beneficial for our skin*.

Until recently Chaga could not be cultivated but now in Finland they are inoculating birch trees with this fungus. Lab cultivated Chaga does not develop in to sclerotium and as it does not grow on birch but on grain, it does not contain the important medicinal compounds that come from birch.

Our Siberian Chaga extract is wild-harvested from Russia. Our medicinal mushroom supplements are tested by 3rd party laboratories for the active compounds beta-D-glucans that are quintessential nutrients for the immune system. We care deeply about sourcing the best quality mushrooms that contain the highest concentration of beneficial compounds to ensure that your health is supported over long term use. It is recommended that adults take two capsules of our organic Chaga daily. These can be taken at any time during the day, and used over an extended period of time to notice the effects.

Turkey Tail Mushroom: The Mushroom of Multiple Colors


Primary Turkey Tail Mushroom Medicinal Benefit: Boosts immune system function

Turkey tail improves immune function by stimulating cytokine production, increasing natural killer cells and other immune-boosting functions*.

Turkey Tail mushroom, or Trametes Versicolor, is one of the most well-researched medicinal mushrooms. It grows on dead logs worldwide, and receives its name because its rings of brown and tan look like the tail feathers of a turkey. In TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine) turkey tail has been used for treating lung disease, and in Japan, the drug PSK, which is derived from turkey tail has been used to strengthen the immune system when given with standard cancer treatment [6]*. China also has a similar drug called PSP. Turkey tail contains one of the highest amounts of beta-glucans of all mushrooms to help keep our immune systems healthy when used over an extended period of time [7]*.

Shiitake Mushroom: The Fragrant Mushroom


Primary Shiitake Mushroom Medicinal Benefit: Improves cardiovascular health

Shiitake mushroom is great for immunity, liver function, and supports the cardiovascular system*.

Shiitake mushrooms are the most popular mushrooms in the world and have a meaty and versatile flavor, hence why they’ve been used as a food source in Asia for hundreds of years. In China, shiitake is called Xiang gu (??), which translates to “fragrant mushroom.” During the Ming Dynasty in China, shiitake was deemed “the elixir of life”. They’re great to cook with, and are also loaded with B-vitamins, helping to control blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation in the body. Shiitake has been cultivated in Japan for centuries, and has received its name from shii trees (related to beech and oak) they’re found growing on. Shiitake has a long been used as both a food and a supplement in TCM, as it is thought to boost longevity and improve circulation*. Lentinan, a polysaccharide in shiitake mushrooms, has shown great promise as an immunotherapy agent [8]*. Research has also discovered a compound in shiitake, eritadenine, that has lowered cholesterol in some studies [9]*.

Maitake Mushroom: The Dancing Mushroom - Species name: Grifola frondosa


Primary Maitake Mushroom Medicinal Benefits: Helps to regulate blood pressure and supports immune function

Maitake mushrooms are known to help regulate our immune systems by stimulating the immune system’s lymphocytes such as natural killer cells and t-helper cells*.

Maitake, Grifola frondosa is commonly known as Hen of the Woods or the Dancing Mushroom. It is plentiful in the deciduous forests of North America and Japan. It is an edible mushroom with an earthy flavour. TCM has used this mushroom for its support on the immune system. The mushroom (fruiting body) contains polysaccharides such as beta-glucans, which have been linked to healthy cell growth and turnover*.

Maitake became quite famous in the 1990’s after Dr. Hiroaki Nanba, a pharmacologist out of Japan at Kobe Pharmaceutical University, began isolating and testing different polysaccharide fractions from Maitake. Many of these fractions were quite potent immunomodulating agents.

What is Mycelium?

Mycelium is the root system of the mushroom, it is the precursor to the fruiting body we simply know as a mushroom. Mycelium and mushrooms are not synonymous. The key active compounds found in medicinal mushrooms that research has linked to health benefits are: beta-D-glucans, triterpenoids, and ergosterol.

Beta-D-glucans have been identified as primary sources of medicinal activity; they are a naturally occurring structural component of the cell walls of mushrooms that can activate or potentiate both innate and adaptive immunity.

Triterpenoids play a complementary role with beta-glucans in immune system activation; primary activities include: liver protection, antioxidant activity, reduced histamine response and reduced inflammation.

Furthermore, a sterol called ergosterol is present in all fungi and it has recently been discovered to also have immunomodulating and antioxidant properties. Ergosterol in fungi is similar to cholesterol in humans.

As myriads of mushroom benefits for health spark global interest, Real Mushrooms prides itself on only using the fruiting body in our medicinal mushroom supplements to ensure the highest quality with the most benefits for optimal health.

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Ergothioneine is an amino acid and antioxidant primarily found throughout the body that we can only obtain through food, with mushrooms and fungi being the highest source.

Shiitake and Oyster mushroom, apart from containing beneficial beta-glucans, contain some of the highest amounts of ergothioneine.

Studies suggest that as we age, ergothioneine levels in the body decrease and supplementing with ergothioneine could help mitigate age related ailments.

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Ergothioneine: Unparalleled Health Benefits. detoxlab

Ergothioneine is a remarkable antioxidant with unparalleled health-promoting benefits. Discovered in 1909, ergothioneine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is synthesized only by mushrooms and by fungi and mycobacteria in the soil. Plants can take up ergothioneine through their roots by association with fungi in soils where there are healthy fungal communities. In turn, grazing animals that consume these plants can absorb ergothioneine.

Humans can obtain ergothioneine solely from their diet from the consumption of mushrooms, plants and meat that contains ergothioneine. Mushrooms are particularly rich sources of ergothioneine (Dubost 2007). Research at Penn State University has shown that when humans are fed mushroom powder with known amounts of ergothioneine, it showed up in the blood very quickly. Ergothioneine is found in all human tissues but is preferentially distributed to organ systems and cell organelles that are exposed to high levels of oxidative stress such as the liver, kidney, red blood cells and eye tissue.

Within cells, ergothioneine is highly concentrated in the plasma membrane and mitochondria. There is increasing recognition of the important role of ergothioneine in human physiology and the prevention of diseases, including those that affect the immune, reproductive and central nervous systems. Ergothioneine functions as a "master antioxidant" in our bodies where it is transported to cells throughout the body to fight damage and death from oxidative stress and toxic free radicals .

Ergothioneine is unique in that it is the only currently known dietary substance that has a specific gene and transport system - the Ergothioneine Transporter (ETT). ETT is a unique transport system that enables ergothioneine to be actively transported across the cell membrane and into the cell. The ergothioneine transporter gene expresses for this amino acid when inflammation occurs. Prof. Dr. Dirk Grundemann, University of Cologne, Germany, a discoverer of the Ergothioneine Transporter (ETT) states in a published study, "supplementation of ergothoneine to correct a dietary deficit could provide a new therapeutic strategy for chronic inflammatory diseases." (Grigat 2007). More recently Dr. Solomon Snyder, Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine published an article titled “The Unusual Amino Acid L-Ergothioneine is a Physiologic Cytoprotectant”. In the review Dr. Snyder states: "because of its dietary origin and the toxicity associated with its depletion, ergothioneine may represent a new vitamin whose physiologic role includes antioxidant cytoprotection."

Ergothioneine is also unique in that it has a very long half-life in the body - around 30 days as compared to the 30 seconds to 30 minutes of many antioxidants. Ergothioneine is also unusual in regards to being very stable to heat and acidity. An antioxidant study on horses was conducted in which the antioxidant potential of blood samples taken after 30 days of supplementation with a medicinal mushroom powder blend were quantified and compared with pre-supplementation blood levels. To evaluate the antioxidant status of the blood samples, the Acute Oxidative Potential (AOP-490™) assay was used. This assay represents the combined actions of all antioxidants in a living body better than the more popular ORAC assay that only measures antioxidant activity against the peroxyl radical in a test tube. The mean increase in the antioxidant status in the blood of the 14 horses tested was 16.45%.

In a previous initial human trial, several individuals showed an increase in their antioxidant potential after only 2 weeks of receiving the mushroom blend supplement fortified with a small amount of synthetic LE (1 mg LE/2 g) at a daily dose of 2 grams per day.

The health-promoting benefits of LE include:

• Reduction of oxidative stress by efficient "scavenging & quenching" harmful free radicals;

• Conservation and maintenance of the levels of other more transitory antioxidants such as Vitamins E, Vitamin C and glutathione;

• Increased availability of cellular energy sources;

• Increased metabolic respiration and oxidation of fat;

• Protection of mitochondria from oxidative damage by superoxide that is physiologically generated by mitochondrial metabolism;

• Reduction of the damaging effects of environmental UV rays;

• Protection against the effects of neurotoxins believed to have a role in cognitive decline.

• Maintenance of system homeostasis as a regulator or effector

• Protection of haemoglobin in red blood cells

• Chelation of heavy metals for removal from the body

The introduction of modern agricultural practices over the past century such as the heavy use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, soil fumigants and extensive soil tillage has had dramatic impacts on the fungal communities in our soils. The effect has been a steady depletion and even eradication of the soil fungi and mycobacteria that can synthesize ergothioneine for uptake by plants, thus reducing the total amount of ergothioneine in food supply chains.

At the same time, changes in our dietary habits and over-consumption of highly processed foods may be further accelerating deficiencies of ergothioneine in our diet. It is likely that the dramatic increases we are seeing in debilitating diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and neurodegenerative conditions may be due in part to deficiencies of ergothioneine in our diets.

This hypothesis is supported by human blood testing conducted in the late 1920s (Salt 1931) that showed “normal” ergothioneine levels nearly double those found by researchers at Pennsylvania State University in 2010 (Weigand-Heller 2012) The increased consumption of mushroom products is a viable strategy to compensate for the decreasing amounts of ergothioneine in our foods. Mushrooms are rich sources of not only ergothioneine but also many other important bioactive antioxidants such selenomethionine, selenium, polyphenols and glutathione. This combination of several antioxidants in a single dietary supplement may well provide synergistic benefits beyond that provided by the individual components in isolation. – SF

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mostly skin

Chaga Mushrooms

Chaga Mushroom Benefits: A Science, Health, & Supplement Guide. real

Chaga is NOT actually a mushroom.

Chaga is actually a canker: a compact mass of hardened wood lignans and fungal mycelium. So what is the big deal about a tree canker that forms from a parasite?

Chaga's benefits for health have been touted for centuries, and scientific methods can now confirm the varied positive impacts this adaptogenic fungus can have on the body.

Among the most highly revered medicinal mushrooms is chaga (Inonotus obliquus (Fr.) Pilát), and we will explore all the reasons why in this article.

What Is the Chaga Mushroom?

What we call chaga is the common name for a sterile conk or canker that forms after a hardwood tree (usually birch) has been infected by the parasitic fungus Inonotus obliquus (or I. obliquus).

As a parasite, I. obliquus has a one-sided relationship with its host tree. Its enzymes cause the simultaneous decay of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin (the three main biological constituents that make up the wood of trees) from the heartwood of the living host. The breakdown of the heartwood weakens the tree's infrastructure, allowing for the first traces of what we call “chaga” to protrude from within the tree.

Chaga is a sclerotium: a compact mass of hardened wood lignans and fungal mycelium (the fungal root structure).

Chaga is a parasitic fungus. It feeds off its host tree and develops into a scab-like protruding formation with remarkable medicinal properties.

Why Chaga Mushroom Health Benefits are So Diverse

The chemical composition of chaga was first studied by German-born chemist and pharmacist Johann Georg Noel Dragendorff in 1864. Since then, scientific analyses have revealed a diverse array of over 200 different bioactive metabolites. Many of these can support human health, including:

Polysaccharides, including beta-glucans
Benzoic acid derivatives
Ergosterol and ergosterol peroxide

Of these, the polysaccharides are the most active compounds in chaga.

Polysaccharides (Including Beta-Glucans)

Polysaccharides are large molecules made up of many simple sugars (monosaccharides). The most important polysaccharides found in chaga are the (1>3)(1>6)beta-D-glucans. Beta-glucans from functional mushrooms like chaga provide unique opportunities for the discovery and development of new therapeutic agents. In recent years, beta-glucans have received much attention due to their many health benefits, such as immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, and antioxidative activities (2).


Melanin is a skin pigment in mammalian skin, hair, eyes, ears, and the nervous system. It possesses a broad spectrum of activities, including protection against UV radiation and oxidants.

In particular, fungal melanin has powerful antioxidant and DNA-protective properties studied in vitro and in vivo animal studies. Melanin in wood ear, a black-colored mushroom, protected 80% of mice from a lethal dose of radiation in one study (3). Chaga contains high levels of melanin, giving it potential for the impacts of radiation-induced damages in these demographics.


Chaga mushroom benefits for health can also be traced to its various types of triterpenes. Two of the most notable are betulinic acid and its precursor, betulin.

Betulin and betulinic acid are triterpenes in the bark of the birch trees where chaga grows. Betulinic acid has demonstrated antioxidant, anti-ulcer, anti-gastritis, and immunomodulatory effects (1).

Like betulin and betulinic acid, inotodiol is a triterpenoid found only in chaga. Inotodiol has also shown immunomodulatory and antioxidant effects (5,6).

The Top 9 Chaga Mushroom Benefits

When studying the history and traditional uses of chaga, it seems as if the fungus was used for just about every type of ailment.

1. Chaga Provides an Antioxidant Boost

Humans, like many other organisms, need oxygen to live. Without it, mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, would be unable to produce chemical energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) needed to fuel the biological processes in your body. A process called oxidative phosphorylation produces ATP.

While oxidative phosphorylation is an essential process, it also produces cell-damaging free radicals. Various factors like stress, diet and environmental exposure can result in a surplus of free radicals compared to the anti-oxidants that would combat them. This imbalance is referred to as "oxidative stress."

Severe oxidative stress can lead to damage to components of the cell (including DNA), cell death (also known as inappropriate apoptosis), and disruptions in cellular signaling. Oxidative stress can lead to premature aging and the development of many age-related ailments and conditions.

Chaga produces an impressive array of metabolites capable of acting as potent free radical scavengers. The metabolites in chaga mushroom benefits DNA health by protecting it from oxidative stress damage. One study demonstrated that human blood cells pretreated with chaga mushroom extracts before being treated with the free radical H2O2 showed 40% less DNA damage than those that weren’t pretreated (7).

Chaga ORAC Value

Chaga is very high on the ORAC scale, which is a measurement of antioxidant power. In fact, some websites claim that Chaga is the highest of any food. However, ORAC values came under scrutiny in 2012, when the USDA removed their ORAC Food Database citing that the test did not directly correlate to health benefits (ie. higher is not necessarily better) and that the ORAC values were being misused by food and supplement ingredient suppliers to promote their products.

ORAC has ‘ongoing value’, says expert, as USDA removes online database

Another abbreviation you may have seen while searching for antioxidants is SOD, which stands for superoxide dismutase. SODs are enzymes that form the first line of antioxidant defense against damage caused by free radicals. There is some concern that oral administration of SODs is not effective because they are degraded before they can get absorbed into the bloodstream. Still, there have been studies demonstrating the efficacy of oral SOD supplementation (8-10).

Chaga is a source of trace minerals like zinc, copper, iron, and manganese, which can stimulate the production of SODs.

2. Chaga Aids in Digestion

Chaga has been revered in folk medicine for centuries to encourage gastrointestinal health and digestive comfort. Modern research confirms that chaga mushroom benefits include gastroprotective properties. It demonstrated the capacity to help regulate the gut microbiota in certain studies.

Alcohol extracts of chaga helped protect the integrity of the stomach wall when given to rats at 200 mg/kg (11). In another study, mice were fed alcohol chaga extracts at 50 and 100 mg/kg body weight. "{The results showed that by regulating the release of cytokines, chaga supported the health of the colonic mucosa" (12).

The antioxidant activity of polysaccharides in chaga supported pancreatic health and regulated gut microbiota composition and diversity in mice studies (13,14).

3. Chaga and Inflammation

Inflammation is the immune system’s primary response to a variety of triggers, such as toxic agents and foreign invaders. It is also part of the body's natural healing process. Your body releases inflammatory chemicals to help mitigate cell damage and to restore tissue homeostasis.

In short, healthy inflammation response is your friend. Interrupted or prolonged inflammation cascades can create body damage and disease.

The antioxidant range in the chaga mushroom benefits the body by supporting a healthy inflammation response. Chaga appears to modulate the release of certain cytokines involved in inflammation (15). It also appears to be an inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) and COX-2 in rats, which may explain its ability to alleviate temporary discomfort (15,16).

4. Chaga is an Adaptogen

You may have read or heard the term "adaptogen" or biological response modifier (BRM) in reference to certain herbs and functional mushrooms. As the name implies, BRMs are substances that can modulate the immune system’s response, by either turning it up or down.

Adaptogenic Mushrooms: 4 Experts Discuss the Benefits of Fungi

An adaptogen is a type of BRM that must meet three criteria (17):

• Its effect must be general and must be able to assist the body in handling a wide range of stressors

• It must help maintain the body's homeostasis

• It should not harm the normal functions of the body

Essentially, adaptogens help your body adapt to stress and restore balance. With its rich polysaccharide content, chaga is considered an adaptogen.

Chaga as an Immune System Adaptogen

While the immune system is designed to protect the body against foreign invaders, it can create discharge symptoms. Such a response can affect the eyes, sinuses, and lungs, usually showing up as mucus, pain, or inflammation.

Allergies aren't always harmless though. Some individuals may experience anaphylactic shock, a severe, and sometimes a life-threatening allergic reaction.

As an adaptogen, chaga mushroom benefits overactive immune systems in certain demographics by helping to balance it.

Initidiol, a triterpenoid unique to chaga, acts as a mast cell stabilizer and can support eye and nasal comfort in mouse models (18). Chaga can promote the secretion of certain cytokines to modulate immune responses in mice (19). A new animal study also showed that chaga mushroom extracts prevented chemically-induced immune system overreactions, demonstrating its potential as a useful functional food (20).

Studies have shown that the active compounds in chaga may have selective activity against many types of malignant cells, specifically in relation to inhibition of p38 kinase and ERK1/2 pathways (21-22,62). ?

5. Chaga Balances Blood Sugar

Insulin is the hormone responsible for moving glucose in the bloodstream into your muscle and fat cells to be stored for energy production.

Healthy blood sugar levels are linked to heart, blood vessel, nerve, kidney, skin, and brain health (23).

Multiple animal studies suggest that chaga may be able to support balanced blood sugar levels (24-26). In one study, investigators found that mice fed dry matter chaga extract for 3 weeks were better able to maintain healthy blood glucose levels as well as total cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, "bad cholesterol") levels.

Triglyceride and cholesterol imbalances are almost always tied to metabolic health in relation to insulin sensitivity and glucose management. Most notably, the research team found that feeding chaga supported healthy pancreatic tissue in the mice (the pancreas is the organ that secretes insulin) (26).

A follow-up study confirmed these effects on blood sugar and cholesterol. Mice treated with either 30 or 60 mg/kg body weight of chaga ethanol extract for 21 days had similar results as in the first study (27).

In another animal study, rats were administered either polysaccharides extracted from chaga (at doses of 10, 20, and 30 mg/kg) or saline (which acted as a placebo) for 6 weeks. At the end of the study, the rats given chaga were better able to maintain blood glucose levels within healthy limits than the rats given saline, and their pancreatic beta-cells were also healthier (24).

The chaga mushroom benefits for balancing blood sugar may be attributed to the inhibition of an enzyme (alpha-glucosidase) that breaks down starch by its polysaccharides. Blocking this enzyme helps slow down glucose absorption in the digestive organs (28).

Research performed in vitro showed the polysaccharides in chaga inhibit this enzyme, demonstrating chaga warrants more research into its effects on blood glucose modulation (25). More clinical data from human studies is needed to advance our understanding of chaga’s relationship with blood sugar.

6. Chaga Helps with Muscle Fatigue

The polysaccharides in chaga mushroom continue to surprise scientists with their benefits. Chaga is an adaptogen: it has the capacity to support allostasis in your entire body, potentially including your energy levels and muscle endurance.

An animal study showed that CHAGA MAY HELP INCREASE EXERCISE ENDURANCE. Mice that were given chaga extracts for 14 days (at 0, 100, 200 and 300 mg/kg) were able to swim for a longer period of time than those given distilled water. Scientists noted that the mice given chaga also had significantly more glycogen — the predominant storage form of glucose for energy production — in their liver and muscles. Glycogen storage directly affects exercise endurance, and the results of this study suggest that chaga might help increase the time before glycogen is depleted (29).

Chaga polysaccharides also greatly reduced blood lactate levels in the mice. Muscles produce high levels of lactate during high-intensity exercise, which contributes to fatigue. Therefore, removing lactate quickly is beneficial to prevent or delay fatigue (29).

For more information on how chaga and other healthy mushrooms can help support exercise endurance, read our article, Stimulant-Free Pre-Workout & Post-Workout Mushroom Supplements

7. Chaga Mushroom Benefits the Immune System

As a folk remedy, chaga extracts are one of the fungi that can be used to enhance immune system function. This is one of the most well-studied of the chaga mushroom benefits for health. Scientists attribute this benefit to the 15 to 20 years the parasitic fungus spends in the forest atmosphere. Chaga must develop a complex defense system against environmental stressors such as plant and insect toxins as it grows (30).

The immune-supporting activity is also believed to be due to the diverse constituents found in chaga, like betulin, hispolon, hispidin, lupeol, and mycosterols.

BETULINIC ACID, WHICH IS UNIQUE TO CHAGA, and chaga’s other bio-compounds are being investigated by the scientific community as potential agents to protect the body against a variety of foreign invaders (30–35).

8. Chaga Mushroom Benefits for Skin

Beta-glucans and betulinic acid in chaga may help slow down signs of aging in your skin.

Chaga infusions can help comfort irritated skin and reduce redness and dryness. A case study of 50 people found that after taking chaga for 9 to 12 weeks, individuals experienced improved skin health, as demonstrated by increased skin comfort, smoothness, and moisturization (36).

Melanin also plays an important role in skin health. Melanin, like that found in chaga, is thought to protect human skin against DNA damage by absorbing UV radiation. One in vitro study found that melanin increased the sun protection factor (SPF) of gel sunscreens (37). Another found that melanin functions as a free radical scavenger, which can also help keep your skin looking younger for longer (38).

9. Chaga Supports Healthy Brain Functioning

Oxidative stress is a major contributor to mild memory problems associated with aging.

A team of researchers investigated if chaga had any protective effects in mice with chemically-induced cognitive decline. They found that mice given chaga for 7 days had significantly improved learning and memory compared to those that did not receive the fungus (39).

Chaga Dosage

The appropriate dose of chaga depends on a variety of factors, including your health, age, the quality of the extract, goals etc. The dosage that works for one person may not work for you.

The typical dosage is 250 to 500 mg of an 8:1 extract 2 to 3 times a day (4). One animal study used 6 mg/kg of chaga extract per day (the equivalent of 408 mg for a 150-pound person) (40).

That being said, we highly recommend that you start with small doses of chaga and increase slowly over time to the recommended dose.

Chaga Safety

Chaga mushroom supplements are generally well tolerated with few reported side effects. However, it is important to remember that the studies demonstrating chaga mushroom benefits were performed on cells or animals.

There have been no randomized human clinical studies to evaluate the safety of chaga. However, There is strong historical evidence of use in traditional medicine. Therefore, you should consult a health practitioner prior to taking chaga if you have any medical conditions.

Individuals with bleeding disorders or those on anticoagulants (BLOOD-THINNING MEDICATIONS) should exercise caution when considering chaga supplements. The polysaccharides and other substances found in chaga are known to affect blood circulation. This could pose an issue when combined with anticoagulants, depending on the chaga dose.

Chaga may affect blood glucose levels. Therefore, monitor your blood sugar levels when supplementing with it.

Oxalates in Chaga

One safety concern stems from the fact that chaga contains oxalates. Some individuals may develop kidney stones from eating a diet high in oxalates (41).

In one published case, a 72-year-old Japanese woman consumed 4 to 5 teaspoons of chaga mushroom powder per day for 6 months (a dose far higher than any recommended by Real Mushrooms). It is also unclear what source her chaga powder was from, whether it was contaminated, and if it was an extract. She developed oxalate nephropathy and eventually irreversible renal failure (42).

However, following the guidelines for dosage on Real Mushrooms’ chaga extract powder or chaga capsules will help to avoid over-consumption.

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Research suggests that chaga contains anywhere from 2-12% of oxalates depending on the source. Within the classification of oxalates there are two forms: soluble and insoluble. Chaga has both forms. Soluble oxalates are absorbed into the blood and need processing by the kidneys. Insoluble oxalates are bound to minerals and don’t get absorbed or processed by the kidneys (43). Oxalates are higher in a number of common foods such as chocolate, grains, nuts and certain greens (rhubarb, chard, beet tops).

Mushrooms grown with high heavy metal substrates may form calcium oxalates at a higher rate, which is of more concern for kidney stone formers (44). Real Mushrooms chaga is wild harvested and is tested for heavy metals along with other rigorous quality control measures. Wild harvested chaga has fewer oxalates than cultivated chaga. Because Real Mushrooms powder and capsules of chaga are extracts versus powder, this also lowers their oxalate content.

Those with previous kidney stones, those with a strong antibiotic history, low hydration or calcium status should speak with a professional before using chaga.

Chaga Side Effects

There are no known side effects of chaga. Still, we highly recommend consulting a health practitioner before taking chaga mushroom supplements if you have any health concerns.


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Send comments to, Colby Glass, MLIS, Professor Emeritus