The word mushroom is used to refer to the aboveground or reproductive portion of any one of thousands of varieties of fungus; it may or may not have a stem, and is characterized by a cap or umbrella under which are located gills which bear spores. Mushrooms can be edible or poisonous - the latter often colloquially called toadstools - and some poisonous varieties are eaten for their hallucinogenic properties. As Everything2 has enough information already on these so-called magic mushrooms, I will confine my discussion here to mushrooms as a food source.

Thought to have been cultivated since early Greek and Roman times, there are today thousands of varieties of wild and cultivated edible mushrooms that run the gamut of shape, size, and colour.

Perhaps the most common is the cultivated white or button mushroom. Pale in colour with a closed cap, they should be bought only if smooth and unblemished; if bruised or with soft spots or open gills, they are past their prime. The smallest ones have the mildest flavour. A close relative is the cream-coloured cremini mushroom, slightly firmer and more flavourful; if left to mature until the cap is large and the gills are open, cremini become portobello mushrooms, delightfully flavourful and earthy. Other popular mushrooms - many of which grow wild in their homes but are now cultivated for the kitchen abroad - include the shiitake, a flavourful Japanese variety that grows on woody surfaces; maitake and matsutake, Japanese wild mushrooms now cultivated; oyster mushroom, a delicate fan-shaped variety that grows in clumps; the tasty porcini, often sold dried; tiny enoki mushrooms that grow in clusters; and the mysterious straw mushrooms that look kind of like a quail's egg when cleaned.

Wild mushrooms should be picked with great caution because many varieties are poisonous, and not in that wonderful stoned way, but in a death-inducing way. Besides the ones already mentioned, wild varieties include the trumpet-shaped chanterelle, the brain-shaped morel, and the round puffball.

Mushrooms can be sold fresh, canned, or dried. If canned, rinse in warm water first to remove some of the tinny taste. If dried, reconstitute by pouring boiling water over and letting soak till soft.

Fresh mushrooms will keep longest if stored in a paper bag - plastic makes them sweat - or if placed in a single layer on a paper towel and covered with a damp paper towel; in either case, store in the fridge. The end of the stem is generally cut off and discarded before cooking, and because many varieties have a tough stem (e.g. shiitake), it is often discarded altogether. Before using mushrooms, wipe them with a damp paper towel or, if they're really dirty, rinse them in cold water and dry them, but don't soak them as they will absorb water and become mushy. Mushrooms are an amazingly versatile food and can be prepared in practically any way imagineable, so eat 'em, because they're delicious. Yay mushrooms!

The world’s largest mushroom is a fungus called Armillaria Ostoyae , or the Honey Mushroom that has sprawled out to cover a massive area. It grows in the Malheur National Forest which is located in the Blue Mountains, Oregon. It presently covers around 1,220 acres.

The world’s largest mushroom sculpture is located in Alberta, Canada. It is a large scale model of the Mushroom of the genus tricholoma uspale that grows naturally in the area. It is twenty feet high and has a 15 foot diameter. It weighs over 18,000 lbs.

The world’s largest mushroom producing country is The People’s Republic of China.

The world’s largest mushroom producing facility is Creekside Mushrooms LTD. They are the only underground mushroom producing facility in the USA and employs over 500 local people to help it produce a huge variety of products.

The world’s largest mushroom spore and live culture collection is held by the Florida Mycology Research Center (FMRC).

The world’s largest mushroom gun was built by the ex-dictator of Iraq; Saddam Hussein. (At least according to Larry’s Look at Life. (

Repeated hammer blows against a wooden or metal shaft, pole, stake, handle, or other similarly shaped object can result in a specific type of deformation called mushrooming. Mushrooming is so called because the resulting shape resembles the familiar cap of a mushroom fungus sporophore.

When a hammer strikes the end of a shaft, a great deal of force is transferred through the shaft to whatever object is at the other end of it. The transfer of force is not perfect, and some of the force is absorbed by the shaft as it begins to deform at the impact site. Since the rigid shaft is strongest in the direct line of force, very little deformation can occur in this direction. Instead, the shaft is deformed radially outward as the material spreads in any direction it can. The result is that the end of the shaft develops a shape not unlike the top of a mushroom.

In many cases (chisels, fence posts) this deformation is normal and expected, and ultimately doesn't hurt the functionality of the shaft in question. However when dealing a bolt, screw, pin, or other fastener which is intended to fit through a hole, mushrooming must be avoided or the fastener will no longer be able to be inserted or removed. Often this is forgotten when a stubborn or rusty bolt just won't pull out or a bearing won't come off its shaft, and an attempt is made to force it with a hammer. The resulting mushrooming will only make the problem worse as the expanded section will no longer fit through the hole at all. Mushrooming will also expand and deform the threads on bolts and threaded rods, rendering them useless for screwing into a nut or tapped hole.

Mushrooming can be removed by grinding the expanded end back down to its original diameter. Tools are more resistant to mushrooming if the dumb end is beveled.

This feature of mushrooming can of course be put to an advantage as well, for example as a cheap and permanent method of securing a metal label to something. First, two pins made of a soft metal are set in the object to be labeled. Then two holes are drilled in the label and set over the soft pins. By mushrooming the pins over the holes with a hammer, the label can be set in place permanently - the mushroomed ends of the pins are now too wide for the holes in the label.

Mush"room (?), n. [OE. muscheron, OF. mouscheron, F. mousseron; perhaps fr. mousse moss, of German origin. See Moss.]

1. Bot. (a)

An edible fungus (Agaricus campestris), having a white stalk which bears a convex or oven flattish expanded portion called the pileus. This is whitish and silky or somewhat scaly above, and bears on the under side radiating gills which are at first flesh-colored, but gradually become brown. The plant grows in rich pastures and is proverbial for rapidity of growth and shortness of duration. It has a pleasant smell, and is largely used as food. It is also cultivated from spawn.


Any large fungus, especially one of the genus Agaricus; a toadstool. Several species are edible; but many are very poisonous.


One who rises suddenly from a low condition in life; an upstart.



© Webster 1913.

Mush"room, a.


Of or pertaining to mushrooms; as, mushroom catchup.


Resembling mushrooms in rapidity of growth and shortness of duration; short-lived; ephemerial; as, mushroom cities.

Mushroom anchor, an anchor shaped like a mushroom, capable of grasping the ground in whatever way it falls. -- Mushroom coral Zool., any coral of the genus Fungia. See Fungia. -- Mushroom spawn Bot., the mycelium, or primary filamentous growth, of the mushroom; also, cakes of earth and manure containing this growth, which are used for propagation of the mushroom.


© Webster 1913.

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