Autumn brings many bonuses. The trees turn beautiful golds and reds. The cold, crisp (sometimes) sunny mornings are a beautiful way to clear your head.
And, popping out all over the forest floor are mushrooms!
Mushrooms are fascinating. They look like plants, but they’re actually more closely related to humans than trees. They breathe in oxygen and breathe out Co2, just like we do, and even contract some of the same viruses.
They’re one of the oldest life-forms on earth. A fungi found fossilised in volcanic rock was dated back 2.4 billion years. The largest living organism on earth is a fungi in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. Nicknamed the “Humongous Fungus”, it covers 2,385 acres, and could weigh up to 35,000 tonnes! It could be as old as 8,650 years old – almost as old as civilisation itself.
They’re easy to ignore, but mushrooms are some of the most diverse, widespread and poorly understood life-forms on Earth.
They’re also extremely beneficial for our health. Mushrooms benefit cognition, mood, energy levels and our immune system. There’s also very promising research being done in King’s College London, John’s Hopkins and other prestigious universities into psilocybin (compound found in ‘magic mushrooms’) to treat depression, anxiety and PTSD.
So, next time you find yourself walking in the woods, stop and have a better look at the mushrooms you find growing. There’s more to them than you might think.