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A tiny, fragile-looking mushroom sporting a honey-yellow  ‘cap’  found  on  the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode here has been identified as a new species.

What is Mushroom?

Mushrooms, Fungi, and Their Distinction: Mushrooms are the distinctive umbrella-shaped fruiting bodies of certain fungi. While they may appear similar to plants, animals, and fungi, there are significant differences that set them apart. Plants: Plants possess chlorophyll, allowing them to engage in photosynthesis, producing their own food. They are the primary producers in the ecosystem.

Animals: In contrast, animals lack chlorophyll and obtain their  nutrition  by ingesting other organisms, plants, or animals.

Fungi: Fungi, including mushrooms, neither have chlorophyll nor ingest their food in the traditional sense. They thrive on decaying organic matter in natural environments and are commercially cultivated on various substrates.

Although mushrooms are often mistaken as vegetables, they don’t fit neatly into the plant or animal categories. They are a unique type of fungus containing ergosterol, a compound akin to animal cholesterol, which can be converted into vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Types of Mushrooms and Nutritional Aspects: Popularly, the term “mushroom” typically refers to the edible fruiting bodies, while “toadstool” is used for inedible or poisonous varieties. Edible mushrooms are devoid of cholesterol and contain essential amino acids and B vitamins.

In terms of composition, commercially grown mushrooms are over  90%  water by fresh weight, with less than 3% protein, less than 5% carbohydrates, less than 1% fat, and approximately 1% mineral salts and vitamins.


Health Benefits and Risks: Mushrooms offer more than just nutrition. They contain non-nutritive substances like indoles, polysaccharides, polyphenols, and carotenoids, which exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. Additionally, mushrooms contain an amino acid called glutamate, also found in meats, fish, cheeses, and simmering soups.

However, it’s crucial to note that wild mushrooms can be poisonous, and mushroom poisoning can range from mild gastrointestinal issues to severe, even fatal reactions. Therefore, proper identification of wild mushrooms is critical when foraging.