Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A folktale - or does thunder and lightning spawn mushrooms?

 Dr Abe V Rotor

In the province, it is a tradition to go hunting for mushrooms in bamboo groves, on anthills, under rice hay and banana stalks during the monsoon season, specifically after a period of heavy thunder and lightning. And what do we know? Old folks are right as they show you the prize - baskets full of Volvariella (rice hay or banana mushroom), Plerotus (abalone mushroom), Auricularia (tainga ng daga), and a host of other wild mushroom species.

Where did the mushrooms come from?

When lightning strikes, nitrogen, which comprise 78 percent of the air combines with oxygen (21 percent of the air) forming nitrate (NO3). Scientists call this process, nitrogen fixation or nitrification. Nitrate, which is soluble in water, is washed down by rain. Electrical discharge also aids in the fixation of other elements such as sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium into soluble compounds.

Edible wild mushroom
Lightning occurs every second in any place of the earth, maintaining the earth’s supply of these and other life-giving compounds. Not only green plants benefit from these natural fertilizers, but also phytoplankton (microscopic one-celled plants) - and the lowly mushroom whose vegetative stage is but some cottony mass of mycelia enmeshed in decomposing media such as plant residues.

Ganoderma or shelf mushroom; Dung mushroom 

 Dead tree attacked by tree mushroom and other fungi; Stinkhorn

Auricularia (Tanga ng daga)

With nitrate and other nutrients now available, coupled with favorable conditions of the environment, the saprophyte transforms into its reproductive phase. This is the mushroom we are familiar with – umbrella-like and fleshy. In all its luxuriance and plenty, it is not unusual to discover clusters or hills of mushrooms in just a single spot. ~

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