Welcome to Mycognosis

Fungi are essential to life on Earth, but strangely, until quite recently they have largely been ignored by western science, medicine and agriculture.

Now, as a result of recent research, a resurgence of traditional knowledge, and the efforts of citizen scientists and home cultivators, the value of these species is being recognized as a source of nutrition, medicine, ecological remediation, soil building, recycling and more.

This site is dedicated to learning and sharing information about Fungi, what part they play in nature, and how we can benefit from integrating them into our lives, our communities and our environment.


This company is using mushrooms to reduce plastic waste

Mushroom Podcast

Face cast in Blue Oyster MyceliaCheck out this podcast about fungi I did with the Teach Me Tiger team:

This week, we are talking about MUSHROOMS. A friend joins us to teach us all about fungi. We learn about fruiting bodies, bespoke antibiotics, the mycelial network, micro-dosing, and the Santa Connection. And as always, much much (mush mush?) more! Grab your hardhat, because your mind is about to be BLOWN!

Making Mushroom Bouillon Cubes

A bit of work to make but great to have on hand for quick hearty mushroom broth. Improvising on a recipe concept in Joe Beef’s cool cookbook Surviving the Apocalypse:

Powder up some dried shiitake, maitake, puffball, cocoa beans, garlic seeds(?) from mature scapes, salt and pepper. Use what you have on hand or what herbs and spices would be appropriate for the type of broth you will want to make. Pulverize with a mortar and pestle, then a coffee grinder.

Cook down some red wine, maple sugar, marmite until thick. Mix in the powder. Add coconut oil and xanthan powder and press into 3g pucks with your handy hash press.

Study finds fungi, not plant matter, responsible for most carbon sequestration in northern forests

The study system consists of 30 islands of different sizes in the two large lakes, Lake Uddjaure and Lake Hornavan, near Arjeplog in northern Sweden. Credit: Karina Clemmensen

The study system consists of 30 islands of different sizes in the two large lakes, Lake Uddjaure and Lake Hornavan, near Arjeplog in northern Sweden. Credit: Karina Clemmensen

(by Bob Yirka , Phys.org ) —A new study undertaken by a diverse group of scientists in Sweden has found that contrary to popular belief, most of the carbon that is sequestered in northern boreal forests comes about due to fungi that live on and in tree roots, rather than via dead needles, moss and leaf matter. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes their findings after taking soil samples from 30 islands in two lakes in northern Sweden….

…In their study they found that 47 percent of soil carbon found on large island samples came about due to fungi, as did a whopping 70 percent of carbon in small island soil samples. Read More …

September Brings Bounty

After a hot dry summer, a couple of cool nights and some rain is all the mushrooms need to encourage them to burst forth. These beauties come from “regular” spots, that is, my friend Laurie finds giant puffballs in the same place every year in a spot she can see from the road while driving by. I find Maitake in the same public park every year. The trick it to get there before the lawnmower does, so I thought the morning after Labour Day would be a good bet, and it paid off.


Giant Puffball - thanks Laurie! Maitake or Hen of the Woods

Check out some Puffball recipes here and here. Maitake is great sautéed in butter or bacon fat eaten any way you eat regular mushrooms. Both can be dried and reconstituted for soups. Maitake has medicinal properties and can be made into tinctures or infusions.

Fruiting Chamber from a recycled Shower Stall

When it is time to fruit a fungal culture, it is necessary that you control the amount of light, oxygen and humidity it receives. Changes in light, moisture and fresh air are what stimulate the mycelial mass to produce what we know as mushrooms. Each species has different requirements. Variation in these factors can control the shape of the fruit bodies. For example the CO2 levels will influence whether Reishi and Artists’ Conk mushrooms take their shelf-like, or “antler”, forms.

A Fruiting Chamber should allow you to do this, hopefully without damaging the surrounding building. In the past I have used a plastic germination tent on a plastic tarp. It was hard to clean, leaked condensation and was vulnerable to pests, like fungus gnats. After a bathroom renovation, I salvaged this shower stall to make a chamber that I hope will solve some of those problems. I will post an update when I have some fungi to fruit.

Magic Mushrooms could heal damaged brain cells in people suffering from depression, study shows

Psychedelics could be ‘next generation’ of safer treatments for mental health

Alex Matthews-King | Health Correspondent | The Independant

This figure shows the effects of three psychedelics, DMT, LSD, amphetamines (DOI) and one control (VEH) on neurons in the prefrontal cortex (Ly et al)

This figure shows the effects of three psychedelics, DMT, LSD, amphetamines (DOI) and one control (VEH) on neurons in the prefrontal cortex (Ly et al)

“One of the hallmarks of depression is that the neurites in the prefrontal cortex – a key brain region that regulates emotion, mood, and anxiety – those neurites tend to shrivel up,” says Dr David Olson, who lead the research team.

These brain changes also appear in cases of anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder and stimulating them to reconnect could help to address this.

The research, published in the journal Cell Reports today, looked at drugs in several classes including tryptamines, DMT and magic mushrooms; amphetamines, including MDMA; and ergolines, like LSD.

In tests on human brain cells in the lab, flies and rats, it found these substances consistently boosted brain connections.

Read More…

Making Mushroom Medicine

The information in this introduction was gleaned from works by M(y)cCoy, Rogers, and Stamets, listed on the MycoResources page. I plan to write individual articles on particular species of interest, as I have already done with Turkey Tail. This article is meant as a general intro to medicinal fungi.

Ingredients for an Immune Boosting Tea Clockwise from the top: Clockwise from the top: Ginseng, Maitake, Reishi, Chaga, Artists' Conk, ShiitakeIt is often stated that the fungi are more closely related to animals than they are to plants. Their cell walls are made of chitin, like insects and crustaceans, whereas plants cells are made of cellulose and lignin. They consume oxygen and release CO2 just as we do.

Where fungi differ from animals is that they are “inside-out”, as it were. While animals are generally self-contained autonomous units which must ingest nutrients to digest them within, fungi grow into their food, extruding digestive enzymes and absorbing the nutrients.

Since fungi in the wild come into direct contact with various microbes, viruses, and other competitive fungi, they have an array of defenses at their disposal. And because, in many ways, their metabolisms are similar to ours, some of these molecules can be used to enhance our health. These powerful substances make up the very structure of the mushroom itself. Of course, as a source of biologically active chemicals, mushrooms create many toxins as well, so it’s important to know the difference. The oft’ quoted maxim applies here: “All fungi are edible, some only once”.

In addition to chitin, mushrooms contain, glucans, mannans, terpenes, and glycoproteins. Polysaccharides combine with proteins to form complex molecules, chains similar to DNA. These compounds have been found to aid the immune system by variously stimulating the growth of disease fighting blood cells, aiding in the detection of pathogens, or modulating the reaction in auto-immune responses, such as inflammation and pain. Terpenes (diterpenes and triterpenes) are aromatic chemicals with medicinal properties of their own which often work synergistically with other compounds, for example facilitating their transport across the blood-brain barrier.Lentinan is a polysaccharide isolated from the fruit body of shiitake (Lentinula edodes mycelium. Lentinan has been approved as an adjuvant for stomach cancer in Japan since 1985.[1] Lentinan is one of the host-mediated anti-cancer drugs which has been shown to affect host defense immune systems.

Because chitin is not digestible, medicinal mushrooms must be processed for use. Depending on the species and the intended use, they can be cooked, dried, made into infusions and tinctures, or burnt for their smoke and ash. Many, like Shiitake and Maitake, are valued as delicious gourmet mushrooms. Others like the Birch Polypore and Artists’ conk are bitter and woody-textured. These medicinal compounds are found in both the mycelia and fruiting bodies of the fungi. According to Rogers’ Fungal Pharmacy most edible mushrooms have some medicinal characteristics in addition to their nutritional value.

Chaga and VodkaNot all these compounds are water soluble so making a tea might not suffice to extract all the benefits. A common method for extracting medicine from fungi is making a dual extract tincture. In a jar, cover dried broken/powdered mushrooms with 4-5 times their weight in high proof alcohol (30g fungus/120-150g alc.) and soak for at least a month, agitating periodically. After the alcohol soluble constituents have been extracted, press out the solution (I use an Aerobie AeroPress which also makes great coffee) and put the remaining solids (the marc) in a pot with a volume of water equal to the alcohol solution. Weigh the pot and record the weight. Now add 4 times that amount of water and place the pot in boiling water. Simmer the mixture until the liquid is reduced to the original volume (and weight). Press out the liquid and mix the two equal parts together in a dark glass bottle. The alcohol content should be sufficient to preserve the tincture.

Piptoporus betulinus Commonly known as the birch polypore, birch bracket, or razor strop is a medicinal mushroomI used to think that powerful natural medicines came from deep in the Amazon jungle or from the far east. I have been pleased to find that many of the most prized medicinal fungi can be found in abundance in our own Boreal forests. In future articles I hope to feature some of these healing mushrooms including Turkey Tail, Birch Polypore, Tinder Conk, Artists’ Conk, Maitake and Chaga.

 

 

 

 

Cultivating Corn Smut (Ustilago maydis) Part 2

Part 1 of this experiment was last year, and that entailed harvesting the spores of a Huitlacoche inhabited corn cob.

In Part 2 I retrieve the liquefied corn smut from the freezer, dilute it in water, and inoculate the silk of my corn plants. I have wrapped the male flowers in plastic film to prevent pollination, which is said to impede the growth of the mycelium. I will post the results hopefully in a couple of weeks. This research says 16 or 17 days: Production and Marketing of Huitlacoche