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#fungus

Fungus

If you live somewhere wet like the drippy, drizzly Pacific Northwest, you are familiar with fungi. Whether they are popping up in your lawn seemingly overnight, or delighting you on your hike with their fantastic array of shapes and colors, there is something about seeing a fungal being that just feels special. One reason may be because, well, there just isn’t anything else like them. Not quite plant and not quite animal, fungi have a kingdom all to themselves. They are also masters at breaking down dead material, such as fallen logs, dead standing trees (called “snags”), leaf litter, and dead animals. Fungi come in many forms, and some are single-celled and microscopic, living in the soil along with decomposing bacteria. If fungi didn’t exist, neither would we, and neither would much of the rest of life on Earth. These decomposers are responsible for releasing carbon back into the ecosystem so that it can be used as fuel to sustain plants which, in turn, sustain animals. It is through those pathways that fungi sustain us. The two best links I could find with general info about fungi are from the UK – I suppose it’s rather rainy over there, as well! See: http://treesforlife.org.uk/forest/forest-ecology/fungi-95/ and http://www.britmycolsoc.org.uk

Lucia Hadella