Fungus is something that fascinates and the many different types and varieties even more so. They are a plant species that grow without chlorophyll and, therefore, have no need for sunlight. That gives them many places to grow and thrive that is worth exploring. Among the most favourite types are those we eat. Yeast, for instance, is a fungus that we use in cooking and so are mushrooms. In the case of the letter we are somewhat addicted to them which explain why they can be quite expensive to purchase.
Many of the species are poisonous and can be carried and spread by insects, animals and others. A fungus carried by a frog, for example, was imported into the Americas during the period of the 1930’s to the 1950’s to test if women are pregnant was released into the wild and the result is the loss of hundreds of species of frogs and even salamanders worldwide. That alone shows that by introducing species from one continent to another has often resulted in devastating effects on the local fauna. The Cane Toad introduced into Australia at around the same time is having a disastrous effect on the local wildlife as it is deadly poison.
Molds, smuts, rusts, mildew and yeast all fall into the category of fungus. While we know the danger of most of these when we come in contact it is the mushrooms that people tend to take the most risk with. Magic mushrooms, for instance, found in wooded areas in Australia, give the user a high similar to other drugs. Under the influence of that variety, however, many have performed outrageous acts and even killed themselves unintentionally. It is now prohibited to collect or possess them.
Unless one knows what they are doing picking mushrooms from a field to eat is not a wise move. This was proven in Canberra in 1912 when a Chinese cook found some mushrooms that resembled one found in China. He served it in a dish prepared for some friends who were visiting from that country at the time. Unbeknown to him he had served them one of the most deadly of all fungus, the white cap mushroom. They died in agony in hospital some days later.
Fungi have over 100,000 in the species and are no longer considered plants in the taxonomy studies. Their spores can survive in extreme temperatures and can be extremely destructive as we know from molds and things, especially in buildings. The safest way to deal with them is to avoid contact and to only buy them from safe suppliers and if tempted to pick them from a field the user should know what they are doing.