What are Fungi?

Fungi - Nature's Great Recycling Centre

When it comes to the health of our natural environment there's not much that's more important that fungi, except perhaps how we treat that environment. Fungi are almost single handedly responsible for the clean up that goes on almost unseen under our very noses. In fact, it's our noses that may give us a clue that there's anything going on at all.

Natural Woodland fungi identificationIt it weren't for fungus, decay would only be through the actions of bacteria, and that's not a good thing. Bacterial decay creates foul smelling noxious gasses, whereas fungal decay is relatively odorless by comparison.  Why do you think we freeze food or vacuum seal food? To slow fungal and bacterial growth and to keep them out.

It is estimated that for every gram of forest floor soil there are around 1 million fungal spores ready and waiting to begin the recycling process.

When trees die, branches fall off or leaves fall, it's fungi that returns this organic matter back to whence it came; recycling organic matter back in to nutrients to fuel a new cycle of rebirth in the countryside.

It may surprise you, or may be not depending on who you know, that science has identified hundreds of different species of fungus that live on our own bodies, around 100 on our feet alone! Not all of this is good news of course, just a fact of life.

Eventually of course, fungi recycles us, if we choose that route.

So, it's fair to say fungi plays an important role in our unseen environment.​

Fungi - The Unseen Workhorse in Industry

There's more though. You would be amazed to know how much our science and industry has put fungi to work for us.

We are all familiar with many of the roles fungus plays in our everyday lives. Yeast is part of the fungi kingdom. It helps us make bread, cheese, beer and wine - what more could you want? And when we get sick, it helps treat us too through a vast array of antibiotics.

However the uses of fungi go further, much further. Many familiar products in our supermarkets and chemists would not be possible without having enlisted the participation of the fungi kingdom.

ImageNature's Other Little Recycling Centre

As fungi enthusiasts, it's often a race against time to find pristine specimens as fungi are a favorite of other animals and insects. Here are a couple of nature's other unstoppable recycling machines and the bane of many gardeners - slugs.