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Mushrooms have a long and illustrious history. They have been harnessed for millennia. Cavemen would often use mushrooms as tinder, and ancient Egyptians regarded it as the plant of immortality. Today, we cultivate them in mushroom grow jars designed for growing edible and medicinal mushrooms.

Cultivators need to learn more about mushroom anatomy to learn how to cultivate them. How do you grow something you know nothing about? How do you progress in cultivation if you don't know your stem from your gills? These are all necessary components of the mushroom.

Anatomy of Mushrooms

You're required to learn about the anatomy of mushrooms to become a great cultivator. We recommend spending some time immersing yourself in the information below so that you can become the best at your craft. We'll start at the gills and work our way downward. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

The Gills

The gills are a key aspect of the mushroom. They're vertical plates hanging in a pattern on the cap's underside. They appear similar to certain types of radiator fins. Spores are created within the gills, which spread around the forest floor at the beginning of the mushroom lifecycle. Gills can change color depending on the lighting, and you can see the color of the spores on the surface. Gills are either packed together or spaced out on the underside of the mushroom. They could attach to the stem, or they could be separate from it; it depends on the mushroom. Gills can even run down the stem entirely.

The Stipe or Stem

The stem of the mushroom is often called the stipe. Depending on the type of mushroom you're working with, the cap and stem are often distinct from each other, whether through texture or color. The inner fleshy portion of the stem could become tough, and in some cases, the stem could be entirely hollow.

The stem supports the cap, which elevates it into the air. It helps disperse spores in the wild. People don't typically eat the fibrous parts of the mushroom found in the stem. It's possible to do so, but the stems contain chitin, which is hard to digest. Because of this, it's difficult to receive nutrients from these parts of the mushrooms.

Remnants and Veils

The veil structures can seriously throw off any efforts to identify many species and change how mushrooms grow. The universal veil encases the mushroom as it appears above ground, similar to an eggshell. A budding mushroom is called an egg. Like an egg, as it grows, there should be very little—if any—remnant left. It could persist around the volva or as tissue stuck on the cap. A partial veil covers the immature gills and stretches from the stem to the cap rim.

The Rhizomorph

Rhizomorphs are root structures in the mushrooms found within the mushroom's fruiting body or mycelium. They're threadlike and composed of bundles of parallel hyphae—branching filaments that make up the body of the fungus. They ultimately absorb nutrients and act as a translation organ for them. Learning about rhizomorphs is one of the best ways to understand mushroom anatomy and how all the parts of the mushrooms come together.

Health Benefits of Consuming Mushrooms

Recently, mushroom sales have grown exponentially—and for a good reason. There are many health benefits to consuming mushrooms, and given their versatility, you can consume them in multiple ways to reap their benefits.

You can cook edible mushrooms or grind them into powder if they're medicinal. The versatility is unmatched, and given how many mushrooms we consume regularly, it helps to know how they can benefit us. Mushrooms are known to ward off chronic illness and even improve your daily health.

Mushrooms Boost Brain Health

Taking care of our brains is important, especially as we age. Unfortunately, many people over the age of 50 deal with some form of cognitive impairment, which can impact memory, thinking skills, and judgment. We can't deny that a healthy diet is key for an aging brain, and mushrooms perfectly incorporate something good for your brain into your diet.

People who consume mushrooms regularly are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than those who eat them less often than once a week. Why is this? Why are mushrooms so good at cognitive protection? It's in the antioxidants. Mushrooms contain ergothioneine, an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties, which could protect you against neuronal damage often associated with dementia and other brain disorders.

Immunity Support and Bone Health

As it turns out, exposing mushrooms to UV radiation increases their vitamin D levels. They contain up to 46 percent of our daily vitamin D requirement. That's a nutritional perk you don't often see in many food sources. This plays an interesting role in immunity and bone support and immunity.

Vitamin D can also promote and increase muscle function, improve coordination, as well as offer anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties. While we often receive vitamin D from the sun, many factors can affect our risk of vitamin D deficiency. You could become deficient if you don't have enough sunlight or aren't eating enough in your daily life. Crohn's disease, osteoporosis, and liver disease can cause this issue.

Promote Gut Health

Your gut contains a multitude of bacterial matter, and consuming mushrooms may help get your GI tract track back in balance. Mushrooms contain prebiotics. These are the nutrients that probiotics in our gut feed on. Prebiotics, in turn, can help bolster the growth of these bacteria. They're live microorganisms and provide many health benefits for the body, such as improved digestion and nutrient production.

Mushrooms Are a Great Source of Selenium

Medicinal mushrooms are also an excellent source of selenium. You can find selenium in soil and water. Make sure you get a balanced intake of this material. It can boost the immune system, prevent heart disease, and help fight cancer cells in the body. It can also help prevent depression and improve your mood.

Learning about the components and properties of mushrooms is integral if you want to learn how to cultivate them. Learning about their health benefits can help you do the same and inspire you to grow your own. If you want to grow mushrooms, we carry some of the best supplies here at Midwest Organics! Shop Midwest for all your needs!

Mushroom Anatomy: Understanding All the Parts of a Mushroom
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