Forage Friday #134 Alternative Products From Mushrooms

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Polypore Mushroom 110221a” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Always be extra cautious about mushrooms. Even though tonight’s post isn’t about food or medicinal values there’s always an outside chance that someone somewhere could have a negative reaction to handling certain fungi. Most fungi are still very much alive when you bring them into your home so be prepared to deal with spores.

Tonight’s Forage Friday post is going to be a little different. Often in the cold seasons I find myself facing the choice between suspending the Forage Friday posts or expanding the concept of foraging to something beyond food and medicine. Such is the case tonight. Earlier this year I resolved to learn more about the various mushrooms and fungi that seem to thrive in our mountains. When I took my insect and disease control courses in the 90s the focus wasn’t so much on the identification of individual mushrooms as much as it was identifying which ones helped the forest grow and which ones devalued timber. I was blessed to have one particular instructor that had a vast knowledge of mushrooms and was very willing to go deeper into which ones were edible and traditionally used as medicine etc. But for the most part we stuck to approved curriculum. However, he did manage to impress upon me that the phrase “forest products” doesn’t have to be limited to timber.

Trametes pubescens in the process of recycling a tree. Image can be purchased by clicking the photo and reaching out to me on the contact page.

When I wrote about Chaga and Turkey Tail Fungus my main focus was on the traditional Native American medicinal values. And I’ve been taking advantage of that knowledge lately. But as I became more interested in learning more about them I encountered a post that spoke about what to do with the mushrooms after the extracts have been made. As it turns out most of the mushrooms have more to offer than polyphenols and triterpines. The body of a fungus is made from a substance known as chitin. ( pronounced KY-tin). This substance very close molecularly to cellulose and can be used to make paper. Moreover, to make mushroom paper all you need is a blender, hot water and a screen to cure your paper. That’s it. No toxic chemicals to pollute the rivers and that’s my favorite part. Basically you simmer the leftover fungus until it’s soft enough to turn into a pulp with the blender and spread it on the screen to drain. Some of the people doing this recommended adding a little tissue paper to the mixture for cohesion and one lady suggested that cobwebs might make the mushrooms paper better. But the bottom line was its doable.

I began to think about trametes pubescens which is a close relative to Turkey Tail Fungus and doesn’t have a reputation for the medicinal values. But it’s cream colored and unless I miss my guess it just as prolific as Turkey Tail. Maybe more so. Aside from the obvious uses of paper for writing and as tissue I think it might make an excellent canvas for art. Mushroom fiber is pretty absorbent and should hold pigment very well.

As I pushed even further into the realm of mushrooms as an alternative substance for everyday needs I learned that some people have discovered that it also be made into a leather type product, a replacement for Styrofoam and plastic. Architects are even experimenting with turning fungus into a lightweight building material. Some of this has a way to go before it becomes practical but the way they do it is by growing the fungus in a mold and then curing it in an oven. In Appalachia we have a thriving forest industry that could easily expand beyond the expected lumber and make use of all the sawdust to grow many of the types of mushrooms used in these products. It could be a second harvest for us.

Unknown polypore covering a tree twenty feet in the air.

Of course we don’t really have to wait on the big industries to catch up. Many of the mushrooms can also be grown in lawn waste or even cornstocks and more. All you need is basement, garage or outbuilding and you have the whole internet to learn more.

Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.

Announcement 2.0

For those who have been following me on Facebook and know of the struggle content providers have to get circulation from big tech I’ve been recommending for people to adopt MeWe as a social media platform. One of the problems I’ve run into on MeWe is that people don’t know how to navigate the platform. So to help with that I’ve created a permanent page on my website as a basic Basic Beginner’s Guide To MeWe I’ve tried to anticipate all basic questions there and You can bookmark the page to have as a reference and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me. I do still have a day job and I help admin several pages on both platforms so replies might be a little slow but I will answer you.

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Hello Friends. The feature for tonight is titled “Symbiosis” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

The cool misty rain floats in air and gently settles onto the forest floor. Because the ground temperature is warmer than the air the fog rises up almost immediately. The fresh scent of the moss wafts through the woods. As the rain slows to a halt the birds resume their songs. I decided to take advantage of the break in the weather and venture out. Throughout the sea of soft green that carpets the forest the tiny orange speck catches my glimpse. At first I thought that it was a gumball or piece of candy dropped near the trail but when I was close enough to focus on it I saw the tiny mushroom. To get a positive ID was a little beyond my reach but because of the location and growth medium I believe it’s some kind of Mycorrhizal fungus. No. Not “fun Gus”, fungus. Believe it or not Mycorrhizal fungus are a pretty important part of God’s design for planet earth. There’s a whole lot of impressive vocabulary connected with describing it’s job but for the purpose of this post it’s job is to deliver nutrition to the plants. In return the plants turn the nutrients into food that the fungus can eat. They don’t just grow next to each other. They share a root system. For most of us the word symbiosis is one of the first natural science terms that we learn. Just in case you were busy shooting paper balls through a straw at your classmates that day it means a partnership between two or more organisms. They are stronger together working as one than each would be on it’s own. The relationship means not just surviving but thriving.

Today’s world is pretty rough. Everywhere we look there are divisions and competition between people who have different angles on life and how it should be lived. Each side has it’s own talents and the potential for success in survival of the world but is there something more? If we could really come together in true partnership with each other and organize are talents while respecting each other’s needs what could be achieved? Because of the relationship between the fungus and the plants that surround it the underlying soil is far more productive for both. It’s productive enough to improve the life of organisms that are not directly connected to either the plants or the fungus. The fertility from the union helps the plants produce higher quality nectar which feeds the bees that produce the honey that fuels their flight to an other type of plant growing in a garden that gets fertilized by the bee and grows into a fruit that is eaten by us. We benefit from the strange little mushrooms that we’ve never seen.

And we might benefit from the relationship the doctor who cares for us has with the person who brews his morning coffee and ensures that he has a productive day even though that person might be someone who we don’t see eye to eye with in any options.

In closing I want to plainly say that my intention here is to encourage everyone to treat each other with kindness and respect. Because that person on social media that just makes your blood boil could be more important to you indirectly than you think. But even if they are not it’s still best to not engage with them and give your attention to someone and something that does have a mutual benefit so that you can get that positive return. 😊

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Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook or use the contact form on my website and tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you to

Lastly, all of the photos are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer.

Thank you again for your support of my page! 😊