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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international consultants. About living in Italy, the Veneto area near Venice; in Indonesia, central Java. Why we love the southeast of the United States and moved back from Italy. Our love for gardening, the botanical way. Sharing with you our manifold treasures from exotic places and even offering several in my Mariette's Back to Basics LLC Boutique, for others to enjoy. As well as high end silver items from Giovanni Raspini, Italy |  google.com/+MariettesBacktoBasics 
I also do classes and consulting... too much to list here! Check out my google.com/+MarietteVandenMunckhofVedder ABOUT page, where you see my other LINKS and email address; you just scroll down.Thanks!
Love to bring back some romance and quality to the daily life of others... 

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Friday, March 6, 2015

{Reader Asked WHY They Are Called Toadstools}

In my previous post: {Toadstools Digest Lignin in Nature} in one of the comments, a reader asked WHY they are called toadstools. 

Toadstools...
Indeed the toad's stool comes from old legends...
Why not let my husband Pieter J.C. Vedder speak about them; him being the expert.
THE MYSTIQUE AROUND MUSHROOMS
Fungi, mushrooms, or toadstools are very interesting creatures and at the same time highly misunderstood by most of us.
People are rarely neutral in their opinion about mushrooms - either they love, or they hate them.
Most mushrooms have a very short life span.
The fruit bodies of mushrooms may die every season, but their underground living network, the so-called mycelium, almost lives forever.
During the Middle Ages, toadstools were considered creations of the devil. People believed that when he traveled over the globe, disguised as an old fat toad, he ordered a toadstool to rise up from the earth when he wanted to rest. Some people believed that even touching them was harmful.  Toadstools growing in circles in clearings in woods and fields were believed to be places where witches danced. Today, more than 10,000 kinds of fleshy mushrooms are known. From the thousands of fleshy mushrooms we know, only a limited number are edible. Some 50 species are known as not just edible but indeed delicious. 
The biggest known edible mushroom, named Termitomyces grows in Africa in symbioses with termites as the name suggests. Their umbrella-like cap can reach up to over two feet in diameter. They are well sought after. In East European countries, fresh or dried wild mushrooms have been known as 'bread of the poor.' Historical records reveal that mushrooms also have been used for less benign purposes; Claudius the Second and Pope Clement VII were both killed by enemies who poisoned them with deadly Amanitas; more than likely Amanita phalloïdes or death cap. Some species have strong hallucinogenic and/or psychedelic qualities. The most well known in this area are certain Stopharias and Psiloybes. Psilocybes have strong psychedelic qualities. Psilocibyn is a substrate that can carry you away into very high spirits; sometimes even as high as heaven, but on a one-way ticket. One never knows how much of the toxic substance is in those fruit bodies. This is because the concentration can vary quite a bit, depending on growing conditions, the age of fruitbodies, etc. You maybe have heard my answer to the often-asked question if this or that mushroom is edible  ̶  'you can eat them all, a few however  only once.'
The Amanita muscaria with the little white flecks on the red cap makes it quite distinctive. It is perhaps the most attractive, beautiful species, often used in children's books with fairy tales, but good looking does not mean completely innocent. Many cultures portray this Amanita, with its strong hallucinogenic and psychedelic qualities as the archetypal mushroom. The substance contained in the Amanita muscaria attacks the central nervous system, producing intoxication and hallucinations. Mushrooms play an important role in maintaining the cycle of nature; they decompose and clear away left over pieces of wood and leaves  ̶  material not so easy degradable by other organisms. Most of these types are so-called saprophytic ones, meaning they only live on dead or decaying material. Others, so-called parasitic ones, are more aggressive and attack living plants or trees, penetrating them with their tissue, the mycelium, and finally killing them. 
Parasitic fungi have always been the bane of foresters. 
In the past, a parasitic fungus has been looked upon as being a biological evil. This view however is changing as science progresses. Recently discovered by Montana State University researchers, a new parasitic fungus attacks the Yew tree. This species is called Taxomyces andreanea for one notable feature; it produces small quantities of a very potent anti-carcinogen taxol, a proven shrinker of breast cancer tumors. 
For centuries, the Japanese have hailed the Shii-take mushroom (Lentinus edodes) as a life-elixir and cure-all. All kinds of extracts from Shii-take mushrooms are on the shelves in Japan where it is big business.
Mushrooms often live in symbiosis with other plants, most often roots of certain trees. Some trees even won't grow well without the presence of mycelium of certain mushrooms. My German friend Prof. Dr. Jan Lelley worked with the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, producing an inoculum, based on Mycorrhizae, for faster growth of pine trees. A good example of a mutual profitable symbiosis is the very expensive Truffle (Tuber melanosporum). This species will only grow and produce fruit bodies under certain conditions in the presence of roots of oak trees. The Truffle develops the well sought after fruit bodies approximately one foot under the surface; therefore, you need a pig with a sharp nose or a special trained dog to find them. The pig seems to be included in the price of up to $ 700/lb (or even more) for this particular Truffle. 
If you are interested in collecting some edible mushrooms yourself, think about this: Every year people die of mushroom poisoning in spite of repeated warnings. One has to be able to identify mushrooms correctly. People often make the literally fatal mistake of assuming that if animals can eat a certain mushroom, so can humans. Unfortunately this is not true, e.g. slugs can eat death caps without any harm  ̶  it's safe for them but not for us. There are many 'old wives' tales about how to identify edible and poisonous mushrooms. They are all false. Particularly dangerous is the saying that if you can peel it, you can eat it. You can certainly peel a death cap, which got its name for a good reason! Other sayings refer to staining silver spoons black. Ignore all these stories. One thing is for sure  ̶  the safest mushrooms are in the supermarket's produce section. 
It was inevitable that sooner or later somebody would get the idea of growing mushrooms. So far, mushroom growing has been economically successful for only a limited number of species. The U.S. is still the biggest mushroom producer in the world followed by, believe it or not, The Netherlands. The Dutch have been, and still are, the innovators in this field and without tooting my own horn, for many years I have played a role in that development. That's one of the reasons that my book Modern Mushroom Growing is by professionals called the 'mushroom bible' and has been translated into eight languages. My wife Mariette also wrote a book about mushroom harvesting techniques, organization, post-harvesting etc. 
Let me finish by saying that growing edible mushrooms over the years has been developed from an art into a science, assisted by all kinds of machinery and modern equipment. Mushrooms, microorganisms, molds, and toadstools have been our life, our work, and our hobby. It always has been and still is perhaps a somewhat mysterious but fascinating world. 

Editor's note: Meanwhile, China is playing a major role in mushroom production as well.
~
Pieter J.C. Vedder is a graduate of Wageningen University in Horticulture and Horticultural Engineering with a teaching degree. He founded the world's first and only practical Mushroom Training College in The Netherlands. Campbell Soup Company hired him as Vice President Training & Development for all of their US/Canadian and Australian plants. He also designed the high-tech Dudley, Georgia and Hillsboro, Texas plants. He has given seminars and done  consulting work with his wife Mariette all over the world. 

Interesting link:
A real toadstool | Post by blogger friend: Travels With Birds by David Gascoigne showing a toad on a toadstool!

40 comments:

  1. first, loved the illustration of the toad resting while his drawers dry. :) second, the devil traveling as an ugly old fat toad makes me sad as i think toads are cute. :) interesting that folks avoided them, though, as the devil's work especially since so many still make wrong assumptions and eat the poisonous ones. i liked the part about don't assume they're safe because animals can eat them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Theresa,
      That illustration is a very lovely one indeed! Oh, I'm completely with you about toads and find frogs and toads cute and always have picked them up and handled them. My biologist brother has handled lots of them as well and written about frogs and toads.
      Guess the mystique around toadstools will always continue to exist!
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  2. This was very interesting. I saw my first Aminita Muscara in the mountains where we live in the summer. beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Janey,
      Oh, those red with white speck dotted Amanita muscaria are such lovely toadstools and they appear in so many children's books and are used for Christmas ornaments etc. Even often being called lucky mushrooms. Well, as long as you don't eat them!
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  3. So interesting. I always learn something new from you...and I like learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Daniela,
      Thank you and it is interesting as we all grew up with this and knowing a bit more about these mushrooms from our childhood books never hurts!
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  4. You never know a toad may just like to have a rest on it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Kay,
      Don't think a toad will stretch out like a human being... They mostly crouch under something. But it is nice for imagination!
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  5. Dearest Mariette,
    this was really interesting, thank you! Love this picture on top :O)
    Happy rest of the week to oyu,
    Love and hugs
    Claudia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Claudia,
      Oh that toad, leaning on the toadstool is hilarious. Love it too.
      Enjoy your weekend.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  6. Liebe Mariette,

    deine Posts sind sehr interessant und lehrreich.
    Darüber freue ich mich.

    Alles Liebe
    Elisabeth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liebe Elisabeth,
      Danke, interessant sind solche Geschichten sicher und es hütet uns auch von tödlichen Fehler!
      Liebe Grüsse,
      Mariette

      Delete
  7. Interessant verhaal, de rode paddestoelen met stippen zie je hier haast niet meer, misschien ligt het aan de kleigrond hier in de polder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beste Marianne,
      Ja, elke soort paddestoel heeft zijn optimum grondsoort en ook omgeving en het zou zomaar kunnen vanwege de kleigrond die minder organisch materiaal bevat en daar moeten de paddestoelen juist van leven.
      Liefs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  8. Hello Mariette and Pieter, This post tells us about much lore attached to mushrooms, reflecting their strange qualities and the awe in which we hold them. Although they are plants, they don't quite follow the rules of regular green ones, and adding in their strange shapes and colors, and their role in decay, they can seem to belong to another world. Just as with the term toadstool, there are many stories connected to the mysterious fairy rings, those mushrooms that grow in perfect circles many feet in diameter. Not being superstitious, however, we merely regarded these as fun and interesting when we came across them.

    Fungi are even more fascinating when science enters the picture, teaching us about their taxonomy, propagation and specialized uses such as with taxol.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Jim,
      You are so right about that and during a Mushroom Science Congress, you get to know the ever growing knowledge for uses in the medical world. Never boring!
      Kindest regards,
      Mariette

      Delete
  9. Liebste Mariette,
    die Zeichnung, die du als Aufmacher bringst, gefällt
    mir ausnehmend gut. Ich habe mich noch nie so
    intensiv mit "Pilzen" beschäftigt. Es war interessant zu
    lesen.
    Einen sonnigen Donnerstag wünscht dir
    Irmi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liebe Irmi,
      Ja, da kann man vieles lesen was sehr interessant ist über Pilzen! Lustig ist die Zeichnung und deswegen habe ich sie als Aufmacher gewählt hier.
      Liebe Grüsse und schönes Wochenende!
      Mariette

      Delete
  10. Hi Mariette. How interesting to know why they are called toadstools. And very interesting people thought they were creations of devil! But I guess they sure looked spooky to people in middle ages when they grow in circles.
    Ah yes, Shii-take mushrooms are very big and popular in Japan! I didn't like them when I was small because of slimy texture, but I love them now :-) My husband is not big fan of texture, either, but then he grills them and he loves them that way!


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Tamago,
      This was too interesting for not mentioning in my blog post!
      Shii-take we both love the best and when fried in olive oil with garlic they are so yummy! The best we ate in Singapore, prepared by Dr. Kok Kheng Tan founder of MicoBiotech.com.
      Hugs and happy weekend!
      Mariette

      Delete
  11. Dear Mariette,
    Interesting article about mushrooms by Pieter, and what an interesting life you both have led teaching and developing mushroom growing facilities around the world! Mushrooms are always enchanting to me when I see them , seeming to pop up overnight. I had my first Amanita mushrooms growing here this past fall and they were amazing. Although I love to eat mushrooms, I would never try to pick my own, although many people here do. Every year we have people lost in the forest mushroom picking, never to be seen again. One was a University Professor last fall. I can only imagine the conversations you have had at the dinner table over the years regarding these mysterious 'creatures'! Mushrooms are a good example of how one species depends upon another. The Yew mushroom is also a testament to how we need to be very careful to preserve species, as we never know how beneficial they truly are. Fascinating information from two fascinating people! Hugs xo Karen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Karen,
      Thank you so very much for your lovely comment. Yes, it is a never ending conversation and who knows how future generations still will benefit from their qualities like e.g. the anti-carcinogen taxol.
      Happy weekend to you and hope it is mild in your area.
      Mariette

      Delete
  12. Lieve Mariette en Pieter,
    Heel interessant en informatief om het van dé expert zelf te vernemen.
    In mijn kindertijd hield ik me bezig met de grote paddenstoel vol met witte stippen waar kabouter Spillebeen op en neer zat te wippen en niet met duivels en andere vreemde wezens.
    Mijn tekeningen op school waren ook vliegenzwammen met een schuine hoed,schoorsteen,raampjes, deurtje en regenpijp die uitkwam boven de houten regenton naast de paddenstoel,met aan de andere kant stokrozen.

    Loop graag door het bos om paddenstoelen te bekijken en te fotograferen.
    Maar het allerliefste ga ik met paddenstoelen aan de slag in mijn kleine keukentje en ik koop ze lekker vers bij mijn marktkoopman uit Limburg die door de jaren heen steeds meer verschillende soorten op de kraam heeft staan.

    Lieve groet en bedankt voor het delen,Ger






    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lieve Ger,
      Ja, uit onze kleuterschool periode kennen we in Nederland allemaal het liedje van op een mooie paddestoel... Maar de wereld is groter en dan kom je via de literatuur andere verhalen tegen. Ze zijn en blijven boeiende onderdelen van de natuur!
      Ja, wij hebben dan toevallig die mooie verse Pleurotus uit eigen tuin kunnen oogsten en tot maaltijd kunnen verwerken maar anders laten we ze ook voor wat ze zijn hoor. Vers kopen is het veiligste.
      Liefs van ons beiden en een fijn weekend!
      Mariette

      Delete
  13. Dearest Mariette,
    I've spend almost my entire life the Marhrooms fings mushrooms are very interlsting cratues at same time highly misundersstood by most of us.
    People are They love or they hate them.Most mushrooms have short life span.The fruit boodies of mushrooms. My celium almost lives forever! The considerel creation of the devil.
    He ordered a toisstool to rise up from the earth. Toadstools growing in circles.
    We know,only a limited namber are edible.
    You and Pieter's a lots of about Mushrooms indied big delicious Thank you very much!
    My golfing was very well!
    Hugs and kisses both of you!
    Michiko

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Michiko,
      Funny world when spending time with mushrooms for decades! But always interesting as well and the Japanese Shii-take, our favorite, we love the most.
      Glad to read that your golfing went very well. Wishing you a lovely weekend!
      Mariette

      Delete
  14. Dear Mariette,So interesting post!. I always learn something new from you!I did'nt know about this!
    Have a lovely weekend!Hugs!
    Dimi...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Dimi,
      A different subject and who better than Pieter could fill this in...?
      Wishing you a lovely weekend as well.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  15. Liebe Mariette,
    du hast mal wieder sehr interessant und informativ gepostet - ich mag verschiedene Sorten Pilze gerne essen - am liebsten Pfifferlinge wegen ihres nussigen Geschmacks -
    natürlich gibt es einige sehr giftige Pilze - die oft recht hübsch anzusehen sind -

    ich wünsche dir ein sonniges Wochenende -

    liebe Grüße - Ruth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liebe Ruth,
      Danke, und ja die Pfifferlinge sind sehr lecker!
      Oft irrt man sich mut hübsch anzusehende Dinge... Aber am besten wir kaufen unsere Pilze.
      Liebe Grüsse und auch ein sonniges Wochenende wünscht dir,
      Mariette

      Delete
  16. Very interesting information about various fungi. I gather mushrooms in the forest with us and only those that I know of. Many of them drought. Regards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Giga,
      In your region it is quite common for gathering mushrooms so you know what you are doing.
      Also in northern Italy where we lived, they do gather a lot of Boletus edulis in the wild, which is delicious!
      Happy weekend and hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  17. lieve Mariette ..
    wat een intersanten post ...ook hier zijn er veel soorten
    paddestoelen in de bergen te vinden ...maar je moet wel
    iemand bij je hebben die er alles over weet .. ..
    een fijn weekend
    groetjes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lieve Nieneke,
      Bij jullie zal het wel een beetje op Italië lijken qua paddestoelen in de bergen, mogelijk ook Boletus edulis.
      Ook een heel fijn weekend toegewenst en liefs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  18. Hello Mariette, Thank you very much for this useful and very interesting information. I asked because in my country, some mushooms are called dog's pee and some are rat's ear. Those which are called dog's pee are believed to have grown from some kind of "mystic dog". It is kind of absurd yes. Also, toadstools alike are thought to be some "evil" so I remember some older people would tell kids not to play with them. I don't know if the belief came from the same legend but isn't it interesting to find some parallelism :)

    The drawing of a toad on the top is really funny by the way :)
    Thank you once more. I've learned much about mushrooms from this post. I don't really love mushrooms but I like them when cooked deliciously.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dearest Mari,
      You are quite welcome! Indeed those legends do show some parallelism and it is interesting to read about.
      We too love them when prepared well, and living in Italy we used to have a special 'fungi ristorante'... That was delicious!
      Enjoy your weekend, we will switch to summer time tonight and let's hope the weather will switch too.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete
  19. Ja, das ist traurig, daß immer wieder Menschen an Pilzvergiftungen sterben. Ich selbst sammele keine Pilze in freier Natur. Sie sind bei uns seit Tschernobyl immer noch belastet. Das wäre mir zu riskant. Außerdem hätte ich auch so wenig Vertrauen. Ich müßte die Sporen am Mikroskop untersuchen können um ganz sicherzugehen! Deshalb kaufe ich auch lieber Pilze im Supermarkt. ;-) Wir essen allerdings selten Pilze, weil meine Männer sie nicht mögen.
    Kröten mag ich sehr gern, sie haben goldene Augen und im Waldgarten hatten wir sie häufiger.
    Ich schließe mich an - ein wirklich interessantes Leben in der ganzen Welt!

    Liebe Grüße
    Sara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liebe Sara,
      Eben wenn man die Sporen unter einem Mikroskop untersucht muss man trotzdem sehr spezialisiert sein um sie zu erkennen! Mein Mann hat 2 Tage mitgelaufen mit die damalige Cheffin vom Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Baarn: http://www.cbs.knaw.nl/ da sie eine gute Freundin von Dr. Bels Koning war wofür Pieter arbeitete, ihr und ihrem Mann Drs. Pieter Bels.
      Wir essen auch nicht so oft Pilze aber ich mag sie ja sehr!
      Auch Kröten mag ich gerne.
      Liebe Grüsse,
      Mariette

      Delete
  20. Great stuff. Thanks for sending me this link, Mariette.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear David,
      Thank you for your excellent photo with toad on a toadstool!
      Hugs,
      Mariette

      Delete

Thanks for your visit and comment.

Mariette...

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