The Wisdom of Mushrooms

BY ON September 28, 2016
Bioluminescent mushrooms. Source: Taylor Lockwood

Bioluminescent mushrooms. Source: Taylor Lockwood

This post was written by Taylor F. Lockwood, a nature photographer renowned for photographing mushrooms and other fungi around the world. It originally appeared on Nexus Media.

As the planet changes, we may have change the way we navigate the world around us, and to do so, we can learn from the successes of mushrooms and other fungi. (Tweet this)

Many of us are trying to redirect the course of humanity. Unfortunately, we might not succeed in reversing course, and we may be past the point when we could return to the way things were. Fungi were some of the earliest higher life forms to emerge on Earth, and although they might not have the brains of humans, the way they deal with adverse conditions — and their continued success over hundreds of millions of years — provides lessons for all of us.

Be energy efficient.

Neonothopanus gardneri. Source: Taylor Lockwood

Neonothopanus gardneri. Some mushrooms have developed the ability to make their own light through bioluminescence. This is thought to attract spore-vector insects. Bioluminescence is a highly efficient light source and is on continuously through a mushroom’s bloom cycle. For humans, the lesson is simple: as we become more proficient in producing light, limited energy resources can be redirected to other needs. Source: Taylor Lockwood

Find a good source of water.

Hydnellum aurantiacum.  Source: Taylor Lockwood

Hydnellum aurantiacum. Fungi will not propagate without an adequate source of water. So the first thing spores do, like plants, is drill wells with their mycelium. While they have the option to lie dormant, we have the option to travel, as well as be creative, in our quest for water. Technology exists to recycle 100 percent of the water we use, but we should be prepared to relocate to areas that will have the rainfall, snowpack or aquifers to sustain us. Source: Taylor Lockwood

Be ready to move.

Hemitrichia serpula.  Source: Taylor Lockwood

Hemitrichia serpula. Location, location, location. Although mushrooms don’t have feet, wings or wheels, they move about by casting their spores to the wind and start living where conditions are more favorable. Some of the Myxomycetes — now in a class of their own — are able to move-like animals-to other resources. For many, relocation will be necessary to survive climate change. Source: Taylor Lockwood

Change your diet.

Pleurotus djamor.  Source: Taylor Lockwood

Pleurotus djamor. Most mushrooms that are recyclers live on a variety of plants. The ones that have a limited diet might have to change their ways. Although there are carnivorous fungi, the vast majority are vegetarian or symbiotic with plants. That should tell us something. We already know that raising animals is far more time- and water-consuming than growing vegetables. For humans, fungi are a good, easy-to-grow source of nutrition, and they can be cultivated inside using recycled materials and recycled water. Source: Taylor Lockwood

Stay clear of flood zones.

Amanita pruittii.  Source: Taylor Lockwood

Amanita pruittii. Like humans, mushrooms like water. Also like us, they can be wiped out or seriously hampered by too much of it. The lesson? Be prepared for extreme weather. We are going to get it. For many, relocation will be necessary to survive climate change. Not all mushrooms live in wet, tropical areas—many live in deserts, underground. Living partially or fully underground has certainly sustained species—including mammals—through many evolutionary bottlenecks. The major requirement is a dependable source of water. In desert areas, that would most likely be an underground aquifer or recycled water. Source: Taylor Lockwood

Learn to recycle.

Hygrocybe coccinea.  Source: Taylor Lockwood

Hygrocybe coccinea. The story of Earth is a story of recycling: recycled land masses, recycled water, recycled organic matter—millions and millions of times over. In the past, mushrooms and other fungi were called decomposers. However, that is a limited, human-centric point of view. In the greater picture, they are recyclers, turning available organic matter into food, housing and building materials for other plants, animals and fungi. Expanding recycling will help the Earth’s natural recycling process. Source: Taylor Lockwood

Listen to the Earth.

Pholiota squarrosa.  Source: Taylor Lockwood

Pholiota squarrosa. We need to stay intimately connected with plants. About 90 percent of the vascular plants on Earth have a symbiotic mushroom partner. Many of the wild mushrooms we eat and treasure are have symbiotic relationships with trees and other plants. It would be a good practice for us to consider all the plants on Earth as partners, just as mushrooms and other fungi have done. Source: Taylor Lockwood

This story by Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, politics, art and culture, was used with permission.

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TOPICS: Climate Change