Thank a Mushroom This Month

There are many different species of mushrooms, and they take several different colors and shapes.

September is an exciting time of year. It is the start of a new school year and the beginning of fall. It is also national mushroom month! This month we learn all about mushrooms and why they are important.

What is a mushroom?

Mushrooms are a type of fungus [a simple organism that is not a plant, animal, or bacterium]. The part of the mushroom that grows above the ground is called a fruiting body. The fruiting body is the structure that is responsible for reproduction, but most of a mushroom is found underground. The underground part is called the mycelium and consists of threadlike fibers that absorb nutrients.

Why are mushrooms important?

You might have noticed mushrooms growing in the forest or even in your yard. Mushrooms play an important role in ecosystems. Mushrooms are decomposers [organisms that break down dead plant and animal material.]  Mushrooms and other decomposers return the nutrients in dead materials to the soil.

Mushrooms are also an important food source for humans. Some types of mushrooms are edible, and they contain many nutrients that your body needs. But be careful what you eat! Many types of mushrooms are poisonous. Never pick and eat wild mushrooms unless you are with an expert.

How can you celebrate mushroom month?

During national mushroom month, the US Department of Agriculture encourages people to try new mushroom dishes. It is also a good time of year to take a hike and admire the beauty of the different types of mushrooms.

In Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, people celebrate with a mushroom festival, and they have good reason to celebrate! Mushrooms are the number 1 crop in the state. Pennsylvania grows more than 500 million pounds of mushrooms each year.

What Can You Do?    How will you celebrate national mushroom month?

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