Monday, March 24, 2008

Fungi Fun

Tomorrow, we'll do our next "challenge" in Barb's Green Hour Challenges. But, for now, I've been reading more about fungi (singular: fungus) and have found it so fascinating! Hopefully, some of you will enjoy this and learn a thing or two, also. (Quotes are from Plants Without Leaves by Ross E. Hutchins.)
  • "The study of fungi is called mycology and scientists who specialize in their study are called mycologists."
  • "Fungi unlike most other plants, do not contain green chlorophyll and so cannot manufacture their own food. For this reason they must obtain their nourishment from other forms of life, either plant or animal."
  • "Some of the most serious and destructive plant diseases are caused by fungi. The great Irish famine of 1845 to 1860 caused by late blight of potatoes, a fungus disease which destroyed crops, causing a million people to die of starvation. During this time, another million and a half people were forced to emigrate to other countries, including the United States. The Irish people had become so dependent upon potatoes that the loss of this crop brought about widespread starvation." (Alexandra and I just finished reading a book about the Irish potato famine, Katie's Wish by Hazen.) (Also, online I've found the famine lasted from 1845 to 1849 or so - I need to check these dates.)
  • "There are also a number of serious animal and human diseases caused by fungi; the most common of these is athlete's foot, a fungus infection of the skin."
  • "... many fungi are useful to us both as sources of food and of important drugs. Penicillin, for exmple, is produced by Penicillium fungu or mold."
  • "Yeasts, also classified as fungi, are of importance to man. While some yeasts are harmful, others cause the fermentation of sugar, resulting in the production of carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. Baker's yeast, of course, causes bread to rise by its production of gas. The flavors of various kinds of cheeses result from special kinds of molds."
  • "While a few mushrooms, sometimes called toadstools, are poisonous, many may be edible."
  • "Now and then, large circular rings of mushrooms appear overnight on lawns and often cause considerable comment and wonder. In former years, knowing little about the natural growth processes of fungi, often attached supernatural interpretations to these so-called 'fairy rings.'"

There were so many more intersting facts about fungi in this book - and that's only one chapter! I can't wait to learn more!!!


Rhonda said...

These were all interesting facts. Thank you for sharing them. We learned about the "Potato Famine" when were studying about the Irish in our St. Patrick's day lessons. I have to admit, it was something that I never knew about, but enjoyed learning about it with my girls.

live4evermom said...

Very interesting stuff. Glad you joined Barb for the Green Hour. I'm learning so much from you. We have our own Green Time at our house. Gotta get out there while it's still nice and cool.

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