And what the heck is mycelium?
First, we have to understand what a mushroom is. Those beautiful pink fans you grab at the farmers’ market are the fruiting body of a larger organism: the fungus. If mushroom is equal to apple, then tree is equal to fungus.
TREES produce apples.
FUNGI produce mushrooms.
It all starts with a spore.
Mushrooms drop hundreds of thousands of spores from the gills beneath their caps. Think of each spore that is either male or female.
Like spores form groups.
Male spores latch onto other male spores and female spores group with other female spores. These friend groups of same-sex spores form what’s called hyphae. When female and male hyphae come into contact with each other– well… This is where the magic happens.
When male hyphae and female hyphae really love each other…
Or rather, when they first meet, they combine and start to produce mycelium. Think of mycelium as a web-like root system. It remains in the ground but can extend out, creating a stable place for the fungi to produce mushrooms.
Shortly after, a pin forms.
With the hyphae all knotted up in clusters, they begin the process of producing baby mushrooms. They look like tiny pinheads, often referred to as the pinning stage.
Eventually, the healthiest pins grow into mushrooms which release spores, and the life cycle continues.
It's the circle of life!