Gratitude to Fungi
The first flush of autumn fungi, are, themselves, starting to decay, but whilst the mild weather continues, there are still lots to be seen. From tiny caps on delicate stems, to brightly coloured moulds, to clusters of frilled mushrooms blooming out of deadwood, to classic toadstools – broad and squat, parasoling the leaf-strewn ground.
Each of these, that we can see, is the fruiting body of a much larger organism, which can cover thousands of acres and weigh hundreds of tonnes. But they are difficult to see, not only because they live in soil and deadwood, but also because they are made of microscopically thin fibres, known as hyphae. One teaspoon of soil may contain miles of hyphae, in a dense tangle, together called the mycelium.
Fungi, neither plant nor animal, are in a Kingdom all of their own. These species are essential to all life on earth, because they are able to breakdown the cell structures of plants into the building blocks that can be used again for life and growth.
Some fungi get their food through symbiotic relationships with plants. By connecting to the root tips, the mycelium increase the ‘root’ surface for water and nutrient uptake and can double a tree’s intake of nitrogen and phosphorous. In return, the fungal helpers take a share of the sugars and carbohydrates that a tree produces.
More remarkably, mycelium, by connecting to more than one tree, species, or even an entire forest, share resources and food between all these trees. Despite fighting for light in their canopies, below ground mycelium ensure that the trees are supporting one another. This equitable distribution of resources ensures the best health of each tree and the forest as a whole, maintaining a stable state. Stability and safety equal peace, providing a place where young, old and different species can all flourish far into the future.
Are you impressed?
Show your appreciation to fungi by:
Providing lots of fungi food. Let them tidy up your garden for you (it is what they are good at!) – save some piles, or patches, of garden clippings, wood, leaves and so on.
In the spirit of fungi:
Reuse or return unneeded goods to the human system. Practice the Japanese act of clearing out consumer goods:
断 “Dan” – Refuse things that are not necessary
捨 “Sha” – Dispose of things that are not necessary
離 “Li” – Separate yourself from attachment to possessions
Say “Thank You” to someone who cleans your space. Often we do not acknowledge the true value of those human cleaners and refuse workers, to whom our communities are indebted. “