Mushroom Extracts: Understanding The Stages And Structures Of A Mushrooms Life Cycle
By now, if you've been on the journey into researching the health advantages of functional mushrooms, you've likely come across the terms "mycelium" and "fruiting body." But what does that mean? And what is it exactly that goes into mushroom extract?
Mushrooms are fascinating and intricate organisms. Part of understanding their numerous health benefits also means understanding more about their structure and life cycle in order to have as much information as possible.
Below we look at the different stages and structures that make up a mushroom's life cycle and what parts of it are used in mushroom extracts.
Identifying The Parts Of A Mushroom
Mushrooms are fungal organisms known as basidiomycetes (except for the cordyceps mushroom — which is called an ascomycete). Basidiomycetes have three distinguished parts that develop throughout their lifecycle: spores, mycelium, and mushroom (fruiting bodies).
When you think of a mushroom, the first thing you picture is its cap and stem; this is called the fruiting body. They make up the organism's reproductive structure. But beneath the surface, you'll find a web of mycelial fibres that both form and support the fruiting body.
Spores: The spores are in the air surrounding us, and if conditions are favourable, they will germinate and begin branching out filaments called hyphae. As the hyphae expand, they will join together to produce mycelium.
Mycelium: To put it simply, the mycelium is the whitish, root-like filaments that make up the fungus' cell structure. In the wild, it's generally hidden, growing in some form of growing substrate, feeding on organic plant matter. If you've ever raised a boulder in the woods or uprooted a dead tree and noticed the white fibrous stuff below, you've most likely encountered mycelium.
This stage of a mushroom's life cycle is considered its vegetative state. During this stage, the mycelium branches out in a dendritic pattern, seeking water and nutrients. In doing this, it produces enzymes that break down the surrounding plant material, or substrate, and return the nutrients back to the soil.
Mushroom (fruiting body): If conditions are favourable for growth, the mycelium will form a fruiting body that we know as a mushroom. When this structure is fully developed, the organism is in its reproductive stage—completing its lifecycle by generating spores that all carry the potential to form new mycelial networks.
Mycelial networks can exist for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and span immense distances. In fact, there is a mycelial mat of a honey mushroom in Oregon, USA, that spreads over 8.9 square kilometres and is almost 2,000 years old!
Mushroom fruiting bodies have a long history of human use, spanning back centuries throughout many ancient cultures. Humans only discovered how to grow and isolate mycelium for use about 100 years ago.
It is compounds from both the fruiting body and mycelium that are isolated for use in different types of extracts and supplements and are often combined to give a full spectrum of health and wellness benefits.
New To Buying Functional Mushrooms
If you are new to buying mushroom extracts in NZ but don't know where to begin, you've come to the right place. Flow State aims to cut through all of the jargon and make the numerous associated health and wellness benefits as accessible as possible.
Flow states extracts are sourced from each mushroom's spiritual homeland of China and Siberia. These mushrooms are authentically cultivated and organically sourced in greenhouses with natural lighting and airflow. We are partnered with a Chinese based Canadian company with the infrastructure in place that ensures extracts are free from heavy metals, contaminants and agricultural chemicals. Each batch is quality tested in New Zealand for safety and potency.