The Key Differences Between Mushrooms and Plants

mushroom roots

It is entirely possible that the headline might confuse you. There is a good chance that you thought mushrooms are a specific type of plants. However, this could not be further from the truth. The blame is not yours but one that can be chalked up to faulty public perceptions more than anything else. Mushrooms are fundamentally different to plants in the many ways, which can be due to their different feeding habits and the conditions they require in order to grow. There is one single similarity that ties both mushrooms and plants together. This is the fact that they are both organic and the output of our mother nature’s production processes. This goes to the natural conclusion that both mushrooms and plants have similar health benefits as well. Due to their organic nature, both mushrooms and plants (edible) are extremely beneficial for the human body. In the 21st century, the use of synthetic food products has reached a point where microplastics are being found in the bloodstream of human beings. Almost everything we eat has been put through meticulous yet toxic processes that are extremely detrimental to human health.

Everything that has been blessed with the ‘touch of plastic’ will have a negative effect on your health one way or another. Let’s not even talk about the second-order effects of plastic usage, which extend to pollution and waste dumping in the sea. There are literal islands that are made of plastic right now floating around in our oceans. At this crucial juncture in time, we must ask ourselves this question: How are we giving back to the same mother nature that has nurtured us for so long. The same mother nature that has been feeding generations upon generations of the human race and has never asked for anything in return. Even today’s more climate-conscious attitude can be chalked up more due to a selfish desire to survive rather than true guilt. This is why we have to realize that mushrooms and plants are indeed the way of the future. So, it would be a good thing to get our definitions right. This is a guide so that you are avoided the embarrassment of typing ‘do mushrooms produce seeds’ or ‘how do mushrooms grow’ in Google. Without further ado, let’s get into the key differences between mushrooms and plants. If you are interested in growing mushrooms, a blue oyster kit might be a great way to start since they are quite resilient even in less-than-ideal conditions.

Food Source

One of the ways that mushrooms are generally differentiated from plants is the way both obtain their foods. Plants are able to obtain their food through the process of photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, plants use the sun as an energy source and create their food that they use to nourish themselves. I doubt that a more complex explanation is needed for this as we all have studied the process of photosynthesis and seen how that works. On the other hand, the process using which mushrooms process their food is quite interesting. The mycelium of mushrooms grows around the food source and using the secretions of digestive enzymes is able to nourish itself. This also naturally means that mushrooms don’t need to be in the sunlight in order to grow. In fact, they require exactly the opposite conditions. This has meant that indoor farmers who grow mushrooms at home are greatly facilitated as well. Wild mushrooms also generally grow in thickly wooded areas where the cover of the shade blocks out all possibility of sunlight.

Conditions of Growth

For plants, this one is fairly obvious. Plants need a combination of good sunlight, water and carbon dioxide in order to grow. Agricultural land and meadows become the best places for the growth of plants because they have all 3 things in spades. The vast undulating lands means that all of the plants are able to get their required share of sunlight and the advent of canals in the past few hundred years has also ensured that most of these places will be guaranteed with a supply of water as well. However, this presents a problem as well. Plants need a lot of area in order to grow and be able to acquire the sunlight that they need. In the urban landscapes of today, a lot of area is something that most people can’t afford anymore. So, for urban farmers who are eager to grow things, the only option left is mushrooms.

Mushrooms like dark, cool, and humid environments. The first image that comes into one’s mind when these three words are used is one of a basement, which is also the best place possible for growing mushrooms at home. The best-recommended temperature for mushroom growth is 55 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It also must be kept in mind that in order to grow mushrooms, these conditions must be followed to perfection. This is the main reason why a lot of people are apprehensive about growing mushrooms. It requires a high skill level to grow mushrooms. However, the recent advent of mushroom grow kits such as blue oyster mushroom grow kits, lion’s mane mushroom grow kits and pink oyster mushroom grow kits has meant that the learning curve required in order to grow mushrooms has come down drastically. Essentially, mushroom grow kits take the first few steps out of the growing process. Incidentally, these first few steps are actually the harder ones to master. For amateur indoor farmers, this is very good news.

Occupy Different Parts of The Food Chain

Nature is perhaps the only thing that we can say with conclusiveness is completely real. The way the equilibrium was set up by nature itself is simply masterful as well. There are some producers in food chain equilibrium as well some decomposers as well. The food chain cannot function without producers or decomposers. If there are no producers of food, then there is no food chain at all. If there are no decomposers, then there is no waste management system. Plants are the producers of food. The fruits of plants are consumed by animals who are in turn eaten by carnivores or omnivores. Eventually, the chain reaches the decomposers who occupy the place at the very bottom of the food chain. They are nature’s own waste managers, and they are extremely efficient. Mushrooms can be considered as decomposers.

What is perhaps even poetic is the fact that there is a natural balance to all of this. There are no decomposers without producers and there are no producers without decomposers. This natural balance is disrupted by the use and abuse of plastics. You might have heard of the term biodegradable. Biodegradable is essentially things that can be broken down (decomposed) by agents of nature and thus fit into the food chain. Plastics on the other hand are non-biodegradable and thus form a block in the food chain. They are eternally left to be in the form that they are, unless they are burnt, which is an absolutely atrocious result when you look at it in terms of nature.

Food Source

Usually, plants store their food in the form of starch. Starch is easily consumable for human beings and provides energy when required. Mushrooms on the other hand store their food in the form of glycogen. The energy that is stored in our muscles is stored in the form of glycogen. This form is easily accessible as a source of ‘instant energy’ and explains exactly why mushrooms are considered to be a healthy addition to the human diet. Their advantages include a more powerful immune system, improved heart health, and consequently mental health. Research has shown that the consumption of mushrooms might be used in order to combat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. As we grow older, our brains lose their plasticity and ability to learn. Thus, neurodegeneration is a very real and frightening prospect for every one of us.

So, these are the differences between mushrooms and plants. Structurally, they are completely different and form different parts of the food chain. However, the value that they can add to your life if added to your diet is similar. Our world is slowly becoming conscious of the fact that we need to consume more and more organic foods and both mushrooms and plants can play an important role in that process. One is a producer that uses the sun’s energy to create fruits. The other is a decomposer that makes sure that waste is never waster, a true equilibrium at work.