MUSHROOMS IN GENERAL
Hardly anyone knows it, but mushrooms are in fact neither plants nor animals. They represent their own unique group among the so-called “eukaryotes”, living organisms that have a typical cell core. Contrary to plants, which mushrooms were classified as for a long time, they do not have any chlorophyll nor photosynthesis. The mushroom metabolism is based more on chemosynthesis. They transform organic substances including wood into chemical compounds through enzymes, leading to the formation of new earth materials. Mushrooms fulfil very important tasks in nature. They detoxify the earth, like algae in water. They also ensure, for example, that minerals and nutrients in the earth can be processed by plants. They also break down dead organisms into their components that then enter the natural cycle again as nutrients.
The importance of mushrooms for human beings goes way back. Apart from their function as a food, the healing effect of mushrooms has been prized for thousands of years in Asia and North America. They were even already used in this function in ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. In Central Europe, the healing powers of certain mushrooms were known far back in the Middle Ages, but the knowledge about edible and medicinal mushrooms was virtually lost later.