4 Mushroom Categories: Know Which Type of Mushroom to Grow

If you want to grow mushrooms but you’re not sure what kind of mushroom to grow, this is an article for you. As you know, there are so many mushroom species such as Shiitake, Cordyceps, Reishi, White Button, and Morels. 

Some mushrooms share similar characteristics that experts have grouped them into a category. All in all, there are four different mushroom categories. These are the endophytic, parasitic, mycorrhizal, and saprotrophic. 

The way that mushrooms are categorized based on how they get nutrients. If you know and understand the differences and similarities among mushrooms, you’ll be able to decide which kinds are the best to grow. 

Saprotrophic Mushrooms

You may already be familiar with Saprotophic mushrooms. Many of the mushrooms that we can eat are examples of this category. It includes shiitake, portabella, white button, cremini, and morels. Saprotrophic mushrooms grow on decaying or dead wood. They can break down the wood’s plant matter and convert them into the nutrients they need to thrive. 

In doing so, these mushrooms help speed up the decomposition of the wood they are growing on. 

As for the conditions needed for the saprotrophic mushrooms flourish, oxygen, water, and a 7 or less pH level are what’s required. They also prefer cooler temperatures. This mushroom category can group further into two sub-categories: wood decay mushrooms and litter decomposers. 

The litter decomposers are great at breaking down plant matter. You can see them usually growing on the ground. As for wood decay mushrooms, they grow on trees. Most of the saprotrophic mushrooms belong to the litter decomposer group. But a popular mushroom, the reishi, is a wood decay mushroom. 

Mycorrhizal Mushrooms

This mushroom category is composed of mushrooms that are in a symbiotic relationship with the plant host. It’s good because both the mushroom and the plant benefit from the relationship. 

Mycorrhizal mushrooms get their sugar from the plant host, which is necessary for the mushroom will thrive. The plant host, on the other hand, gets water as well as protection from plant diseases. 

The mycorrhizal category has many sub-categories. Nevertheless, most of the mycorrhizal mushrooms belong under the ectomycorrhizas sub-category. Such mushrooms connect to the root system of the plant host. 

They also grow on the soil and can extend the host’s root system so both the host and the mushroom get to have access to various nutrients found in the soil. Some popular mycorrhizal mushrooms are chanterelles and truffles. 

Parasitic Mushrooms

As the name suggests, parasitic mushrooms get the nutrients that they need from the host. Among the popular parasitic mushrooms are cordyceps. This kind of mushroom grows on the back of bugs or caterpillars. They replace the tissues of the host with their tissues.  

The lion’s mane and Chaga are also examples of parasitic mushrooms. But unlike those growing on bugs, they grow on the barks of trees. Eventually, parasitic mushrooms can kill their host. Some of these mushrooms also can attach themselves to humans. When this happens, it can cause infections and other medical issues that can be serious. 

Endophytic Mushrooms

The endophytic mushrooms category is perhaps the most complex one among these mentioned. They are similar to parasitic mushrooms because they can also replace the tissues of their host. What’s different about them is that they don’t cause harm to the host. The relationship they have is a symbiotic one. 

Endophytic mushrooms can help their plant hosts by providing nutrients, water, as well as protection from plant diseases. Most plants have, in one way or another, nurture a symbiotic relationship with endophytic mushrooms. Many mushrooms under this category are easily grown in laboratories. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many mushroom types and even more under the sub-categories of these four main mushroom categories. They have many similarities, but they can be truly unique as well. The morel mushroom is decadent while the portabella is meaty. Knowing more about mushrooms can help you find ones that you can grow and enjoy. 

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