Mushrooms are a strange, fascinating and unique type of organisms, and members of the Fungi kingdom. 

The mushrooms most of us are familiar with are common edible mushrooms, and these can usually found in many grocery stores. But one species of mushroom is anything but common, and that is the giant mushroom.

What Are Giant Mushrooms and Where Do They Grow?

Giant mushrooms are a highly sought-after fungus due to their large size, intricate morphology and the potential of some species to be edible. As the name implies, giant mushrooms are mushrooms that grow abnormally large, with some specimens weighing over 25 pounds.

Most giant mushroom species come from the Basidiomycota phylum. This phylum includes fungi that form club-shaped reproductive structures called basidia, which are sites of spore formation.

Deep in the tropical rainforests of South America, some species of giant mushrooms grow. Giant mushrooms primarily grow in humid and damp settings, particularly in areas with high nitrogen and phosphorus availability in soil. Mushroom logs, long-term decomposing logs, are a preferred growing medium for these mushrooms.

Different Types of Giant Mushrooms

The scientifically accepted genus for giant mushrooms is Agaricus, which includes several species of these mushrooms.

Agaricus augustus: Agaricus augustus is an edible mushroom species with a large, round cap. It can be found in Europe, North America and other parts of the world. This mushroom species is also referred to as Prince, Onion or Caesar’s Mushroom.

Agaricus brasiliensis: This mushroom is more commonly known as the ‘Brazilian Sunrise Mushroom’ due to its orange-brown colouring. This mushroom has a delicate taste and is a popular edible species.

Amanita ocreata: Amanita ocreata is also known as the ‘Angel of Death’ or ‘Destroying Angel’ due to its toxicity. It is found in the same parts of the world as the other giant mushroom species, and its presence is of great importance in the ecosystem.

Benefits of Eating Giant Mushrooms

Giant mushrooms can be a healthy and nutritious addition to your diet. Mushrooms are very low in calories and fat, yet full of essential nutrients like protein, potassium and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

Some of the health benefits associated with giant mushrooms include:

-Boosting the immune system: Mushrooms contain a range of components and compounds (such as Pleuran and Lentinan) which help to regulate and strengthen the immune system.

-Fighting disease: Giant mushrooms contain special plant compounds that fight against various diseases, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.

-Improving heart health: Giant mushrooms are high in dietary fiber which helps to lower bad cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure and improve overall heart health.

Harvesting Giant Mushrooms

Harvesting giant mushrooms is not an easy task. It needs patience and a deep understanding of the mushroom’s life cycle.

Giant mushrooms are generally harvested in three stages:

  1. Scouting: Eager foragers scout for mushrooms in the rainforest using sharpened wood staffs to probe the ground and uncover any hidden mushrooms.

  2. Reap: The giant mushrooms are found, and then carefully reaped from their growth medium with hand tools and a sharp knife, making sure not to damage the mushroom’s delicate surface area.

  3. Aging: Giant mushrooms take time to mature, and must be matured for a certain period before being reaped and sold for consumption.

Uses for Giant Mushrooms

Giant mushrooms have a wide range of uses. They can be used for culinary purposes, medicinal purposes, textile dye and as ingredients in cosmetics.

Culinary: Giant mushrooms are popular edible species which can be cooked in a variety of ways. They are commonly served as part of a main course and can also be used in soups, sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes.

Medicinal: Giant mushrooms have many medicinal properties which can help to treat various conditions. Mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and promote healthy digestion.

Textile Dye: Giant mushrooms can also be used as a natural dye for fabrics. The mushroom’s natural colour can be used to produce brown, blue and black shades.

Cosmetics: Giant mushrooms are rich in proteins and vitamins, which makes them a key ingredient in natural beauty products. Products like shampoos, body lotions and facial masks can contain giant mushroom extract as a supplement.

Giant mushrooms are a unique species of mushroom that are highly sought-after due to their large size and potential to be edible. Giant mushrooms come from the Basidiomycota phylum, and primarily grow in humid and damp region of the world. Giant mushrooms are rich in essential nutrients, and have a range of culinary, medicinal, dye and cosmetic uses.