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July 19, 2021 4 min read

Mushrooms are a very popular ingredient, recognized as a nutrient-rich compound that has the potential to improve people’s quality of life. Mushrooms can be a source of vitamins, minerals, and adaptogens with the potential to support the body’s immune system, manage stressful episodes, and help stimulate cognitive performance.

In particular, plant-based mushrooms are coveted superfoods that contain notable quantities of adaptogens to support health and well-being. When consumed in the form of mushroom powder, people can add the health benefits of plant-based mushrooms to their daily dietary routines without devoting time and energy towards cooking the mushrooms.

Additionally, mushroom powders can be easily added to a morning cup of coffee, tea, or other favorite beverage. One spoonful of powder can be enough to provide the health benefits of mushrooms in your system and support your body’s overall health.

You might be wondering, ‘this is all well and good, but how do plant-based mushrooms come to be a food ripe for consumption?’ Terms like mycelium and fruiting body describe part of the mushroom life cycle, but what exactly is mycelium vs. fruiting body, and what does it mean for the quality of the mushroom? That’s what we’re going to look at in this article.

What is the mushroom life cycle?

Mushrooms typically grow in the wild, often in cold temperate climates that enable the mushrooms to grow into the size and shape we’ve come to know - a pillar shape with bell shaped cap. Typically, when a mushroom completes its life cycle it will grow out of the ground  in ‘mushroom  shape’, and will be ready to be picked and or consumed.

The mushroom life cycle begins when a small compound known as a primordium emerges from trees and logs in wild environments. Exposed to the elements, the primordium expands into a larger structure known as hyphae. Once hyphae becomes a solid compound, mycelium begins to emerge from the structure and take root within the soil to further enrich the development process.

Hyphae absorbs the mycelium and uses the nutrients to continue expanding through the life cycle. Eventually, it produces the typical mushroom consisting of a stem, a cap, and gills that resemble the look and feel of mushrooms as we recognize them today.

What is mycelium?

Mycelium is the vegetative part of a mushroom, and it appears as a hive-like collection of threads that layer in the soil. Mycelium is very important to the health and well-being of soil used to grow mushrooms and other compounds. It helps break down organic materials and fertilize the soil so that other organic compounds have the materials they need to grow and flourish.

Mycelium assists the mushroom life cycle by controlling temperature, CO2, humidity and airflow to influence the growth of the mushrooms.‡ Mycelium helps mushrooms become healthy, vibrant substances capable of producing the nutrients and adaptogens that enrich people’s health and improve their quality of life.‡

What is a mushroom fruiting body?

Part of the mushroom life cycle requires primordium, hyphae, and mycelium to produce spores that feed off the soil and develop into a standard mushroom.‡ Mushroom fruiting bodies trigger the process known as sporogenesis, which allows the cells within primordium to germinate within the soil and start growing into a full mushroom.‡

The mushroom fruiting body breaks down organic cells from the primordium, releasing the nutrients within those cells into the soil. As the cells produce hyphae and mycelium is triggered to further enrich the soil around the compound, the mushrooms begin to develop into the shapes that we commonly identify as mushrooms.‡

Mycelium vs. fruiting body

Debates can go on for significant periods of time regarding mycelium vs. fruiting body, and which is the more beneficial process to enrich the growth of mushrooms. But rather than figure out how to get the two processes to compete with each other, it can actually be more beneficial and yield greater supplies of mushrooms by enabling the two processes to work together.

When the mushroom life cycle reaches its completion, the fruiting body is recognized as the mushroom cap and stem. The fruiting body is what we visually associate with mushrooms. Below the surface are the web of fibers that connect the stem to the soil; this is the mycelium that feeds on the soil’s nutrients to enable the growth of the mushroom.‡

Benefits of mycelium vs. fruiting body

Mycelium and the fruiting body are integral to the mushroom life cycle. Working in tandem, they help create the mushrooms that flourish in the wild so that they can be picked and consumed as part of a commitment to healthy living.

Mushrooms like reishi and lion’s mane both grow in rich soils due to the processes of mycelium and fruiting bodies. Reishi mushrooms help relax the mind and help the body adapt to stressful situations.‡ Lion’s mane mushrooms support brain health, encouraging greater focus, sharper clarity, and improved cognitive performance.‡ Both mushrooms are commonly consumed in the form of mushroom powders that further enrich people’s dietary regimens.‡

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