Article - Mushrooms
Mushrooms are belong to the plant kingdom despite of the fact that they do not contain chlorophyil and cannot photosynthesize. Approximately 400 species of mushroom are known in Israel but only 40 are edible. Most mushrooms are inedible and some are highly poisonous.
There are no simple morphologic characteristics to distinguish between the edible and poisonous mushroom. The fact that different animals feed on specific types of mushrooms and are unharmed by them does not mean that these mushrooms are suitable for human consumption. The fleshy mushrooms have many common features and in order to find out whether or not a mushroom is poisonous the species must be specifically identified.
A mushroom such as the “ Agaricus campester “ mushroom that grows in Israel in fields and gardens, can add an important source of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins to our diet. However, there are also dangerous poisonous mushrooms, such as the “Amanita verna“ which is found in oak forests. If eaten, this mushroom damages the kidneys and can be fatal. The “Amanita muscaria “ mushroom, found in the Mount Hermon area, causes damage to the nervous system and can also be fatal.
The best time to collect edible mushrooms in Israel is just after the first rains, in November, as well as during the winter months until March/April. During wet years mushrooms are abundant, but it can happen that during dry years the fruiting bodies of some species do not appear at all. It all depends on the humidity and temperature.
Edible mushrooms such as the “Suillus granulatus” mushroom are abundant in pine tree (pinus halepensis) forests. However other species of edible mushrooms can be also found in oak forests.
Mushrooms play an important role in the life cycle of natural habitats. The mushrooms improve the availability of water and nutrients.
Truffles (Terfezia leonis) are the most tasty mushrooms. They grow in Israel under the ground on the roots of Helianthemum sesiliforum, and only experts can find and collect them.
Professor Nissan Binyamini
Faculty of Plant Science, Tel Aviv University