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Forest Education


Mushrooms Are Fun-Guys!!                    

Target Grade:  Gr. 5-8

References

Barron, George. 1999.  Mushrooms of Northeast No. America. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Adams, Gerard, et al. 2002. Edible & Poisonous Mushrooms of Michigan. Workshop booklet.

Richter, Dana. School of Forestry & Wood Products.  Personal communication: September 17, 2002.

 

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Explain the role of fungi in the forest.
  2. List and describe five of the nine groups of fungi.
  3. Explain what part of the fungi, the mushroom is.
  4. List four places where mushrooms commonly grow (on trees, downed tree trunks, leaf litter, w/ tree roots).
  5. Explain how to make a spore print.
  6. Identify the parts of the mushroom – cap, hyphae, stalk, gills.
  7. Take proper precautions --- never eat unless with an expert; 4% are toxic.

 

Materials

Clipboards/paper      pencils            Guidebooks on Mushroom ID   
Dry Erase board   Dry erase markers   white sheet for displaying mushrooms
Trowel    colored paper/index cards  shoeboxes/baskets/paper bags for collecting mushrooms

Introduction

 Why are mushroom important? ----

  • Only decomposer of wood (breaks down cellulose). Fungi have their “stomach” on the outside as they release enzymes that decompose wood. (The paper-making process tries to synthesize this chemical to break down wood for making paper.)
  • Decompose leaf litter and dead plant and animal matter, returning nutrients to the soil.
  • Source of food for squirrels, other rodents, deer, people.
  • Improve tree growth---myccorhizae enhance uptake of water and nutrients by tree roots.

 

Mycology – Study of Fungi

  • There are 6 million species of fungi in the world…..but many are microscopic.
  • 2,500 species in Michigan: 4% of these species are poisonous (~ 15 species). 75% are inedible (they don’t taste good, or are woody, etc.). 2% are edible.
  • Safety:  must ingest an amount the size of your thumb (1 cm3) to be poisoned. Cannot be poisoned by just handling a poisonous mushroom--must eat!.
  • Fungi are one of 5 Kingdoms of Living Organisms on earth.
  • Fungi need a source of sugar/carbohydrates, since they don’t photosynthesize. Cellulose is a good source of “sugar.”

 

Nine Groups of Mushrooms  (Show example of each group from book)

  1. Slime Molds
  2. Sac Fungi
  3. Puffballs and Friends
  4. Bracket fungi
  5. Jelly Fungi
  6. Coral Fungi
  7. Tooth Fungi
  8. Boletes
  9. Gill Fungi – these are identified by the color and characteristics of spores (dark, brown, pink, white)

 

Draw and label parts of Mushroom (drawing): cap, stalk, spores, roots/hyphae, gills, ring (optional)

 

Mushrooms are the “fruiting bodies” or reproductive parts of fungi, since they produce the spores. They spread through the soil by hyphae or rhizomorphs that are thinner than a human hair, (ex. Crystal Falls humongous fungus). 

 

Fungal Interrelationships in the Forest

  • Parasitic fungi – some mushrooms grow on other organisms.
  • Mutualistic fungi - fungal myccorhizae enhance the uptake of water and nutrients by tree roots.
  • Saprophytic fungi – grow on dead plant material

 

Eating Mushrooms

  • Most mushrooms are neither poisonous nor edible, because too woody, too small, or have a bad taste.
  • NEVER eat a mushroom unless you or an expert knows for sure that it is edible.
  • Would need to eat an amount the size of your thumb for it to be poisonous.
  • Some poisonous mushrooms can have a delayed effect….up to 3 weeks.
  • Just because animals eat it, doesn’t make it edible for us.

 

 

ACTIVITY  #1 ~ Mushroom Search (working in groups of 3 students)

1.      Find three mushrooms and bring back to share with group.

2.      Record the habitat where each was found.

3.      Draw a picture of each of the mushrooms showing detail---size, color.

4.      Determine which group your mushroom belongs to.

5.      Share what you found.

 

ACTIVITY #2  ~ Making A Spore Prints

·        Select a gilled mushroom.

·        Carefully remove the stalk/stem.

·        Turn the mushroom cap over onto an index card, or piece of colored paper. (Since you won’t know if your spores will be dark or light colored, try using red or yellow paper. White spores will show up better on a colored paper.)

·        Cover the overturned mushroom with a dish or other container to prevent air movement that will scatter the spores.

·        Let overturned mushroom sit for 3-4 hours, or overnight.

·        Remove and discard mushroom cap. Display the spore print!

 

 

Extensions

1.      Measure rate of growth of an individual mushroom over 5 days (they grow incredibly fast!).

2.      Compare numbers and types of mushrooms found in different forest types: oak, maple, red pine, jack pine, etc.

3.      Make mushroom mount for display & preservation.

 

SUMMARY

  • Explain the role of fungi in the forest.
  • List and describe five of the nine groups of fungi.
  • Explain what part of the fungi, the mushroom is.
  • List four places where mushrooms commonly grow (on trees, downed tree trunks, leaf litter, w/ tree roots).
  • Explain how to make a spore print.
  • Identify the parts of the mushroom – cap, hyphae, stalk, gills.

§         Should you ever eat fungi that you find in the forest?

 

 

ASSESSMENT

 

Fungus Fiction

 

Write a fictional story about the day the fungi died. You could write this as a newspaper story, a short fiction novel, a children’s story or a poem.

 

Rubric

____/3 Discuss the different types of mushrooms.

____/3 Discuss the roles that fungi play in the environment (parasites, decomposers, etc.)

____/3 Describe the process of decomposition and how fungi are different from other decomposers when it comes to decaying wood

____/3 Story includes good details

____/3 Story is creative and interesting (plot)

____/3 Grammar and spelling are correct

____/3 Includes photos or drawings (labeled)

 

 

Last Update: June 16, 2008
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