Outdoors just for kids: Mushrooms make a mighty wind

2014-01-02T00:00:00Z Outdoors just for kids: Mushrooms make a mighty wind The Billings Gazette

There’s an old song that has a verse that goes: “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”

Guess what? Scientists found out an answer to how mushrooms spread their spores and the answer was that the mushrooms were creating their own wind. How crazy is that?

Spores are like seeds. That’s how mushrooms reproduce. It was always thought that the spores scattered thanks to the wind, but that didn’t explain how they moved in unfriendly environments. The other theory was that the more spores a mushroom produced, the better were its chances of reproducing.

Scientists being the curious folks they are decided to study two types of mushrooms for answers – the Shiitake and oyster mushroom. Using high-speed videos and mathematics, they found that the mushrooms released water vapor — kind of like how you and I sweat. The vapor cooled the air right next to the mushrooms, creating air movement that could lift the light spores and scatter them.

I guess that means that mushrooms blow, right?

It just goes to show you that plants are much more complex than we think. They can even control their own environments and create winds where there were none. Think about that the next time you bite into a tasty mushroom.

— Brett French, Gazette outdoors editor

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Brett French

Outdoors editor for the Billings Gazette.

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