There is a lot of controversy about mushrooms growing in poop. Is it true or not?
Mushrooms can grow in poop, and it’s not only for the fun of it but for the nutrients too. Mushrooms are actually quite good at absorbing and using nutrients from waste material to grow and reproduce. However, they do need special conditions to do so.
The best conditions are freshwater, dark, moist areas, and an adequate supply of food. Poop can be a very ideal medium if it is located in a dark or shaded area.
In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about mushrooms growing in poop. Can you consume them or not? How common is it for a mushroom to grow in poop?
Why Do Mushrooms Grow in Poop?
Long story short, yes, they can, and they do!
Although at times, mushrooms may be thought of as growing in strange stinky places, mushrooms can grow in poop.
However, the ones that we consume are farmed under strict conditions to ensure a quality product free from pests and diseases reach the supermarket.
Fungi reproduce asexually. This process is known as sporulation. When fungi release their spores into the environment and those spores land on grass, crops, and other grazing areas, they are eaten by herbivores like cows, buffalos, and goats.
The spores eaten by herbivores then take a tour through their digestive system and are excreted with herbivores’ poop.
Animal poop provides all the essential nutrients and minerals for the spores to grow well.
Hence, the spores germinate into stronger and more resilient fungi by absorbing all the nutrients and minerals from the poop.
Moreover, when these “poop-loving” fungi grow and get ready for sporulation, they release more poop-loving spores. Thus, they reproduce and expand themselves.
There is a term used for these fungi, which is “Coprophilous fungi.” The Coprophilous fungi are known for growing and gaining nutrition from the poop of herbivores.
Now, what does the poop have that these fungi need? Many essential minerals and nutrients inside the manure or poop help plant growth efficiently.
Nutrients like Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Sulfur, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, and many others. Together, these minerals make the cow dung healthy and appealing to many fungal species.
Many people might not consider cow & horse poop important, but in reality, they provide a safe haven for these fungal species and contain all the needed minerals for their growth.
How Common is Mushrooms Growing in Poop?
It is not common among fungi (mushrooms) to grow in poop as they do not form concrete groups. They are pretty few because not all fungi need what Coprophilous fungi need.
Only around 5% or less than 10% of the fungi (mushrooms) grow in poop.
That is the reason why they are classified separately from other fungi species. Fungi that grow on poop are sometimes exclusive to specific animal poop.
Species like Coprinus radiatus and Panaeolus campanulatus specifically grow in horse poop and may not grow on any other animal poop.
Whereas Panaeolus sphinctrinus can be found growing on any kind of animal poop or the soil.
Many other species, like Conocybe rickenii can maintain their healthy growth in compost (manure).
Also, only a few special species can be seen growing in animal poop, as Coprophilous fungi are not that common.
What Type Of Mushroom Would You Find In Poop?
Most mushrooms you buy from any place are usually grown in cow poop.
Some other fungi that grow in animal poop are:
This fungus grows on the dung of donkeys, sheep and horses during moist weather. It’s small and inky. It looks like it has little bullets on it, kind of like a gun. When it opens up and gets bigger it’s dark grey and looks like it has wrinkles on it and stuff that is coming off of it.
It is commonly known as Petticoat mottlegill. They call it “Petticoat mottlegill” because the inside looks like a skirt. It is a very common mushroom that feeds on animal dung. This little brown mushroom is also known as Panaeolus papilionaceus, Panaeolus sphinctrinus, Agaricus calosus, and Panaeolus retirugis.
The Cheilymenia is yet another genus of fungi that are said to be poop decayers. It’s hard to identify these kinds of little cups without a magnifying glass. You can find these tiny cup fungi on cow patties, but they are also found on other kinds of animal poop.
Most of them (including Cheilymenia stercorea) grow on deer and horse patties, and less likely on cow patties. It’s mostly found in Britain, Ireland, North America, and all over Europe.
Magic mushrooms, also known as psilocybin mushrooms or “psychedelic” mushrooms, are hallucinogenic mushrooms that grow and flourish on animal dung; in the wilds.
There are several varieties of magic mushrooms, but all contain psilocybin, a substance that causes hallucinations when it reaches the brain.
People who take magic mushrooms may also experience hallucinations and “bad trips.” Some people experience nausea or vomiting during these effects.
But they only require cow poop for their healthy growth, and that poop should not contain a lot of stomach acid because stomach acid might not be too good for this fungus.
Why Do Some Mushrooms Grow In Cow Dung?
Cow dung/poop is the most suitable place for a fungus to thrive. Cow dung is rich in minerals and nutrients. To be precise, whatever a fungus needs to grow correctly, cow poop has it.
Living organisms like fungi need nitrogen and potassium to grow properly and reproduce. The cow dung has enough concentration of both these essential nutrients.
There is an abbreviation NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) that contains all the nutrients essential for plant growth. 3% of Nitrogen, 2% of Phosphorus, and 1% of Potassium are found in cow poop.
In simpler words, cow poop is full of rich minerals that help the mushroom’s growth.
These are not only why mushrooms grow in cow dung; there are other reasons too. But it is also essential to know why don’t all mushrooms grow in cow dung?
Your question is valid. The cow dung is good for fungi but to a specific extent. Otherwise, excess of anything is bad.
The cow poop is pretty high in ammonia. Ammonia is not suitable for fungi because it raises the pH, which does not play well in fungi’s favor.
The fungi do not reproduce or cultivate well in high concentrations of ammonia.
That is why even fungi that grow in poop can’t expand there and need to send their spores far away for sporulation. So, fungi can grow in poop, but they can’t reproduce there.
What Edible Mushrooms Grow on Manure?
Many people love cooking store-bought mushrooms. But there is a high chance that they might be eating mushrooms that were grown in poop (manure).
Bolbitius vitellinus (this species is primarily found in the European and American continents), and Conocybe moseri (primarily found growing in Asian and European continents, and It was observed in India that this fungal species could grow in poop).
Both Bolbitius vitellinus and Conocybe moseri grow well in animal poop.
Coprinellus niveus (primarily found in the American and European continents), Coprinopsis narcotica (generally found around the world), Conocybe pubescens (this kind of fungi are known as saint mushrooms), and many others are said to be poop-loving.
There is also a fungus known as white button AKA white mushrooms. They are also pretty famously eaten among people. These fungi also grow in horse poop.
Cremini is yet another species of poop-loving fungi whose botanical name is Agaricus bisporus. Psilocybe cubensis is also a fungal species that can be seen growing in cow and horse poop.
These and several other fungi are edible and often eaten worldwide. But this was just the shortlisted edible poop-loving fungi. So, it is up to you whether you want to eat them.
Are all Mushrooms that Grow in Cow Manure Psychedelic?
Mostly, Yes! Because the psychedelic fungi need the cow dung primarily for healthy growth. So, if I say that all mushrooms that grow in cow manure are psychedelic, it will be valid.
Magic mushrooms, Wavy cap, Liberty cap, Psilocybe azurescens, Panaeolus cyanescens, Psilocybe Mexicana, Panaeolus cinctulus, and many others are psychedelic mushrooms.
All of these species have something in common, which is psilocybin. This psilocybin is what puts them all in one category of psychedelic fungi.
The psychedelic fungi are primarily found in the North American and European continents.
How do psychedelic mushrooms taste? Well, they don’t taste much like other mushrooms and are pretty hard to chew. People who eat these mushrooms prefer to mix them with something else like tea or egg to mix up their taste and make them easy to eat.
Some fungi are classified as poop-loving. The poop provides a safe haven for fungi. These fungi are termed Coprophilous fungi.
Manure is a source of essential nutrients and minerals for these fungi. The excess availability of minerals and nutrients helps coprophilous fungi grow.
However, these mushrooms are not common. There are only some species of fungi that are considered poop-loving.
The psychedelic fungi are mushrooms that need cow manure to grow better. So, all poop-loving fungi are said to be psychedelic fungi as they grow best in manure.