Do Mushrooms Have Roots? How Do They Grow?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 03/26/22 •  6 min read

Do Mushrooms Have Roots? How Do They Grow? Mushrooms are a fantastic crop to grow in your garden at home as you can produce masses of them with little effort. However, are mushrooms like other plants? And do they have roots? If not, how do they grow?

Mushrooms do not have roots like plants and they are actually not actually even considered a plant because they do not manufacture their own food as plants do. Mushrooms instead have an underground structure known as a mycelium which differs from plant roots because it contains enzymes that break down nutrients from other living things nearby and absorb them.

They play an important role in most ecosystems because they help to break down materials that have died such as trees that have fallen to the ground. The mushrooms that are produced from this process can essentially be considered to be the fruit that is produced from this process. 

Mushrooms generally appear most commonly at the base of the forest floor. They generally prefer damp conditions that are often relatively dark and have the potential to produce large numbers of fruit.

Are Mushrooms Safe To Eat?

Some people choose to forage for mushrooms in natural environments, however, this is generally not considered to be a good thing to do unless you really know what you’re doing in terms of the identification of the species. While there are some edible varieties there are also some varieties that are extremely toxic and others that produce hallucinations.

Every year there are at least a few deaths that occur as a result of people consuming toxic mushrooms so as a general rule it is not something I would recommend that you do.

While there are not many deadly varieties there are a number of mushroom plants that do induce vomiting if consumed. 

Additionally, there have been recent studies that have shown that mushrooms also can absorb large amounts of heavy metals and radioactive substances which is particularly problematic if you lived in the eastern part of Europe.

Can You Grow Mushrooms At Home Safely?

Mushrooms can be grown at home quite safely either using a mushroom growing kit, which is extremely easy to use, or alternatively making your own mushroom kits at home by buying the mushroom spores.

The mushroom growing kits are designed to be simple and easy to use many of them just require you to cut a hole in the bag, soak the contents of the bag, and simply leave them to start growing. An example of this may be seen in the Happy Cap Mushroom Growing Kit. To see the latest price on Amazon click here.

These kits can produce mushrooms after approximately 10 to 14 days depending on the conditions in which your mushrooms are grown.

The alternative method is to use mushroom grow bags and gather materials separately to grow the plants. However, when doing this you need to be really careful about ensuring that you sterilize your growing medium to avoid other organisms such as bacteria or other types of mushrooms from colonizing the growing medium.

The growing medium that is most commonly used is wood shavings because it is easy to manage and sterilize. The easiest way to do this is to simply take your wood shavings in a pot and boil the water which will kill any additional bacteria present. 

To start your mushrooms going put down a layer of sterilized commercial compost followed by the sterilized layer of wood shavings sprinkle the mushroom spores onto the layer of wood shavings and cover them over ensuring that they remain moist.

If you live in a relatively warm climate is a good idea to regularly check your mushrooms’ progress and ensure that the wood shavings remain moist. Using this method you can typically expect that you will begin to see the development of spores over the next 10 days or so before the first mushroom starts to appear which typically takes a week or two longer.

When mushrooms start to appear you need to regularly harvest them by gently removing the mushrooms with a knife as they appear. 

Another method that is commonly used for shiitake mushrooms is inoculating a log with the spores of the mushrooms. This process does take a lot longer to generate a harvest as it needs to be done on a freshly cut piece of timber.

To inoculate a log of timber the easiest way is to purchase mushroom dowels that have been inoculated with the spores of a particular mushroom, shiitake mushrooms are extremely common for this type of process. 

To inoculate the log drill holes that are approximately the same width as the dows you purchased with the mushroom spores in them. Once the holes have been drilled hammer in the dows into the holes and place a little bit of Wax over the surface of the holes to prevent other mushroom spores and bacteria from getting into the log.

The log then needs to be put aside in a cool dark location for the mushrooms to begin to produce fruit.  As the log is still structurally quite strong it will take an extended period of time for the mushrooms to fully colonized the log and start to break down the timbers to produce the fruits. It is not uncommon to see the first mushrooms only appearing after 1 to 2 years. However, this is generally highly dependent upon the particular mushroom variety, the conditions in which they are grown, and the type of wood that is used.

I hope you found this article useful and have great success growing your mushrooms at home if you have any additional questions or comments please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart