The Weird, Wild World of Mushrooms

Mushroom wonder

Photo illustration by Mark Riechers.

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Original Air Date: 
June 08, 2019

We owe our past and future existence on Earth to fungi. Some can heal you, some can kill you, and some can change you forever. And the people who love them are convinced that mushrooms explain the world.

A drawing of a carving by Charles Edenshaw in the late 1800s depicting the Haida myth of the origin of women. Fungus Man is paddling the canoe with Raven in the bow in search of female genitalia. (Courtesy of the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago)
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The Haida First Nation people in British Columbia have a myth about the origin of humanity coming from "Fungus Man." And that myth contains plenty of truth.

Length: 
2:57
Mushrooms on a tree
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Paul Stamets may be the most passionate mycologist on the planet. He tells Steve why new medicines and technologies derived from mushrooms might save life as we know it.

Length: 
10:17
Ricotta and Marinated Mushroom Pie (Eugenia Bone)
Articles

Writer Eugenia Bone’s obsession with mushrooms began with her love of eating them. She shares notes from her hunts for morels as well as three recipes for how to best enjoy fungal delicacies. 

Length: 
11:50
Mushroom music
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Mushrooms have inspired scientists, chefs and even musicians. Mycologist Lawrence Millman says they’ve also inspired a few composers, including Vaclav Halek and John Cage.

Length: 
4:08
Magic mushrooms and our primate ancestors
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Magic mushrooms go way back in human history. Some people even believe psychedelic mushrooms helped create human consciousness. We examine the "Stoned Ape Theory."

Length: 
18:16
A still of the mycelium network from "Fantastic Fungi." Photo courtesy of Moving Art.
Articles

Fungi contain vast, untapped potential, says Louie Schwartzberg — to remediate pollution, reverse climate change, even address chronic disease and mental disorder — something he argues in his film "Fantastic Fungi."

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Last modified: 
June 13, 2019