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The Shroomery Mushroom Glossary

This glossary is to serve as a reference for both beginners and the advanced, and covers topics concerning the consumption of mushrooms and basic cultivation.

Original file (previous to content/format edits) available here, and many thanks to Anno for his extensive work on the original glossary.

You are also invited to pay a visit to The Shroomery Mycology Glossary. It contains even more terms that are not on this page.

Mycological and OMC abbreviations is also essential to reading on the forums.



Abort - A mushroom that for some reason ceases to grow and never reaches maturity.       
Acidic - Having a pH lower than 7.        
Adnate - Where the gills or tubes under the cap of a fungus are perpendicular to the stipe or stem at the point of attachment        
Adnexed - Where the gills or tubes under the cap of a fungus sweep upwards before being attached to the stem        
Aerial mycelium - Hyphal elements growing above the agar surface.        
Agar - An extract from a seaweed used to solidify media. The agar used in mushrooms cultivation is usually available in powder form        
Agaric - A term describing mushrooms and toadstools having gills beneath a cap that is connected to a stipe or stem        
Alkaline - Having a pH greater than 7.        
Annulus - A ring of tissue left attached to the stem of a mushroom or toadstool when the veil connecting the cap and stem ruptures as the young fruitbody develops.
Antibiotic - A class of natural and synthetic compounds that inhibit the growth of or kill other microorganisms.        
Ascomycetes - A group of fungi that have in common that they produce their sexual spores inside specialized cells (asci), which usually contain eight spores.
Aseptic - Sterile condition: no unwanted organisms present        
Aseptic technique - Also sterile technique. Manipulating sterile instruments or culture media in such a way as to maintain sterility.        
Autoclave - Basically a big pressure cooker, sometimes operating at higher pressure than 15 PSI, thus achieving sterilization temperatures above 250?F. Axenic - Not contaminated; gnotobiotic: Said esp. of a medium devoid of all living organisms except those of a single Species        


Bacteria - Unicellular microorganisms that may cause contamination in culture work. Grain spawn is very easily contaminated with bacteria. On the other hand there are some bacteria that are needed for the fruiting of agaricus. These are present in the casing soil.        
Basidiomycetes - A group of fungi which produce their spores externally on so called basidia. Often four spores are produced per basidium. Many basidiomycetes show clamp connections on their hyphae, ascomycetes never do. Most mushrooms are classified as basidiomycetes, whereas most molds are ascymycetic.        
Basidium (pl. basidia) - A cell that gives rise to a basidiospore. Basidia are characteristic of the basidiomycetes.        
Biological efficiency - The definition of biological efficiency (BE) in mushroom cultivation is: 1 pound fresh mushrooms from 1 pound dry Substrate indicates 100 iological efficiency. This definition was first used by the agaricus industry to be able to compare different grow setups and Substrate compositions. Note that this is not the same as true thermodynamic efficiency. The BE of Psilocybe cubensis is easily somewhere in the range of 200%uFFFDbr>Birthing - Removing the fully colonized growth medium (like a cake from its jar) from whatever container it was kept in for colonization purposes and placing in an environment conducive to fruiting.        
Bolete - A group of fungi having tubes rather than gills beneath the cap        
BRF - See brown rice flour        
Brown Rice Flour - Ground brown rice. Many cultivators grind their own brown rice in a coffee grinder.        
Buffer - A system capable of resisting changes in pH even when acid or base is added, consisting of a conjugate acid-base pair in which the ratio of proton acceptor to proton donor is near unity. An example is gypsum, which is an additive that increases a material's pH while helping to buffer it, or keep it within a desriable (and higher) pH range.       


CaCl2 - Calcium chloride (Brand names: Damp-Rid, Damp-Gone, Damp B Gone, Damp Away). See dessicant.       
CaCO3 - See calcium carbonate.        
Calcium sulfate - CaSO4. See gypsum.       
Carbon dioxide - CO2. A colorless, odorless, incombustible gas. Formed during respiration, combustion, and organic decomposition.       
Carpophore(s) - Commonly known as "mushrooms", the reproductive organs of the true body of the fungus, formed by the web of mycelium that colonize a substrate.
Casing - Some mushrooms need a covering layer of soil with a specific microflora for Fruiting. Casing materials include peat  and vermiculite; additives include calcium carbonate, calcium hydroxide (hydrated lime) and crushed oystershells.       
CaSO4 - Calcium sulfate. See gypsum.        
Cellulose - Glucose polysaccharide that is the main component of plant cell walls. Most abundant polysaccharide on earth, and common source of nourishment for cultivated fungi.       
Clone - A population of individuals all derived asexually from the same single parent. In mushroom cultivation placing a piece of mushroom tissue on agar medium in order to obtain growing mycelium is called cloning. This is not strictly related to the colloquial notion of cloning, and is simply a manipulation of the natural asexual reproduction system of fungi.       
CO2 - See carbon dioxide        
Cobweb mold - Common name for Dactylium, a mold that is commonly seen on the casing soil or parisitizing the mushroom. It is cobweb-like in appearance and first shows up in small scattered patches and then quickly runs over the entire surface of the its substrate.        
Coir - Coco coir. A short coarse fiber from the outer husk of a coconut. Used as a casing ingredient. Brand names include Bed-A-Beast .        
Colonization - The period of the mushroom cultivation starting at Inoculation during which the mycelium grows through the Substrate until it is totally permeated and overgrown.        
Compost - Selectively-fermented organic material. Compost is one desirable substrate for mushrooms, but may vary in its components.       
Coniferous - Pertaining to conifers, which bear woody cones containing naked seeds. Relevant in mushroom hunting.       
Contamination - Undesired foreign material (contaminants), frequently organisms, in a growing medium. Often the result of insufficient sterilisation or improper sterile technique.        
Cottony - Having a loose and coarse texture. Referred to a growth pattern of some fungi species or strains.        
Culture - A sample of a given (generally desired) organism. In mycology, mushroom mycelium growing on a culture medium.        
Culture medium - The material upon which a culture is developed. Micro-organisms differ in their nutritional needs, and so large number of different growth media have been developed, PD(Y)A (potato dextrose(yeast extract) agar) and MEA (malt extract agar) can be used for most cultivated mushrooms.       


Deciduous - Trees and plants that shed their leaves at the end of the growing season. Relevant in mushroom hunting.       
Desiccant - An anhydrous (moistureless) substance, usually a powder or gel, used to absorb water from other substances. Two commonly used dessicants are calcium hydroxide and silica gel. Dessication permits mushrooms to be preserved for extended periods.       
Dextrose - A simple sugar used in agar formulations. Synonymous with glucose.       
Dikaryotic mycelium - Contains two nuclei and can therefore produce fruiting bodies.       
Diffusion - The movement of suspended or dissolved particles from a more concentrated region to a less concentrated region as a result of random movement on the microscopic scale. Diffusion tends to distribute particles uniformly throughout the available volume, given enough time, and occurs more rapidly at higher temperatures.       
Disinfection - To cleanse so as to destroy or prevent the growth of microorganisms, usually referring to rubbing or spraying the surfaces one wants to disinfect with lysol, diluted bleach solutions or alcohol.       


Endospore - A metabolically dormant state by which some bacteria become more resistant to heat, chemicals, and other adverse conditions. Given the proper conditions, they will reactivate (germinate) and begin to multiply. Many bacterial endospores cannot be destroyed at boiling temperatures. This is important to mycologists because grains contain a high number of dormant endospores, though rice often contains few to none; thus, many grains must be pressure cooked to achieve sterilization, whereas brown rice flour may simply be boiled.       
Enzyme - A protein, synthesized by a cell, that acts as a catalyst for a specific chemical reaction.       


FC - See fruiting chamber.       
Fermentation - Anaerobic (oxygen-less) decomposition. In mushroom cultivation, this often relates to composting. Easily-accessible nutrients may be degraded by micro-organism, making a substrate more selectively beneficial to the desired fungus. Unwanted fermentation may occur if the composted substrate is still very 'active' after inoculation or if thick layers or large bags are used. The latter may lead to low-oxygen conditions in parts of the substrate. Mushrooms are aerobic, meaning they need oxygen, while some undesirable bacteria thrive in anaerobic conditions.       
Field capacity - Content of water, on a mass or volume basis, remaining in a soil after being saturated with water and after free drainage is negligible. Described as the state achieved when one can squeeze a handful of substrate or casing material hard, only to have one or two drops emerge.       
Flow hood - A fan-powered and HEPA-filtered device that produces a laminar flow of contam free air. The air moves across the workspace allowing for open sterile work without the hassle and inconvience of a glove box.       
Flush - The sudden development of many fruiting bodies at the same time. Usually there is a resting period between flushes.       
Fractional sterilization - A sterilization method used to destroy bacteria and spores in preparation of grain spawn (rye, wheat, birdseed) requiring no pressure cooker. In this case, the jars fitted with a filter are boiled or steamed at 212?F (100?C) for 30 min in a covered pot, three days in a row. Between the boiling steps the jars are best kept warm, around 30?C, to allow the remaining endospores to germinate. The basic principle behind this method is that any resistant bacterial spores should germinate after the first heating and therefore be susceptible to killing during the subsequent boilings.        
Fruiting - The process by which the mycelium produces fruiting bodies, or mushrooms, for the purpose of spore propagation (sexual reproduction).        
Fruiting body - A mushroom. The part of the mushroom that grows above ground.        
Fruiting chamber - A enclosed space with high humidity and fresh air exchange where mushrooms may fruit under proper conditions.       
Fungicide - A class of pesticides used to kill fungi.        
Fungus - A group of organisms that includes mushrooms and molds. These organisms decompose organic material, returning nutrients to the soil.        


G2G - See grain-to-grain transfer. Inoculation of grain by already colonized grain.       
Genotype - The set of genes possessed by an individual organism.        
Geolite - One of several brand names/varieties of clay aggregate medium (also known as LECA for light expanded clay aggregate). It is a lightweight, porous substrate with excellent aeration.        
Germination - The spreading of hyphae from a spore        
Gills - The tiny segments on the underside of the cap. This is where the spores come from.        
Glovebox - A glovebox is a device used to Isolate an area for work with potentially hazardous substances or materials which need to be free from direct contact with the outside environment for any reason. Most gloveboxes are small, tightly enclosed boxes having a glass panel for viewing inside and special airtight gloves which a person on the outside can use to manipulate objects inside.        
Glucose - See dextrose.       
Grain-to-grain transfer - The inoculation of grain with already-colonized grain. This procedure involves exposing uncolonized, sterilized grain, and so is prone to contamination. As such it should only be performed with a glove box, laminar flow hood, or similar device.       
Gypsum - Calcium sulfate, CaSO4. A greyish powder often used in spawn preparation. It prevents the clumping of the grain kernels and acts as a basic pH buffer.       


H2O2 - See hydrogen peroxide.       
Hay - Grass that has been cut, left to dry in the field and then baled. It is fed to livestock through the winter when fresh grass is not available. The color of hay is greenish-grey. Not synonymous with straw.       
HEPA - High Efficiency Particulate Air filter. A high-efficiency filter used in flow hoods.        
Hydrogen peroxide - A clear aqueous solution usualy available in concentrations from 3%uFFFDo 30%uFFFDEasily decomposed into water and oxygen by enzymes like catalase, which is found in desirable mushrooms but not in many bacteria. This makes it capable of selectively destroying some competitors, and a tool sometimes used in cultivation. The mycological use of peroxide was the focus of a popular cultivation guide by Rush Wayne.       
Hypha(e) - Filamentous structure which exhibits apical growth and which is the developmental unit of a Mycelium.        


In vitro - From the Latin, in glass, isolated from the living organism and artificially maintained, as in a petri dish or a jar.        
Incubation - The period after inoculation (preferably at a temperature optimal for mycelial growth) during which the Mycelium grows vegetatively        
Inoculation - Introduction of spores or spawn into substrate        
Isolate - A strain of a fungus brought into pure culture (i.e. isolated) from a specific environment        


Lamellae - The gills of a mushroom        
LC - See liquid culture        
Lignin - A complex polymer that occurs in woody material of higher plants. It is highly resistant to chemical and enzymatic degradation. The white rot fungi are known for their lignin degrading capability.        
Limestone - See calcium carbonate.       
Liquid culture - A culture of mycelium suspended in a nutritious liquid, for use as an inoculant.        


Magic mushroom - Any of a number of species of fungi containing the alkaloids psilocybin and/or psilocin. Common species are the 'liberty cap' (Psilocybe semilanceata) and Psilocybe cubensis, though there are dozens of others.       
Maltose - Malt sugar, used in agar formulations.       
Martha - Refers to a fruiting chamber based on a Martha Stewart-brand translucent vinyl closet.        
MEA - Malt extract agar.       
Metabolism - The biochemical processes that sustain a living cell or organism.        
Multispore - Refers to an inoculation where multiple germinations and matings occur due to the use of various spores, as in a spore solution (e.g. spore syringe) and as opposed to an isolate. Liquid cultures may sometimes be called multispore (though they contain no spores) if they were produced from a spore solution, rather than an isolate.        
Mycelium - The portion of the mushroom that grows underground. Plants have roots; mushrooms have mycelium. Mycelium networks can be huge. The largest living thing in the world is a single underground mycelium complex.        
Mycorrhiza - A symbiotic association between a plant root and fungal hyphae.        


Overlay - A dense mycelial growth that covers the casing surface and shows little or no inclination to form pinheads. Overlay directly results from a dry casing, high levels of carbon Dioxide and/or low humidity.        
Oyster shells - See calcium sulfate.      


Parasitic - Fungi that grow by taking nourishment from other living organisms.       
Pasteurization - Heat treatment applied to a Substrate to destroy unwanted organisms but keeping a reduced concentration of favorable ones alive. The temperature range is 60?C to 80?C(140?F-175?F). The treatment is very different from sterilization, which aims at destroying all organisms in the substrate .
PDA - Potato dextrose agar.       
PDYA - Potato dextrose yeast agar.       
Peat - Unconsolidated soil material consisting largely of undecomposed, or only slightly decomposed, organic matter accumulated under conditions of excessive moisture. Used as casing ingredient in mushroom culture.        
Perlite - Perlite is a very light mineral, often found next to the vermiculite in gardening stores. It has millions of microscopic pores, which when it gets damp, allow it to 'breathe' lots of water into the air, aiding in humidification, which is beneficial to fruiting.       
Peroxidated agar - Agar made with H2O2 for the purpose of retarding contamination by bacteria and new mold spores. Not suitable for use with ungerminated mushroom spores, only live mycelium. See also: hydrogen peroxide.        
Petri dish - A round glass or plastic dish with a cover to observe the growth of microscopic organisms. The dishes are partly filled with sterile growth medium such as agar (or sterilized after they have been filled). Petri dishes are used to produce isolates.       
PF - Psylocybe Fanaticus. The original spore provider and originator of the PF-Tek, one of the original home growing techniques on which many others are based.        
pH - A measure to describe the acidity of a medium. pH 7 is neutral; higher means Alkaline, lower Acidic        
Pileus - The cap of a mushroom.       
Pinhead - A term to describe a very young mushroom, so-named for the pin-sized developing cap.       
Polyfill - A polyester fiber that resembles synthetic cotton. Found at fabric stores, Wal-Mart, arts & craft stores. Also used as a filter medium for aquariums (filter floss). Used as a jar lid filter in preparation of grain spawn and for other filtration purposes.       
Pressure cooker - A pot with a tight lid in which things can be cooked quickly with steam under higher pressure. The reason for it is that at 15 PSI (pound per square inch) pressure the water boils at a higher temperature (250?F, 121?C) than at ambient pressure.(212?F, 100?C). In mushroom cultivation used to thoroughly sterilize substrates and agar media.        
Primordium - The initial fruiting body, the stage before pinhead        
Psilocybin, Psilocin - Hallucinogenic organic compounds found in some mushrooms.       
Pure culture - An isolated culture of a micro-organism, uncontaminated with others. Pure cultures are essential to the production of spawn because it is sensitive to contamination.      


Rhizomorph - "Root-like". An adjective used to describe the appearance of the mycelium of some mushroom strains. Rhizomorphic mycelium is taken as a sign of fast colonization and qualities desirable for fruiting..        
Rice cake - Many of the growing methods involve making a 'cake' of brown rice flour( BRF ), vermiculite and water, and injecting it with mushroom spores. Not a rice cake like you'd buy in a supermarket!        
Rye - A hardy annual cereal grass related to wheat. Lat.:Secale cereale. In mushroom cultivation rye grain is used as spawn medium.        
Ryegrass - A perennial grass widely cultivated for pasture and hay and as a lawn grass. Lat.:Lolium perenne. Seeds used as Substrate for P. mexicana and P. tampanensis.       


Saprophyte - A fungus that grows by taking nourishment from dead organisms        
Sclerotium - A hard surfaced resting body of fungal cells resistant to unfavorable conditions,which may remain dormant for long periods of time and resume growth on the return of favorable conditions.        
Secondary metabolite - Product of intermediary metabolism released from a cell, such as an antibiotic.        
Selective medium - Medium that allows the growth of certain types of microorganisms in preference to others. For example, an antibiotic-containing medium allows the growth of only those microorganisms resistant to the antibiotic.        
Simmer - To cook just below or at the boiling point.        
Slant - A test tube with growth medium, which has been sterilized and slanted to increase the surface area        
Spawn - Culture of mycelium on grain, sawdust, etc., used to inoculate the final substrate, or bulk.       
Spawn run - The vegetative growth period of the mycelium after spawning the substrate to bulk.       
Species - Fundamental unit of biological taxonomy. Generally spoken, two individuals belong to the same species if they can produce fertile offspring      
Spore print - A collection of spores taken from a mushroom cap, often collected on sterile card stock, aluminum foil, or some other flat surface.        
Spore syringe - A solution of spores collected in a syringe, usually scraped from a spore print under sterile conditions. Several companies will sell you ready-to-use spore syringes for a few pounds/dollars. This site has links to, or address for, many of the most reputable of these companies.       
Spores - Means of sexual reproduction for mushrooms and many other fungi. Comparable to a plant seed, save that spores combined sexually with one another after germination; there are no "male" and "female" spores as with seeds and pollen or sperm and eggs, but compatability is complicated. Spores are microscopic, and any visible clump of spores is in fact a collection of many thousands or millions of spores.        
Stamets, Paul - The owner of Fungi Perfecti and mushroom guru. The co-author of The Mushroom Cultivator and many other helpful books.        
Stem - The stipe or stalk of a growing mushroom.        
Sterilization - Completely destroying all micro organisms present, by heat (autoclave, pressure cooker) or chemicals. Spawn substrate always has to be sterilized prior to inoculation.        
Stipe - The stem of a mushroom at the top of which the cap or Pileus is attached        
Strain - A genetic line considered to have common traits, usually identified for artificial selection by humans. Many strains have geographical names (e.g. Ecuador, Texan, Aussie), but point of natural origin is not necessarily the source of the name. Remember that strains are a human notion; vendors often differentiate between stocks that are not visibly different to everyone, but which have been perceived to have different characteristics, whether visual (e.g. the Penis Envy strain), chemical (as in strains perceived to have high potency), or behavioral (relating to the mushroom's response to environment, colonization speed, et cetera).       
Straw - The dried remains of fine-stemmed cereals (wheat, Rye, barley...) from which the seed has been removed in threshing. Straw has a golden color.       
Stroma - Dense mycelial growth without fruiting. Stroma occurs if spawn is mishandled or exposed to harmful petroleum-based fumes or chemicals. It also occurs in dry environments.        
Substrate - Whatever you're using to grow the mushrooms on. Different varieties of mushroom like to eat different things (rice, rye grain, straw, compost, woodchips, birdseed). Different techniques involve infecting substrates with anything from spores, to chopped-up Mycelium, to blended mushroom.        


Tek - Short for technique. Often prefaced with something to tell you what type of tek; e.g. PF-Tek, for Psylocybe Fanaticus Technique, one of the original home growing techniques on which many others are based.        
Terrarium - A small enclosure or closed container in which selected living plants, fungi and sometimes small land animals, such as turtles and lizards, are kept and observed.        
Tissue culture - Tissue cultures are the simplest way to obtain a mycelial culture. A tissue culture is essentially a clone of a mushroom, defined as a genetic duplicate of an organism. The basic procedure is to sterilely remove a piece of the mushroom cap or stem, and place it on an agar plate. After a week to ten days, Mycelium grows from the tissue and colonizes the agar. Great care should be taken to select a fruiting body of the highest quality, size, color, shape or any highly desired characteristic.        
TiT - "Tub in Tub", refers to an incubator consisting of 2 plastic tubs and an aquarium heater.        
Trichoderma - A common green mold.       
Trip - What happens when you eat the finished product, if you are cultivating hallucinogenic varieties. With psilocybes, a trip tends to last from three to six hours. May range from mild visual effects and lightly enhanced perceptions, to a totally altered state of consciousness. Generally, this can be controlled to some degree by mindset, setting and dosage. Read some of the trip reports to get an idea of what other people have experienced before experiencing hallucinogens. Please always remember, although many of the effects seem to be experienced by many different people, you're going to have *your* trip, not someone else's.        
Tyndallization - See fractional sterilization        


Umbonate - Used to describe a cap with a raised central area above the point where the stipe meets the pileus        


Veil - When a mushroom is growing, the edges of the cap are joined to the stem. As the mushroom grows larger, the cap spreads and the edges tear away, often leaving a very thin veil of material hanging from the stem.        
Vermiculite - A highly absorbent material made from puffed mica. Used in rice cakes to hold water, and to stop the cake being too sticky. The mycelium likes room to breathe and grow.        


WBS - Wild bird seed. Millet-based birdseed; used as spawn and Substrate in mushroom cultivation.        


Zonate - Marked with concentric bands of colour. Refers to the appearance of mycelium of some mushroom species on agar, for instance P. mexicana.     


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