I saw the cover for this and I was sold on it immediately. I have a burning passion for Ecology, Biology, Botany, and nature stuff in general. Yet, I’ve never delved into the realm of Fungus before, something I’m kicking myself about now.
There’s a certain feeling of awe I get when I hit a topic that I know virtually nothing about and I feel like my brain just absorbed so much brand new information that it changes the way I think about things. When I hit a book that reminds me that there’s still an endless infinite number of things to learn it’s both humbling and exciting. I can’t say enough positive things about this one. And who knows, maybe this is a boring topic to many and I’ll be alone in my revelry, but I hope not.
Did you know that slime molds have been used to model traffic patterns in major cities? It’s true. Scientists have built mini-cities to scale for slime mold, and they will inevitably take the fastest way out. Does decision making on which paths to take count as intelligence? What if fungus can communicate with its many branches, with other life forms…. does that count as intelligence? There are more questions asked than answered in this book, but that’s part of the fun. Slime molds have been used multiple times to map escape routes from buildings, emergency snow routes, etc. They are capable of analyzing and using vast amounts of data from the world around them to make survival decisions. There’s been talk that if we could tap in and decode the signals they send to each other, that we could use them as environmental monitors – sending real-time data about pollution, temperature, water flow, acidity, and other values.
They are the largest living organisms on the planet. Some of the most ancient and long-living as well with many specimens lifespans measured in thousands of years. Lichen can survive the vacuum of space, radiation 1000X stronger than a lethal dose for humans, and keep on ticking.
They are able to exchange genes horizontally. That’s like if you bumped into a red-head on the street, and now you’re a red-head too. This shit is absolutely wild.
There are entire lifestyles and cultures that revolve around truffles and their dogs/pigs that track them down. It gets serious sometimes too, as some truffles are worth their weight in gold.
Every aspect of this book was mind-bending to me, and it’s going to stick with me every time I see or eat a mushroom.
For me, the icing on the cake was that this book was told from the perspective of someone who loves the topic. There are an addictiveness and contagiousness to someone who has a passion for the topic they’re speaking about, and I caught the bug. The audiobook was fantastic and I recommend this to basically anyone who has a remote interest in nature, plants or want something to occupy yourself with something you’ve probably never given much thought.
5/5 stars on Goodreads (I don’t have an in-depth grading system for non fiction)