Trick or Treat Fungus Among Us

Inexplicably, there will be few fungus costumes today, just as in Halloweens past. And that’s a shame. Fascinating, ubiquitous, vitally important in the plant’s interconnected systems, fungi are a high-level rank of life, a kingdom, up there with plants, animals, and bacteria. It’s important to remember that fungi are not plants, or even much like them; genetically, in fact, they are more similar to animals than to plants. Vegetarians, take note.

Human history is interwoven with fungi. We eat mushrooms, of course, and people pay big money for truffles; yeasts, a branch of fungi, have long been a part of human consumption, since they ferment wine and beer and raise our bread. Fungi give us poisons, hallucinogens, medicines, and blue cheese. We should be honoring them by dressing our children as Trumpet Chanterelles, Destroying Angels, Puff Balls, Penicillium. (And for you adults, Elegant Stinkhorns and frothy Worts!) Of course, fungi can also be less friendly, less tasty, as the recent fungal meningitis cases in the news attest. But then, Halloween is also a festival of fright…

So be forewarned: you have a year to figure out how to dress as a bacterium.

3 Responses to “Trick or Treat Fungus Among Us”

  1. 1 Elizabeth White October 31, 2012 at 10:36 am

    People are very limited in their imagination when it comes to costumes. Why not dress as something really scary? Henri le Chat Noir suggests dressing as “crippling self doubt.”

  2. 2 mthew October 31, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Ooooo, that is scary!

  1. 1 Old Fungus « Backyard and Beyond Trackback on November 20, 2012 at 7:20 am

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