Real Life Fungi Straight Out of a Spielberg Film
Spielberg is known for some pretty out-there movies and today we’re paying tribute to him by suggesting some unreal fungi he could use (or possibly has already used) in his films. These fungi are so strange that they could easily find a home in Jurassic Park or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They’re weird, scary and probably should not be on this planet. And if the title of this article wasn’t enough to prepare you, here’s a disclaimer: turn back if you’re squeamish!
1. Bleeding Tooth Fungus
Not only is the name of this fungus enough to make us cringe, but so is its appearance. When the fungus is young, it has an off-white or beige color with many dotted pores (trypophobes beware!) which ooze out a dark red liquid that looks a lot like blood. In actuality, this vampire’s lollipop is just sap – a potentially helpful one at that. You see, it contains an acid (thelephoric acid) that’s currently being studied as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s. And despite us calling this a “lollipop,” it’s far from sweet; it’s non-toxic but extremely bitter and thus, inedible.
2. Black Brain Fungus
Also known as black witches’ butter fungus, this particular microorganism matches its name exactly – it looks like a black version of the gyri and sulci (folds and grooves) of the brain. It can be found in North America and Europe, typically growing on fallen branches and other dead wood. As expected, it has a soft, squishy texture, like one might expect a brain to have. It’s neither classified as edible or inedible so the safe bet would be to just steer clear.
3. Shaggy Ink Cap
Now this is the type of mushroom you’d expect to find outside the Gingerbread Hag’s (the witch who tried to eat Hansel and Gretel) house and possibly in her cauldron too. Also called the lawyer’s wig, it looks like a normal mushroom except for the black top, that looks like its dripping some equally dark goo that’s very reminiscent of the Mind Flayer’s goo from Stanger Things. Despite the scary factor, the mushroom is edible but must be eaten quickly after being collected as its gills and caps are known to autodigest.
4. Chicken of the Woods
Chicken of the Woods doesn’t look special in the grand scheme of things, but it does have a particularly wonderful quality – one that baby vegans will love. It tastes like chicken! Now we know that people have the tendency to say every wild and exotic thing tastes like chicken, we’re not kidding or exaggerating in this case; one of its nicknames is “the fried chicken mushroom.” It’s often used a substitute for the meat in vegan and vegetarian diets but in some cases can cause mild reactions like swollen lips, nausea and disorientation.
5. Bearded Tooth Mushroom
If we took the Whomping Willow, shrunk it, added more volume and made it an all-white mushroom, this is what we would get – minus the desire to destroy everything in its vicinity. The bearded mushroom looks cool yet dangerous, with its mysterious cascade of spines. But despite its appearance, this fungus is a good one since its used in food as well as medicine; it’s actually used in traditional Chinese medicine. Today, we know that it can help with memory loss, depression and other neurological disorders.
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