The weather is warm and wet in Nowhere Wood.
These are perfect conditions for growing the fungi that spread everywhere throughout the soil of Nowhere Wood. Fungi are Nature’s recyclers, feeding on the fallen leaves, fruits and wood.
Fungi feed on the wood of the dead oak trees, turning it into nutrients that provide energy and chemicals needed to grow new fungal cells. (These cells form long threads called hyphae). Some fungi can spread out over really large areas, several kilometres wide.
At this time of the year, the fungi are busy ‘ being’.
Then one night, silently and without warning, the fungi do something else.
They produce structures that we call “mushrooms” **.
Spores are small and light. They are carried on air currents to new places in Nowhere Wood, where they will germinate and grow into new hyphae.
Spores have often been found in the filters of jet aircraft flying at the edge of the atmosphere, so some spores can travel right round the world. When fungi produce spores they are ‘becoming’ something new: small, light and mobile versions of themselves.
Then, almost as soon as they arrive, it is all over. The fruiting bodies die and become food for other fungi and bacteria in Nowhere Wood.
This is how it is. The precious molecules are used, recycled and become part of the growth of new organisms. Nothing is ever wasted.
- All of the atoms in the world were made when the universe began. No atoms have been made or destroyed since then. Imagine what life would be like without Nature’s recyclers.
- You are a collection of recycled atoms. Think about how carbon atoms enter and leave your body. [Hint, carbon atoms are found in carbohydrates and in carbon dioxide.]
You can read more about ‘being and becoming’ here.
**Some mushrooms are good to eat, others are really poisonous and can kill us. It is hard to tell them apart unless you are an expert, so it is sensible not to touch or eat any mushrooms you find in a wood.