Source: Magness et al. 1971
The term mushroom applies to edible, fleshy fungi, either gathered from the wild or grown in cultivation. Under cultivation, mushrooms are grown mainly in the dark, in caves or light-tight buildings, with temperature, moisture and ventilation control. The "spawn" or mycelium is seeded in specially prepared compost in beds or suitable containers. After the mycelia have spread through the compost, a layer of soil or "casing" is applied. The mushrooms, the fruiting bodies of the fungi, first appear at the soil surface 6 or more weeks after seeding with spawn, and continue to appear. They are usually harvested by cutting off the cap with a small portion of the stem before the caps have become fully expanded. Beds produce the main crops in the first 50 days after fruiting starts, but may be retained with light production for several months.
Production in U.S.: 100,000 tons.
Use: Food flavoring, soups, sometimes as pot vegetable, or raw in salads.
Part of plant consumed: Fruiting "cap" and stem.