Do you want to get into the word of edible and medicinal mushrooms, but don’t know where to start? Want a good beginner’s spawn that’s fun to grow? Then the blue oyster mushroom is your (fun)guy. Starting out with deep blue caps that mature to gray as the fruiting bodies develop, and with a great resilience to different growing conditions, the blue oyster mushroom is an ideal candidate for a beginner’s fungi garden. The blue oyster mushroom is a member of the Pleurotus ostreatus species, specifically the variant columbinus – this variant of the oyster mushroom is especially resilient in colder weather conditions, and produces a bulkier fruiting body than other oyster mushroom variants. As the oyster mushroom is prized in culinary creations, and even considered a delicacy in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine, blue oyster mushrooms are sure to be an even greater return on your time investment should you choose to foster a fungus such as these. But the usefulness of this species goes deeper than just its uses in cooking…
The blue oyster mushroom is one of many Pleurotus ostreatus variants looked to for its role in mycoremediation, also known as mycorestoration – the process by which fungi are used to clean pollutants from the environment which are otherwise difficult to remove. Given that blue oyster mushrooms are such durable specimens, the relationship between their hardiness and their effect on the environment becomes clear: Pleurotus ostreatus will devour almost anything it comes into contact with, by virtue of the enzymes it releases into the hardwood trees upon which it usually grows. Given that the chemical bonds found in wood are similar to those found in some pollutants, such as petroleum and pesticides, the potential of using oyster mushrooms to clean up an oil-contaminated wetland or a decomposition-resistant garbage dump is undeniable. Research on this topic is ongoing, and provides hope for a brighter future of human management of the Earth’s resources; especially in developing countries, waste management is an area of concern, and effective mycoremediation would provide not only a cost-effective way of reducing waste, but one which also has the potential to provide valuable fungi as a byproduct. The blue oyster mushroom is just one of a number of viable candidates for this emerging biotechnology.
I’m not sure how many people would be willing to eat waste-dump blue oyster mushrooms… But hey, some of these funguys grow on poop, right?