Sunday, Jun 16, 2024 10:45 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Jun 16, 2024 05:11 [IST]

Flora, Fauna and Funga

An introduction to the world of fungi

What are fungi? Have you ever seen the green mold growing on oranges or the blackish mold that shows up on your pieces of bread overnight? Yes, they are what we call fungi but still, what are they really? Are they a plant? Are they an animal? The answer is that they are neither plant nor animal and are placed in their own kingdom. It’s only recently that the United Nations Biodiversity Congress has officially recommended the study and classification of fungi as an important component to life on earth. Earlier fungi were thought to be part of the plant kingdom however we know that fungi are closer to animals than they are to plants but having said that, fungi are not animals either. So then what are fungi and why do we need to know about them before we start to know about mushrooms?

Fungi are a very large and diverse group of organisms that are known to have a variety of shapes and sizes; from threadlike molds barely visible to the naked eye to large bracket like growths on tree trunks to the delicious edible mushrooms that we consume. Fungi are broadly divided into two main groups, microfungi, which are microscopic in nature and can’t really be seen with the naked eye and macrofungi which are visible to the naked eye. In fact the fruiting bodies or the reproductive organs of macrofungi are what we call mushrooms. We will mostly only look at the macrofungi or rather the fruiting bodies of these fungi in our foray into the myco-kingdom.

Each year the scientific community is making rapid strides into understanding more about these mysterious organisms which seem to be as old as plants or possibly even older inhabitants of our earth. All of this makes the study and observation of fungi one of the most interesting and challenging fields of our time, just to give you an idea about the incredible diversity of fungi on earth it is estimated that there could be up to 10 million fungal species on earth but we have only described and categorized around 1,50,000. This means that fungi and mushrooms are among the most neglected kingdoms of life on earth.

The state of Sikkim is a recognized hotspot for biodiversity of all forms and fungi are no exception to that. The amazing diversity of fungi and mushrooms found in the state is what prompted us to start documenting them as Mushrooms of Sikkim. We are not experts nor are we involved in any form of research about mushrooms or fungi but it’s simply out of love and respect towards nature that we got into exploring them. It has been an amazing journey for us so far, a lot to learn still and we are happy to be able to raise awareness about mushrooms and perhaps drive research into this very exciting field of mycology (the study of fungi).

Mushrooms of Sikkim was started by two nature enthusiasts, Bharati Gurung and Pramod Hingmang. We want to make people of Sikkim aware of the immense diversity and beauty of mushrooms in the state. We would also like to encourage more people to study and grow mushrooms. We are foragers who simply want to shed light upon these magical organisms and possibly drive some fruitful research into this exciting field known as mycology.

We do not encourage anyone to pick and eat wild mushrooms without proper verification as eating the wrong mushrooms can lead to death. Since very little is known in the state about them and local means of identification are outdated and ambiguous, we would like to advocate extreme caution when looking to pick and eat unknown mushrooms. You can find us on Instagram:


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi