Unseen and microscopic, this part of the fungi organism spreads as a branching network underground, making up what could be the largest organism in the world, according to mycologist Paul Stamets in his book Mycelium Running.
Mushrooms are incredible organisms; vital for the decomposition of living matter and capable of bioremediation or the cleaning up of toxic contaminants in our environment.
This illustration depicts the life cycle of fungi as a continuum of germination, sprouting and formation of the so-called “fruiting body,” the natural forms of the fungi are incorporated into a few of the notable architectural landmarks of Montréal (Église Saint-Édouard and Basilique-cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde), all inspired by the beautiful, mushroom cap-like cupolas of cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde.
More on mycelium via Wikipedia:
Mycelium (plural mycelia) is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. [..] It is through the mycelium that a fungus absorbs nutrients from its environment. [..] Mycelium is vital in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for its role in the decomposition of plant material. It contributes to the organic fraction of soil, and its growth releases carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. The mycelium of mycorrhizal fungi increases the efficiency of water and nutrient absorption of most plants and confers resistance to some plant pathogens. Mycelium is an important food source for many soil invertebrates.
But beyond the myopia of mere science are these mind-blowing postulations of our greater symbiosis with these organisms by ethnobotanist, thinker and psychonaut Terence McKenna (speaking from the fungi’s point of view in The Mushroom Speaks):
The mycelial body is as fragile as a spider’s web but the collective hypermind and memory is a vast historical archive of the career of evolving intelligence on many worlds in our spiral star swarm.
Space, you see, is a vast ocean to those hardy life forms that have the ability to reproduce from spores, for spores are covered with the hardest organic substance known. Across the aeons of time and space drift many spore-forming life-forms in suspended animation for millions of years until contact is made with a suitable environment. Few such species are minded, only myself and my recently evolved near relatives have achieved the hyper-communication mode and memory capacity that makes us leading members in the community of galactic intelligence.
How the hypercommunication mode operates is a secret which will not be lightly given to man. But the means should be obvious: it is the occurrence of psilocybin and psilocin in the biosynthetic pathways of my living body that opens for me and my symbiots the vision screens to many worlds. You as an individual and man as a species are on the brink of the formation of a symbiotic relationship with my genetic material that will eventually carry humanity and earth into the galactic mainstream of the higher civilizations.
[..] A mycelial network has no organs to move the world, no hands; but higher animals with manipulative abilities can become partners with the star knowledge within me and if they act in good faith, return both themselves and their humble mushroom teacher to the million worlds all citizens of our starswarm are heir to.
Pretty trippy stuff, as they say. But who is to say it’s not possible that we have existed and are still existing in a symbiotic relationship with these mycelial networks? What primeval corner of our psyche holds the deep memory for this “hyperlight communication”? Will fungi save the world? I certainly hope so.