UK Experts Warn of Biodiversity Crisis from Mushroom-Growing Trend

UK Experts Warn of Biodiversity Crisis from Mushroom-Growing Trend
credit; bbc

London (Parliament News) – UK garden experts warn of potential biodiversity catastrophe due to the rising popularity of home mushroom growing. Concerns arise over non-native species’ impact on soil microbiology and ecosystem balance.

A rise in the popularity of mushrooms growing at house could lead to a biodiversity catastrophe, UK garden experts have cautioned. 

There has been a climb in the number of people growing mushrooms in their parks, and this year, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s Plant of the Year award contained a mushroom – the tarragon oyster mushroom, thought to be discovered only in the British Isles – in its shortlist for the foremost time, despite it being a fungus, not a plant.

Why Are UK Garden Experts Raising Concerns about Mushrooms?

Scientists at Kew Gardens in south-west London state they have had an upsurge in inquiries about cultivating mushrooms in the garden after establishing their new mushroom beds in the Kew kitchen garden.

Researchers are investigating the beneficial interactions between plants and mycorrhizal fungi; native mushrooms can have usefulness to the soil and symbiotic associations with plants.

But there are worries that non-native mushrooms grown in parks or disposed of in compost heaps could cause a biodiversity tragedy similar to other formerly popular garden plants.

Once fungi are in the ground, they are very hard to extract because they spread with tiny mycelium and spores, which cannot be sacked. 

Japanese knotweed, rhododendron and bamboo are among earlier popular garden plants that have ended up becoming interfering species, spreading across the country and damaging homes and the environment.

Native fungi, however, should be accommodated in the garden as they feed on dead plant and animal remains and are important in breaking down organic material into humus, minerals and nutrients that can then be used by plants.

What Risks Do Non-Native Mushrooms Pose?

Sheila Das, a garden manager at RHS Wisley, stated she had concerns that exotic fungi being raised in gardens could end up circulating through the soil, altering the microbiology, and be almost unattainable to get rid of.

She stated: “The opportunities we have to grow edible fungi at home are particularly exciting. We should make sure when buying kits for growing that we are purchasing from trusted suppliers. “We are still discovering much about the world of fungi, so familiarising alien spawn into your garden by accident (ie species not native to this country) could potentially unclose many issues just as we have learned from the past with invasive plants and imported plant diseases.

“Alien fungi could potentially be even more difficult to control than alien plant species as their method of growth is so complex and they can extend throughout soil and other organisms very quickly. “Many home kits are developed for growing indoors, but people are often motivated to dispose of them on their compost heap or in the green, so having fungi that belong in the UK is essential when we think of its full life cycle.”

What Are the Knowledge Gaps in Introducing Mushroom Spawn?

Experts have stated that when people are selecting mushroom cultivation kits, they should be species native to the UK so they do not extend and cause any problems. Dr Ruth Chitty, an RHS plant pathologist, stated: “There are a lot of holes in our knowledge about introducing mushroom spawn from different nations. Research has found additional populations across the world have some genetic variation, and we are not certain what impact introducing different residents will have on the UK populations.

Daniele Naddei

Daniele Naddei is a journalist at Parliament News covering European affairs, was born in Naples on April 8, 1991. He also serves as the Director of the CentroSud24 newspaper. During the period from 2010 to 2013, Naddei completed an internship at the esteemed local radio station Radio Club 91. Subsequently, he became the author of a weekly magazine published by the Italian Volleyball Federation of Campania (FIPAV Campania), which led to his registration in the professional order of Journalists of Campania in early 2014, listed under publicists. From 2013 to 2018, he worked as a freelance photojournalist and cameraman for external services for Rai and various local entities, including TeleCapri, CapriEvent, and TLA. Additionally, between 2014 and 2017, Naddei collaborated full-time with various newspapers in Campania, both in print and online. During this period, he also resumed his role as Editor-in-Chief at Radio Club 91.
Naddei is actively involved as a press officer for several companies and is responsible for editing cultural and social events in the city through his association with the Medea Fattoria Sociale. This experience continued until 2021. Throughout these years, he hosted or collaborated on football sports programs for various local broadcasters, including TLA, TvLuna, TeleCapri, Radio Stonata, Radio Amore, and Radio Antenna Uno.
From 2016 to 2018, Naddei was employed as an editor at newspapers of national interest within the circuit, including Internazionale24, Salute24, and OggiScuola. Since 2019, Naddei has been one of the creators of the Rabona television program "Calcio è Passione," which has been broadcast on TeleCapri Sport since 2023.