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Article  DIY mushroom growing in the UK: Threat to biodiversity?

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Mushroom-growing boom could cause biodiversity crisis, warn UK experts

INTRO: A boom in the popularity of mushroom-growing at home could lead to a biodiversity disaster, UK garden experts have warned.

There has been a rise in the number of people growing mushrooms in their gardens, and this year, the RHS Chelsea flower show’s plant of the year award included a mushroom – the tarragon oyster mushroom, thought to be found only in the British Isles – in its shortlist for the first time, despite it being a fungus, not a plant.

Scientists at Kew Gardens in south-west London say they have had an increase in inquiries about growing mushrooms in the garden after installing their new mushroom beds in the Kew kitchen garden.

Researchers are exploring the beneficial interactions between plants and mycorrhizal fungi; native mushrooms can have benefits to the soil, and symbiotic relationships with plants.

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

Once fungi are in the soil, they are very hard to remove because they spread with tiny mycelia and spores, which cannot be removed. Japanese knotweed, rhododendron and bamboo are among previously popular garden plants that have ended up becoming invasive species, spreading across the country and harming homes and the environment.

Native fungi, however, should be welcomed in the garden as they feed on dead plant and animal remains and are crucial in breaking down organic material into humus, minerals and nutrients that can then be used by plants... (MORE - details)

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