Updated: Mar 10
Welcome to another segment of Fun-Time Fun-Gi led by your host Julian Da-Fun-Gi Jensen. Today we will be exploring the elusive white ferula.
The White Ferula is a fungi that is extremely rare and only grows in a 100 square kilometer area of Northern Sicily, or 38.6 square miles for you Americans. This Fungi only grows on limestone. This is a rather rare feature of micological organisms because most fungi need nutrients from the soil. The white ferula has adapted to leave the soil behind and grow in a less competitive environment, even though its not working out so well for their species. This fungi is 2-8 centimeters in diameter and is very weird looking. It has a bulbous bottom stemming into gills that cap off at the top in a small crown, that cracks at maturity.
Conservation and Threats
The White Ferula is Critically Endangered. It is estimated that only 250 white Ferulas make it to maturity each year. The main reason that this fungi is disappearing is due to overharvesting. When the existence of the white ferula was first officially documented in 1866, its discoverer Giuseppe Inzenga described it as, “the most delicious mushroom in the world.” This fungi is very expensive and sought after in Italy. As it gets more endangered, the price continues to grow prompting mushroom hunters to keep finding and picking this endangered mushroom. You wouldn’t eat an endangered sea turtle, so what makes you think its OK to eat an endangered mushroom? Believe it or not, plants and fungi are alive too, and humans would be pretty screwed without them. Another main reason why this mushroom is getting more endangered is because there are no laws regulating the harvesting of it. Apparently, there is “a plan being made” to make a law restricting harvesting the white ferula. This plan has not been put to action. Sounds to me like these lawmakers like their gourmet meals of endangered species more than they want to protect the environment. Some efforts have been made by conservationists to restore the species through a practice called ex situ in Italy, translating to micological cultivation, where they essentially try to grow the mushrooms on their own and reintroduce them into the wild.
If we want this mushroom to survive, we have to spread awareness about its endangerment, and stop people from harvesting and eating them. We can also employ tactics of environmental justice, and convince lawmakers to create laws protecting them.
This has been the 3rd segment of Endangered Mushrooms. See you next month my fungal friends. Da Fun Gi signing off.
Written by — Julian Jensen