Previously Unidentified Mushroom Varieties Sold in London Supermarket (They're Safe!)

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Two new mushroom varieties have been identified, which as interesting as that sounds on its own, is actually a rather common occurrence. About 1,200 new species are identified annually. How they were found though, will kind of blow your mind.

According to the mycologists who made the discovery, the mushroom varieties weren’t spotted in a woodsy area of old growth forest. There were no Smurfs or psychedelic journeys involved. No, these new mushroom varieties were found in a supermarket in London sold inside a bag of dried porcini mushrooms that had been imported from China.

Apparently all porcini mushrooms aren’t the same. “The Italian favorite may be treated as one ingredient in the kitchen, but there’s a lot of diversity within the Boletus genus of mushrooms,” reports TakePart. “There’s Boletus edulis, the original porcini that’s found in Italy and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. Then there are the many other mushrooms that largely look and taste the same but are different species altogether.”

Porcinis are all wild-harvested—about 100,000 tons every year—as domestic growing attempts repeatedly fail. “While it’s nice to think of an old Italian man thoughtfully picking each and every one, it simply isn’t the case,” reports Take Part, “and demand has extended the range of where people are hunting for them.” China has emerged as one of the leading exporters of Boletus.

The researchers, Bryn Dentinger and Laura Suz, followed through on a hunch about new species being sold commercially and they picked up the bag at a London market, where they identified the two species of Boletus. But here’s what’s even more amazing: there could be as many as 10 million species worldwide!

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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