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Mushrooms and truffles


  • Fungiculture is the process of producing food, medicine and other products by the cultivation of mushrooms and other fungi (like truffles). Unlike plants which depend on the sun, mushrooms rely on their growing medium for food and energy. Examples of this food-and-energy source are compost, mulched hay, sawdust and wood chips.
  • Four important mushroom species are grown commercially. These are the common cultivated mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, the Shiitake mushroom, Lentinula edodes, the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus and the paddy-straw mushroom, Volvariella volvaceae. The common cultivated mushroom is the most important species with the greatest estimated global production.
  • Most mushrooms found in supermarkets have been commercially grown on mushroom farms i.e. in controlled, sterilised environments. Separating edible from poisonous species requires meticulous attention to detail, since there is no single trait by which all toxic mushrooms can be identified, nor one by which all edible mushrooms can be identified. The term ‘gourmet mushroom’ generally refers to any mushroom except the white and brown button mushroom commonly found in supermarkets.
  • Approximately 300 mushroom species have known medicinal properties, and another 1800 with potential medicinal properties have been identified. Extracts of medicinal mushrooms are used to increase disease resistance and to normalise body functions.
  • Mushrooms can also be used for dyeing wool and other natural fibres.

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International business environment

Visit, website of the International Society for Mushroom Science

  • The global mushroom market size was expected to grow from $61.33 billion in 2023 to $66.53 billion in 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5%.
  • The increasing vegan population demanding a protein-rich diet around the globe is expected to be a key driver for the market over the forecast period.
  • Mushrooms are considered a superfood owing to their nutritional contents.
  • An increasing number of consumers focus on organic and unprocessed food consumption to gain maximum health benefits of the product. Processed types include dried, frozen, canned, pickled, and powdered forms. Additional processing such as canning, freezing, or drying is essential to extend the shelf life of mushrooms.
Source: (1) The Business Research Company. 2024. Mushroom Global Report. Available at (2) Grand View Research. 2022. Mushroom Market Size, 2022 - 2030. Available at

For the newcomer

  • Find the grower guides and other material under the “Websites & publications” heading later on this page.

Role players

Further reference:

  • The South African National Collection of Fungi, which houses approximately 60 000 specimens, is known nationally and internationally under the acronym PREM. The name PREM is derived from the city in which the collection is situated, Pretoria (PRE), and the M defines the collection as being mycological. The ARC-PHP is currently the custodian of the collection. For further information contact Dr A Jacobs-Venter jacobsr [at]

Websites and publications

  • Available from the ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) is the publication “Agro-processing of Olives and Legumes (green peas, green beans, cowpeas, lentils, olives, peanuts, mushrooms)”. Call 012 842 4017 or visit
  • Publications from the ARC-PHP (Plant Health and Protection) include: (i) Mushrooms and Toadstools / Sampioene en Paddastoele (ii) Medically Important Spiders and Scorpions of Southern Africa. Write to booksales [at] or infopri [at]
  • Gryzenhout M. 2021. Pocket Guide Mushrooms of South Africa. Cape Town: Penguin Random House.
  • Gryzenhout M. & Goldman G. 2019. Mushrooms and Other Fungi of South Africa. Cape Town: Random House Struik.
  • Step by Step Guide on growing mushrooms ISBN 978-0-620-42224-6. There is also a three part DVD set. Order at
  • Find the eBook Mushroom Cultivation Business and Marketing Secrecies by Adriaan Smit and Markus Peter-Erik Janssens at 
  • Find the notes at Precision Irrigation Academy website,
  • Commercial mushroom production in South Africa. Bulletin 418. A Eicker. Department of Botany. University of Pretoria.
  • Find the following publications at (i) Gryzenhout, M. 2012. Pocket Guide: Mushrooms of South Africa. (ii) Stamets, P. 2000. Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. Third edition. Also at Amazon are several titles on truffles, including Brown, G., Hall, I.R., Zambonelli, A. 2008. Taming the Truffle.
  • Find the videos on YouTube like “How to Grow Mushrooms” and “How to Grow Truffle Trees”.

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