Paddy straw Mushrooms

Brief write up on Paddy Straw Mushrooms of Karnataka

Paddy Straw mushrooms scientifically known as Volvariella volvacea is a tropical fast growing mushroom. This mushroom is also locally known as Satthae Alambe (Umbrella mushrooms), Baihulla Muttina Anabe in certain regions of Karnataka, India.

The history of Paddy Straw mushrooms in India began in 1925, during the times when Bullock carts were still one the main modes of transport in rural areas. You could consider them the Tesla of the times – non polluting, Eco-friendly, auto driven vehicle – if the driven fell asleep, the bullocks knew the way home.

In those days Paddy Straw Mushrooms appeared mainly in the Monsoon season on Paddy Straw Heaps. When the rain water seeped through these straw heaps it caused Thermophilic bacteria to raise the temperature in the center of these bundles. This optimal temperature caused Volvariella volvacea spores to germinate and popup into a bountiful Paddy Straw mushroom crop. Once they start fruiting, they were immediately picked and distributed among the villagers. The mushroom curry was prepared the same day before sunset – considering the short life span of these delicacies. Lucky were the people who were able to eat them in those days.

Being one of the tastiest mushroom – with a pleasing aroma. If you dry and powder it – it smells like Coco powder. Hence it is sometimes used as a flavor enhancer – by adding it in soups, stews, curries etc.

Cultivation of mushrooms was still relatively unknown at the time.

Some rural areas in Coastal Karnataka  – are still familiar with local strains of Volvariella volvacea. We received local sample of the species growing wild in Guruvayanakere, Karnataka in 2006. This variety was much better suited for the local climatic conditions – unlike the species from Orissa. The main reason being during Monsoon season, the coastal region temperature drops below 30C and some time as low as 22C. Today, Mangalore’s temperature varies from 22ºC to 27º C, where as Orissa’s ranges from 26 to 29ºC. If you have an intention to grow Paddy Straw Mushrooms – there are many important factors that need to be considered.

Further posts will be on

  1. Science
  2. Cultivation
  3. Nutrition
  4. Marketing
  5. Economics – comparison with other tropical edible mushrooms.

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