At Cascadia Mushrooms, we love mushrooms: studying them, growing them, eating them. But we’re not the only ones. Mushrooms are pretty popular in fiction, and they show up to help and hinder heroes in all sorts of stories. Here are five of our favorite mushrooms from pop culture:
Since their first comic was released in 1958, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t recognize blue, “three-apples-high” Smurfs, in their white pants and white caps. Part of their iconic charm is the woodland Smurf Village, where each Smurf lives in a home built into hollowed out mushroom.
4. Clickers from The Last of Us
Naughty Dog’s 2013 video game, The Last of Us, was not just another zombie survival horror. Combining great storytelling, beautiful graphics, and innovative gameplay, it received high acclaim by both critics and gamers. The enemies in the game were the result of a mutant fungus. Because Clickers’ heads were mostly replaced by a mushroom growth, they were blind and only identified the player when they made noise. Fortunately, in real life, the mushrooms they were based on only infect insects like ants.
3. Myconids from Dungeons & Dragons
In D&D, the tabletop roleplaying game, the race of Fungus Men called Myconids live underground and communicate with telepathic spores. While not evil like some other underground creatures in the game, such as Orcs and Dark Elves, the Myconids are highly suspicious of outsiders, and their distrust can cause players problems.
Honorable Mentions: Violet Fungus and Shriekers
D&D has other mushroom-based monsters like the violet fungus which moves slowly around caverns and uses its poison spores to attack, and the shrieker, a human-sized mushroom that screeches when anyone approaches.
2. Mushroom Dancers from Disney’s Fantasia
In Fantasia, the Nutcracker Suite is accompanied by lively animations of dancing flora and fauna. “Tea (Chinese Dance)” includes a fun dance by mushrooms where the caps are stylized to look like dǒulì, the traditional Asian conical hat often worn by rice farmers.
Honorable Mention: Size-Changing Mushroom from Alice in Wonderland
Alice eats weird cookies and drinks strange concoctions inDisney’s Alice in Wonderland which shrink her to the size of an insect. To get back to normal, she is informed that she has to eat bites from a mushroom she is sitting on. The first bite, from her right hand, makes her grow taller than a tree, while the second bite, from her left hand, shrinks her back down to her normal size.
1. Super Mushroom from the Super Mario Franchise
Really, what other mushroom could take the top spot in this list? Since 1985, Nintendo’s Super Mario video games have included all sorts of power-ups to give our hero his repertoire of special abilities. But the most common, by far, has to be the Super Mushroom, which usually turns regular (small) Mario, into his larger Super Mario form (at least until he gets hurt by an enemy). In some games, they simply restore his health or even give his go-kart a boost. Is there anything a Super Mushroom can’t do? Closely related is the 1-Up Mushroom, which is green, rather than red, and gives Mario an extra life.
Honorable Mention: Goombas
Not all mushrooms in the Mario world are as helpful as the Super Mushroom and the 1-Up Mushroom. Goombas are mushroom baddies in King Bowser’s army, which march dutifully against Mario and Luigi. Armed only with a scowl and a bad attitude, players rarely have problems stomping them out.
There you have it, our 5 greatest mushrooms from popular culture. Did we leave any out? What do you think?