Block of the Week: Mushroom

Not mushroom for a pun in this subheader

While wandering the world, or sailing the seas, you'll occasionally come across a very rare and special biome. The ground is mycelium, rather than grass. Craggy cliffs jut out into the ocean. No mobs spawn, except for weird red cows. And the whole area is covered with enormous mushrooms.

I'm talking about mushroom islands, the best place to find our Block of the Week, obviously. Mushroom blocks are what huge mushrooms are made out of, which spawn all over mushroom islands as well as in swamp and roofed forest biomes. They're handy as a fuel source, building material and even as food! You'll probably recognise them as the lamest possible pizza topping there is. Seriously, how is pizza with just mushrooms on it even legal?

While most real-world mushrooms are pretty small in comparison to Minecraft's huge mushrooms, there are actually a few that are way larger! As we noted when we looked at mycelium a few months ago, the slopes of Oregon's Blue Mountains are home to a single fungus that covers an area about three times the size of New York's Central Park. Wow! If you're not familiar with the size of Central Park, and would like me to tell you how large it is, TOUGH. It's not called 'Park of the Week' is it? I just get paid for the block facts, pal.

Mushrooms are a bit weird because they're neither an animal nor a plant. Instead, they're a fungus - a type of organism that also includes yeasts and moulds. Some are edible (but be very careful because some are poisonous!) and most of the types that you'll find in the supermarket are grown in specially-built mushroom farms. Mushroom farmers are called "fungiculturalists", while people who hunt for mushrooms in the forests are known as "mycophagists". Which would you rather be? We'd personally opt for the latter, just because MUSHROOM HUNTER looks cooler on our business cards. It does look cool, right? R-right?

Tom, here - I just thought I'd use this handy caption space to warn you about the truly horrible, horrible pun in the final line of this Block of the Week article. May God have mercy on Duncan's soul.

Mushroom blocks first showed up in Minecraft in Beta 1.8 - the Adventure Update, the same time that the food system, villages, ravines and rivers first arrived, and that the Far Lands were removed from the game. If you break them without a Silk Touch tool, they'll drop 0-2 mushrooms of the same colour as the giant mushroom you get them from.

However, if you break them with a tool enchanted with Silk Touch (ideally an axe), then you'll get a mushroom block - and here's where the fun starts. Mushroom blocks will burn in a furnace, smelting 1.5 objects per block. They can also be placed and re-broken to get mushrooms which can then be turned into mushroom soup. Yum!

Or you can use them to build. Mushroom blocks are quickly broken (which is handy if you end up with a Creeper in your house and need an emergency back door), and won't burn. They're easy to collect in large quantities by applying bonemeal to a mushroom planted on the ground, making them a handy construction block.

You can even modify an existing huge mushroom into a house if you want to, by adding some walls and a door. They're the perfect size for a small outpost away from your main base, when you only need the essentials with you. And if anyone else finds it, they'll know that the person who lives there is a really, really fungi.