Fight fire with fungi: Mushroom cannons eyed for forest recovery

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In the United Kingdom, designer American designer Suzie McMurtry has created a mushroom spore “cannon” that can help detoxify soil after a wildfire.

Dubbed Living with Wildfire, the system is comprised of a flame-retardant mycelium pod and a steel container full of water and dormant mushroom spores, closed with a cork.

The idea is the fire would evaporate the water, building pressure in the steel container that launches the cork—with spores trailing behind it to take root after the fire.

“I’m from California,” McMurtry tells design publication dezeen. “I moved to the UK just after the summer of 2020 following one of the deadliest and most widespread wildfire seasons. And over the last year, I’ve seen the rising heat in England. So, I wanted to create something that could be a symbol of regeneration, but also an acknowledgement that the climate risk of wildfire is increasing even here.”

Living with Wildfire is McMurtry’s graduate project from the MA Material Futures at Central Saint Martins.  “Living with Wildfire encourages reflection, adaptation and bioremediation while leaving room for the grief that comes with witnessing a changing bioregion,” McMurtry explained.