Agriculture is the main source of livelihood and earning besides cattle rearing and poultry at small scale. Females help their male counterparts in different agricultural activities like sowing, harvesting and threshing of crops, and storage of grains. They also look after the cattle and along with their children take the livestock to the nearby forests or grazing lands for grazing every morning and generally collect firewood, non–wood forest products and WEM when they return home. The tradition of accompanying children during the collection of non–wood forest products and WEM also transmits vital information about these valuable resources to the next generation. Kumar and Sharma  and Bhatia et al.  have also reported similar traditions for females and children in other parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
A total of 192 informants, 45% females and 55% males, provided information about the wild edible mushrooms (WEM) of Jammu district. Most of these informants were above the age of 50 yrs (52%) and literate (68%). Females, elderly (>50 yrs age) and illiterate informants accounted for significantly (P<0.05) higher number of WEM (Table 1). A number of other studies in Jammu and Kashmir [11, 48, 49], India [15-26] and other countries [29, 30, 50] have also reported the higher role of Females, elderly and illiterate informants in the collection of non–wood forest products and WEM.
Total fourteen species namely Agaricus californicus Peck, Auricularia auricula-judae (Bull.) Quel, Calvatia bovista (L.) Pers., Coprinellus micaceus (Bull.) Fr., Geastrum saccatum Fr., Lepiota procera (Scop.) Gray, Leucoagaricus rhodocephalus (Berk.) Pegler, Morchella esculenta (L.) Pers., Podaxis pistillaris (L.) Fr., Termitomyces clypeatus R. Heim, Termitomyces eurrhizus (Berk.) R. Heim, Termitomyces heimii Natarajan, Termitomyces striatus var. annulatus R. Heim, and Termitomyce sp. were being consumed by informants of district Jammu (Fig. 2a-m). Eleven species (78.6%) out of these WEM are new record for Jammu and Kashmir. As per the informants, reduction in forest areas (63% informants) is the prime reason for the lesser number of WEM in the study area (Fig. 3). Other reasons were; increasing agricultural fields (14.6% informants), lack of awareness about the local diversity of WEM amongst people (9.9% informants), and availability of fungal species in less quantities (6.8% informants). Besides, poor identification (7 informants) and non–documentation of edible and medicinal species of macrofungi (4 informants) have also been implicated in mushroom underutilization and some degree of inconsistencies in their usage. Kour , Akpaja et al.  and Teke et al.  has also reported anthropogenic disturbances, reduction in the forest area, and increasing urbanization as the major factors responsible for low diversity of macrofungus in their studies.
Agaricaceae with 5 genera and 5 species, and Lyophyllaceae with 1 genus and 5 species were the most important families, whereas the other three families were represented by one species each (Fig. 4). The higher use of members of Agaricaceae and Lyophyllaceae is in line with other studies [30, 51-53]. Higher percentage of these two families in most of the regional ethnomycology may be to their appealing taste and better income [11, 30] and/or easy to identify as edible and definite locations like termite mounds.
Termitomyces was the largest genera with 5 species (45.5%). The dominance of Termitomyces in the WEM is in accordance with most of the studies conducted in the tropical regions [29, 30, 50, 53-55] .
General perception of the local populace and folk taxonomy
As per most of the informants (>73.4%) thundering and lightning are the prime indicators of fruiting of WEM. Most of the elders (88.9%), having more than 50 yrs of age, believe that these natural phenomenons are responsible for bringing up WEM from the lap of mother earth. In the rainy season, they visit the termite mounds, wastelands, grazing lands and nearby forests, if present, after thundering and lightening (Table 2). Other workers [29, 30] have also reported thundering and lightning as an important indicator for mushroom hunting.
Another local perception regarding mushroom hunting is that while collecting wild edible fungus one should be silent to ensure that these mushrooms may appear in the next season at the same place. Kumar and Sharma  have reported that in the hilly tracks of Doda and Bhadarwah regions of Jammu and Kashmir, the tribes collect the mushrooms, especially morels, early in the morning.
Local people also broadly classified the use of white coloured mushrooms as edible while bright coloured mushrooms are considered poisonous. Some of the elderly informants said that they distinguish the edible fungus by their mild taste. These results are in line with Kumar and Sharma , Sagar et al.  and Sitotaw et al.  who have also reported colour of the mushroom as the prime indicator for identification of WEM.
In the present study, most of the local respondents did not come out with a good deal of descriptive vocabulary with respect to morphology, growth, and habit of macrofungi. As represented in table 3, there were some local names which were used for a group of fungi, e.g. agarics were commonly known as ‘Chattri’, puffballs as ‘Khucoon’, and earthstars as ‘Zameeni Tare’. Among agarics, Termitomyces species were particularly known as ‘Khumb’, ‘Tanna’, ‘Sootree’ or ‘Naadu’. However, the knowledge related to the folk nomenclature was scarce and limited in the study area in comparison to the other mycophilic regions of the state like Bhaderwah, Kishtwar and Ladakh where people had developed rich ethnotaxonomic knowledge and experience in the utilization of the wild edible mushroom resources. Kumar and Sharma  have thrown light on 37 vernaculars indigenously used for 71 wild mushrooms from Bhadarwah region of Jammu and Kashmir while as Dorjey  reported 45 vernaculars used for various mushroom species in three areas of Ladakh. Kour  also recorded different vernacular names like ‘Zameeni Tare’ (Astraeus hygrometricus), ‘Santri Chattri’ (Leucoagaricus rubrotinctus), ‘Sootree’ (Termitomyces heimii) from Poonch district.
Cultural importance index (CI)
The highest CI was recorded for Termitomyces sp. (CI = 0.57). Other important edible mushrooms were Termitomyces heimii (CI, 0.48), Termitomyces clypeatus (CI, 0.44) and Termitomyces striatus var. annulatus (CI, 0.39) (Table 3). Termitomyces spp. has wide acceptability worldwide due to high concentration of proteins, vitamins and minerals [55-58], lower fat contents and carbohydrates  and an important source of income . All these species grow on or around the termite mounds. As per Hindu religion, these termite mounds are sacred places where “Naag Devta” (snake deity) lives and people don’t disturb them and offer water and milk, and roat (a traditional chapatti made up of wheat flour, jaggery and desi ghee) on every Sunday. Thus, a religious belief provides protection and good nourishment to the fungal mycelium. Calvatia bovista (CI, 0.24), with a very restricted distribution in the study area, was eaten only in the young stages as some of the people were of the opinion that its consumption in later stages could cause gastrointestinal problems since they were prone to insect infestation when extended fully (Table 2).
All these edible species have some medicinal value (Table 3). Eleven species each were good against skin problems and development of immunity, and eight species for heart ailments. In some other parts of India, Termitomyces heimii is used in treatment for cold, fever, and fungal infections  and as blood tonic , and Termitomyces eurrhizus is used for lowering hypertension and curing of rheumatic pains and diarrhea . The fruiting bodies of Podoxis pistillaria are used against sunburn and the treatment of inflammation and skin diseases  and they also show antibacteria and antifungi activities [65, 66]. Edible and medicinal value of Calvatia bovista, Geastrum saccatum, Leucoagaricus rhodocephalus and Morchella esculanta has also been reported by researchers in other parts of the country and elsewhere in the world [8, 20, 28, 67-69].
Some of WEM viz. Agaricus californicus (CIgas, 0.03), Calvatia bovista (CIgas, 0.02) and Termitomyces clypeatus (CIgas, 0.01) were reported to have gastrointestinal irritation or mild toxicity. Mild toxicity of these species has also been mentioned by few authors [8, 70, 71] but poisoning is restricted to gastrointestinal upset in a few individuals, a statement well supported by fewer citations in the present study.
Informant consensus factor
The maximum consensus was recorded for the use of fleshy fungus as culinary with 596 citations and 0.98 Fic (Table 4), justifying their main utility as food. Similar findings have also been reported by Sitotaw et al.  in the community of district Menge of Ethiopia where WEM were utilized primarily for culinary purposes. The minimum homogeneity was found for immunity development (42 citations and 0.76 Fic). The high values of the informant consensus factor indicate greater homogeneity, and also show that informants share whatever knowledge lies with them about WEM .