Pokemon have been inspired by a wide range of things. However, it should come as no surprise to learn that most of them are based on living beings of one kind or another. After all, Pokemon is short for Pocket Monsters, which is relevant because monsters have always drawn a great deal of inspiration from the living beings that can be found all around us. Having said that, some of those sources of inspiration have been stranger than others. For proof, look no further than the multiple Pokemon that have been based on either mushrooms or things that have sometimes been mistaken for mushrooms.
Fungi can look very strange. For proof, look no further than clavarioid fungi, which are often called coral fungi because of their resemblance to the structures built by said invertebrates. As such, there are a number of Pokemon that have been mistaken for having been based on some kind of exotic fungus, though in truth, their roots laid elsewhere. One excellent example would be Cradily, which was introduced in Generation III. Unsurprisingly, it is very strange-looking. For those who are unfamiliar, it has a base with four protrusions that look like stubby proto-limbs. From that base rises a long, flexible neck connected to a bulbous head surrounded by eight tentacles that are arranged as though the eight petals of a flower. There are a pair of huge, staring eye-spots on the head. However, the true eyes are concealed within a small opening that run across the width of the head. Combined, Cradily looks like some kind of primitive monster plant, which in turn, means that it looks like some kind of primitive monster fungus because people aren’t always clear on the differences between a plant and a fungus. This impression is strengthened by the fact that the Fossil Pokemon is made using the Root Fossil. In truth, Cradily seems to be based on a number of marine animals. For example, its tentacles might be based on those of a sea anemone. Meanwhile, the rest of its form seems to be based on either a crinoid or tunicate. As for why Cradily is a Fossil Pokemon, well, suffice to say that mammals are relative newcomers to the scene that is terrestrial life.
Speaking of which, Eldegoss is another Pokemon that might be mistaken for having been based on some kind of fungus. This is because the bulk of its body is a huge white sphere, which can look a lot like a puffball when seen from a distance. However, when one takes a closer look, it becomes clear that Eldegoss isn’t a puffball Pokemon. Instead, it was based on the cotton flower, which would be the source of the single most used natural fibre that can be found in the entire world. Amusingly, Eldegoss seems to be used that way within the Pokemon setting. Apparently, their cotton can be woven together with that of the Cottonee to create a high-quality fabric that sees much use by luxury brands. Furthermore, Eldegoss produces seeds as well, which are nutritious for both humans and Pokemon. As for these Pokemon themselves, it is interesting to note that they have high Defense and even higher Special Defense. Something that is explained to an extent by their clever use of their cotton for protective purposes.
Foongus are the first Pokemon on this list to have been inspired by a mushroom rather than something that might be mistaken for a mushroom. Indeed, they literally just look like cartoon mushrooms, coming complete with a face on their stipe. However, that isn’t Foongus’s most notable feature. Instead, that would be the fact that their cap looks a lot like a Pokeball from a top-down perspective. Generation V used this to very irritating effect. Simply put, the Unova titles still had a top-down perspective, meaning that it wasn’t possible to distinguish between Pokeballs containing items and Foongus pretending to be Pokeballs containing items. They weren’t the toughest fights, but they were still time-eaters in their own way. Having said this, it is kind of fun to think about why a Pokemon would look like a Pokeball. There is one lore entry that says that no one knows what Foongus look the way that they do. This is overwhelmed by multiple lore entries that say that they use their look to lure in either humans or Pokemon before unleashing their poison. Considering that their evolution is an explicit carnivore, this is rather concerning.
Amoonguss would be that evolution. It is bigger, stronger, and tougher than its pre-evolution. However, it is hard to imagine an Amoonguss having much success pretending to be a Pokeball. After all, even ignoring the considerable increase in size, it no longer consists of a single cap resting upon a single stipe. Now, Amoonguss has a single, oversized mushroom that serves as its main body plus a couple of smaller mushrooms that serve as makeshift arms. The hilarious part is that Amoonguss apparently hasn’t updated its tactics much because it will still use its mushrooms in an attempt at luring in Pokemon. In fact, it will go as far as to use them in a swaying dance, which explains much about why most Pokemon won’t fall for the move. The less hilarious part is that Amoonguss are just as eager to break out the poison as before, which sounds rather nasty when one learns that said poison can grow into mushrooms wherever it lands unless it is washed off.
Paras is a Pokemon from Generation I. It is both a Bug Pokemon and a Grass Pokemon. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that Paras looks like a bug with a pair of mushroom growing on its back. It is interesting to note that the mushrooms are separate entities from the bug itself, seeing as how they can be removed without issue for the latter. However, the two seem to have a mutually beneficial relationship with one another at this point in their existence. The mushrooms do take nutrients from the bug. Still, they make up for that by providing Paras with Grass-type capabilities, thus making it much more well-rounded.
Parasect is when that relationship becomes horrifying. Paras’s evolution has a number of notable characteristics. For instance, it is now much bigger, with the result that its foremost pair of legs now seem like they have a fair amount of power packed into them. Similarly, it no longer has two small mushrooms. Instead, its back is covered by a single huge mushroom. The most unnerving feature would be Parasect’s blank white eyes, which are noticeably different from those of its pre-evolution. This is very much intentional. After all, blank white eyes in anime and animesque media can indicate that a life-form isn’t conscious. Indeed, Parasect is no longer the Paras. Instead, it is the mushroom that has taken over the Paras. Something that can happen with certain kinds of parasites in the real world as well.
Appearance-wise, Shroomish isn’t that reminiscent of the stereotypical mushroom. However, it should be mentioned that there are mushrooms that look like round balls, whether because they have no stipe or because their stipe is concealed by the way that they grow. In any case, there can be no doubt about the fact that Shroomish was based on a mushroom because there are so many things about them that echo their source of inspiration. For example, these Pokemon feed upon decaying matter. Similarly, these Pokemon enjoy the dampness, with the result that they are very active after the rain. Of course, Shroomish are also very poisonous, though to be fair, it shares that one with a lot of the other Pokemon on this list. Performance-wise, these Pokemon aren’t very impressive. They don’t hit very hard, but they are somewhat tougher than normal. Still, these Pokemon don’t need to be because most players treated Shroomish as just a prelude to their evolution, which was much more promising in that regard.
For starters, Breloom is both a Grass Pokemon and a Fighting Pokemon, which was a rare combination in its time and not that much more common now. Look-wise, it is much more curious. The mushroom inspiration is still there. After all, Breloom has the cap of a mushroom on top of its head, with the result that it looks a lot like it is wearing a kind of wide-brimmed Japanese hat called a kasa. However, its body looks like a combination between a kangaroo and a dinosaur. Breloom has a pair of powerful-looking legs plus a pair of much more understated arms. Moreover, it has claws on both of these limbs. Breloom’s tail is rather reminiscent of a kangaroo’s tail as well, though it has a cluster of what are said to be toxic spores at the end. Lore-wise, these Pokemon are very interesting in that they are said to be formidable fighters. Surprisingly, it isn’t a kick-based fighter. Instead, Breloom uses its powerful legs to move in and out while it dismantles its opponents with fast and furious punches from its arms, which are much stretchier than what one might expect based on first impressions. Some people have pointed out that the hat has played a role in these Pokemon being Fighting Pokemon, seeing as how kasa are often worn by stereotypical samurai and soldiers in pre-modern Japan.
Morelull is another example of a Pokemon that is very close to its source of inspiration. In its case, it has a stipe that connects to its head at one end and splits to form a sort of foot at the other end. From its head, it grows a trio of colorful mushrooms that are capable of releasing great quantities of spores. However, Morelull doesn’t use these spores to poison their enemies. Indeed, they don’t come with any Poison moves unless they have had one bred into them. Instead, Morelull can use the bioluminescence of these spores to make their enemies fall asleep, though that isn’t enough to prevent some Pokemon from eating their mushroom caps anyways. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to damage them too much, seeing as how they are apparently capable of regenerating the lost mushroom caps in a single night. Regardless, Morelull’s light shows are apparently quite beautiful, so much so that local humans have been known to organize trips to see them. Something that fits very well with their status as a part-Fairy Pokemon.
Morelull evolves into Shiinotic, which retains the same themes but take them in an interesting direction. When someone sees this Pokemon for the first time, chances are good that they are going to think of stereotypical aliens because they have the simplified face, the frail arms, and the elongated fingers. They would be right to do so because that is exactly what Shiinotic is supposed to evoke, which actually makes a fair amount of sense because fairy stories and alien stories do get blended together a lot in certain circles. Behavior-wise, these Pokemon are a decent reminder of the less pleasant side of fairy stories. For example, their spores can put people to sleep while their lights can cause people to become confused, which is a very nasty combination considering that they like to live in dark woods. Similarly, Shiinotic are capable of sucking out a victim’s vitality through its fingers, though they show a surprisingly responsible side as well because they will pass that vitality on to other Shiinotic who are in a bad condition. Combined, these Pokemon seem like they would make for dangerous friends and even more dangerous enemies. Something that has made for some of the coolest Pokemon out there.