What type of mushroom/fungus is this?

What type of mushroom/fungus is this?

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I had someone gift me some old firewood along with some other wood I had purchased from them. I was told the wood in question is popple. However, it was in pretty bad shape and much of it had a mushroom/fungus growing on it.

Does anyone recognize this fungi? The trees lived in central Minnesota, and sat close to a lake for a year or so.

These are shelf (or bracket) fungi. They love dead or diseased wood, and are as common in woods as dirt.

Yours are kind of in rough shape (it looks like they're experiencing some problems of their own.) It's hard without examining a specimen to determine exactly which it is.

Some are edible, some are beautifully colored, some are hard, some soft, some plump, etc. But they are all shelf fungi.

8.16: Fungi and Human Disease

  • Contributed by CK-12: Biology Concepts
  • Sourced from CK-12 Foundation

Would you eat these mushrooms?

I would not recommend it. But certain red mushrooms, Ganoderma Lucidum, have been found to be good for you. Red Mushrooms comprise a family of more than 200 mushroom species, which are good for our health. Of these, 6 species have a particularly high therapeutic effect.

Here Are The 20 Different Types Of Fungi With Pictures

1. Bear’s Head Tooth Mushroom

Bear’s Head Tooth Mushroom is a unique species fungus that is normally white in color and fleshy. The fungus basically grows on dead or dying wood. However, the fungi are the Hericium which are the part of Hericiaceae family. The white color fungi have no poisonous if you want you can eat it. Though the fungi are not dirty, they can have little bugs in it. So before cooking, you should clean it.

2. Bioluminescent Fungi

Bioluminescent Fungi are largely founded in the wet and cold places. The fungi are the members of the Agaricales, most familiar types of mushrooms. This kind of Mushroom emits a slight green color, but they are not actually green. Only the living cells of the mushrooms can emit the color.

3. Black Jelly Roll

Black Jelly Roll Fungi are dirty looking Mushrooms which are the members of the Auriculariaceae. Though the fungi look so dirty, it has health benefits. These types of fungi with pictures can help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. As well as the same types of Fungi have huge proteins, fats, and Iron. But before taking a decision to eat it, just test it, whether it would contain poisonous.

4. Bleeding Tooth Fungus

Bleeding Tooth Fungus is scientifically known as the Hydnellum Peckii. The thick red fluid drops across its tiny hole which creating the appearances of blood. However, it contains aromantic which used to dye fabrics.

5. Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods is named after its meaty taste. These kinds of mushrooms can see available here and there. The yellow-orange colors mushrooms can eat. According to research, different types of Fungi have different activities. These fungi provide you the test like chicken meat as well as protein but sometimes it causes gastric pain in certain people.

6. Clathrus Columnatus, also known as the Column Stinkhorn

The fungi are a member of Phallaceae. These fungi are common across the Gulf Coast where they can appear occasionally. These kinds of fungi grow alone sometimes together closely to woody pieces, gardens, cultivated soil, and lawns.

7. Cogumelo Mushroom

Cogumelo Mushroom is the kingdom of Fungi and the members of Agaricales. They are usually known as the Mushroom of the Sun. These kinds of Fungi are used for an anti-cancer effect which is used traditionally and alternative medicine. However, the sweet taste fungi are eaten by the people but you have to concern and ensured its cleaning before cooking.

8. Dog Stinkhorn

Dog Stinkhorn is also known as the Mutinus Canunus. They are the family of Phallaceae and the classes of Agaricomycetes. The phallus-shaped fungi grow normally in wet and dark places. They grow together on woody pieces as well as in leaf fragments. The fungi can see in Europe, Asia, Eastern North America during the Summer and Autumn.

9. Giant Puffball

The Giant Puffball is one of the biggest Mushroom in all Fungi. The Fungus is also called Calvatia gigantea. The strange-looking fungi sometimes grow with egg-shape of Camel. These kinds of Fungi normally found in temperature areas across the world in fields, grassland, etc. The Giant Fungi would grow up to 10 to 50 cm.

10. Jack O’Lantern Mushroom

Jack O’Lantern Mushroom is also known as the Omphalotus Olearius which is the family of Marasmiaceae. The poisonous fungi grow with a small group in wet places, on graves or in the base of hardwood trees.

11. Octopus Stinkhorn

Octopus Stinkhorn is similar to the Dog Stinkhorn Mushrooms. They are also the family of Phallaceae and the classes of Agaricomycetes. They grow together on woody pieces as well as in leaf fragments and the dry places. The fungi also can see in Europe, Asia, Eastern North America during the Summer and Autumn like the Dog Stinkhorn. The name of the Fungi came from the shape of Octopus.

12. Red Cage Fungus

The beautiful fungi but sometimes dirty and strange looks Mushroom found through North America and Europe. You can see different types of fungi with pictures but the Red Cage is the fungi of the Stinkhorn family. They mainly grow on the dead body and rots in the deep forest.

13. Skyblue Mushroom

Skyblue Mushroom is one of the cutest looking Fungi. They are found basically on the various island of NewZealand and in the Indian subcontinent occasionally. The fungi’s scientific name is Entoloma Hochstetter. Though according to scientific, these kinds of fungi actually not edible because it contains poisonous.

14. The False Morel (Gyromitra Escolenta)

The False Morel is one kind of Fungi that belongs in the class of Pezizomycetes and a member of the Discinaceae family. Different types of Fungi used for multiple purposes, however, the False Morel is well known as the Brain Mushroom, Elephant Ears as well as turban fungus because of its shape. These kinds of Mushroom contain some poisonous so it is not actually edible.

15. The Gem-studded Puffball

The Gem-studded Puffball is one kind of Mushroom that is well known as the common puffball, warted puffball as well as devil’s snuff-box. The fungus is the family of Agaricaceae. The round fruit body shaped puffball basically grows in gardens, roadsides, grassy cleaning places as well as the on the deadwood. However, these kinds of Fungi are edible but you have to ensure, it is young and just its internal flesh nothing else.

16. The Sea Anemone Fungus

The Sea Anemone Fungus is the best known as the starfish fungus for its shape. The red star-shaped fungus normally found in the garden, grassy areas and as like the places.

17. The Veiled Lady

The Veiled Lady is the fungus in the family Phallaceae and the class of Agaricomycetes. The fungus is also known as the Bamboo fungus, bamboo pith, long net stinkhorn as well as the Phallus Indusiatus. However, It is found in tropical areas including Southern Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia. The fungi grow in woodlands, rich soil, on rotted woody as well as in gardens. Anyway, Do you know, why it is called the Veiled Lady? Because of wearing a veil in its body.

18. The Violet Coral

The Violet Coral fungus grows with a small group. The fungus name came from its color. The fungus is also called the magenta coral as well. However, it helps to recycle nutrition from a dead body or rooted things and provide food and shelter for different tiny creatures. Thus The Fungi play an effective role in our exosystem.

19. Wrinkled Peach

The Wrinkled Peach is one of the unique shapes Fungi which is well known as the rosy vein cap that belong in the fungus family Physalacriaceae. The edibility of the Mushrooms depends on the source consulted.

20. Eyelash Cup Fungus

Eyelash Cup is one kind of Fungi which are well known as the Scutellinia Scutellata. The Molly eye-winker shape fungi are the members of Pyronemataceae family and the class of Pezizomycetes. There has a conflict with its edibility. Some scientist said that it is edible and some of them said it is actual, not edible because of containing some of poisonous. However, the thorny fungus looks cute but not enough cute to eat it. Anyway, the fungus grows to throw the jungle and its wet places as well as on the dead body and rotted things.

I write about new technologies, often hardware, equipment, and 3D technology, but sometimes mobile and in the cloud. I like to help owners and executives of small and medium enterprises to discover how to use these tools to grow their businesses. In the past, I have penciled the Wall Street Journal, Make, Sports Afield, Pittsburgh Business Times and many others.


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University research has identified the oldest known specimen of a fungus parasitizing an ant, and the fossil also represents a new fungal genus and species.

“It’s a mushroom growing out of a carpenter ant,” said OSU’s George Poinar Jr., an international expert in using plant and animal life forms preserved in amber to learn about the biology and ecology of the distant past.

A mushroom is the reproductive structure of many fungi, including the ones you find growing in your yard, and Poinar and a collaborator in France named their discovery Allocordyceps baltica. They found the new type of Ascomycota fungi in an ant preserved in 50-million-year-old amber from Europe’s Baltic region.

“Ants are hosts to a number of intriguing parasites, some of which modify the insects’ behavior to benefit the parasites’ development and dispersion,” said Poinar, who has a courtesy appointment in the OSU College of Science. “Ants of the tribe Camponotini, commonly known as carpenter ants, seem especially susceptible to fungal pathogens of the genus Ophiocordyceps, including one species that compels infected ants to bite into various erect plant parts just before they die.”

Doing so, he explains, puts the ants in a favorable position for allowing fungal spores to be released from cup-shaped ascomata – the fungi’s fruiting body –protruding from the ants’ head and neck. Carpenter ants usually make their nests in trees, rotting logs and stumps.

The new fungal genus and species shares certain features with Ophiocordyceps but also displays several developmental stages not previously reported, Poinar said. To name the genus, placed in the order Hypocreales, Poinar and fellow researcher Yves-Marie Maltier combined the Greek word for new – alloios – with the name of known genus Cordyceps.

“We can see a large, orange, cup-shaped ascoma with developing perithecia – flask-shaped structures that let the spores out – emerging from the rectum of the ant,” Poinar said. “The vegetative part of the fungus is coming out of the abdomen and the base of the neck. We see freestanding fungal bodies also bearing what look like perithecia, and in addition we see what look like the sacs where spores develop. All of the stages, those attached to the ant and the freestanding ones, are of the same species.”

The fungus could not be placed in the known ant-infecting genus Ophiocordyceps because ascomata in those species usually come out the neck or head of an ant, Poinar said, and not the rectum.

“There is no doubt that Allocordyceps represents a fungal infection of a Camponotus ant,” he said. “This is the first fossil record of a member of the Hypocreales order emerging from the body of an ant. And as the earliest fossil record of fungal parasitism of ants, it can be used in future studies as a reference point regarding the origin of the fungus-ant association.”

Findings were published in Fungal Biology.

12 of the Most Common Types of Mushrooms

There are those of us who don't mind taking risks in life in every part of our lives except when it comes to our diet. (We prefer the cheeseburger and chicken finger offerings on the child's menu over more age-appropriate adult fare, for example.) But the beauty of food is that you never know until you try it. And once you open yourself up&mdashno matter how reluctantly&mdashto trying new things, you may be surprised by just how delicious (and decadent!) a fruity trifle can be or how lovely a shaved Brussels sprouts salad tastes.

But yes, while accepting fruits and vegetables is one thing, eating a fungus is a whole different issue. But knowledge is power! Mushrooms are low in calories, low in fat, low in sodium, and free from cholesterol. They're also full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Still unmoved? They are also delicious when prepared properly, like say polenta cakes with a side of sautéed mushrooms. And while it would be impossible to tell you about every kind of mushroom&mdashthere are more than 10,000 after all&mdashwe can discuss some of the most common mushroom types along with what they're best used for.

Yet another type of agaricus bisporus, the portobello is the oldest variety of the three featured here. While they were once only imported from Italy, they now grow all over the United States. Thanks to their large size and meaty flavor, they can be swapped in for meat on pretty much anything&mdashsandwiches, pizza, pasta sauces, omelettes, and more!

Another form of agaricus bisporus&mdashcremini mushrooms are just an older version of the button mushroom. Because of their age, their a bit browner and bit firmer, which means they're great for soups and stews.

The grifola frondosa species is also known as "hen-of-the-woods," "ram's head," and "sheep's head." Popular for centuries in Japanese and Chinese cuisine, the maitake generally grows at the base of oak trees. Add them to pizza or ramen for a hearty meat alternative.

Agaricus bisporus come in white and brown varieties and are by far the most popular mushroom in the United States, thanks to their mild flavor and propensity to blend with whatever dish they're added to. Sauté them in white wine and butter for an extra rich side dish.

The hydnum repandum is also known as the "sweet tooth," and it's easily identifiable thanks to its yellow or orange cap, toothy underside, and fruity odor. After washing, sauté them in butter for a delicious treat.

The honeycomb-textured wild morchela is especially popular in French cuisine. Hard to find and, therefore, rather expensive, these mushrooms have a tougher (less slimy) feel and a nutty flavor&mdashso even people who think they don't like mushrooms generally like this kind.

The lentinula edodes species of mushrooms is often used in Asian cuisine. The long stems&ndashtopped by a dark brown, umbrella-like cap&mdashare removed during prep because they are too tough to chew.

Boletus edulis is more commonly called "porcino" or "fungo porcino"&mdashItalian for "hog mushrooms." They generally have a reddish-brown cap that sits atop a white stem. Porcini are often used in risottos and soups.

Hypomyces lactifluorum is pretty easy to pick out of a lineup thanks to its bright red color and seafood-like smell and taste when cooked. But guess what? It's not actually a mushroom. It's a mold that attacks mushrooms. Sauté them with white wine for a delicious treat.

The flammulina velutipes is another favorite in Japanese cuisine. The long white mushroom works especially well in soups, noodle dishes, and salads.

Cantharellus cibarius are known for their fan-like shape and come in a variety of colors ranging from orange to yellow to white. While they have a fruity odor, their taste is more earthy, which makes them perfect for stews and soups, or sauté them in butter and white wine and eat them on their own.

This variety of mushrooms grows in clumps and boasts quarter-size caps and a crunchy texture. Because of their fishy flavor, they're perfectly paired with all manner of seafood dishes.

Types of Mushrooms: Stinkhorns

Along with the typical lawn mushrooms, city and suburban residents can think stinkhorn as part of their mushroom education.

Take a look around the lawn and garden, especially around mulch and woodchips, and, well, the odor does the rest. Generally speaking, these mushrooms or fungus are not poisonous or harmful. They just have a very, very, very unpleasant odor. The foul odor attracts flies and helps spread the spores.

Here’s a brief rundown of five common stinkhorn mushrooms that show up, usually during the fall.

You can call the specimen in the first picture the Elegant Stinkhorn or the Devil’s Dipstick, depending on your disposition.

Ravenel’s Stinkhorn can also show up in the same lawns and gardens in most areas East of the Rocky Mountains.

Same foul smell, different genera and the white color of the stem.

The following four stinkhorns have an orange to red color and a slightly different structure. They represent three different stinkhorn genera.

Up first, the Stinky Squid.

The Lattice or Red-caged Stinkhorn also pops up in many Eastern gardens.

The Column Stinkhorn belongs to the same genus as the Lattice Stinkhorn. It’s range is more restricted to the Gulf Coast States, although it can be found in the Northeast.

Anemone Stinkhorns look like they can be found in the Intertidal Zone. They actually can be found all around the world in tropical and subtropical climates.

Apart from stinkhorn mushrooms, questions about the types of mushrooms commonly found growing in the lawn also get asked frequently. No one wants their pets or the small children accidentally eating a poisonous mushroom.

Fortunately most of the common lawn mushrooms cause no harm to animals or children. Most are gilled mushrooms, although depending on the landscaping, bolete mushrooms can easily pop up in the lawn if there is a host tree or shrub. Check out the shelf mushrooms section to determine the severity of the problem of finding a shelf mushroom on any tree in the yard.



300 dkk per kilo

The chanterelle is a fine, small yellow mushroom with noticeable gills. Like many of the other edible mushrooms, it is a mycorrhizal fungus, which means it lives symbiotically with trees, growing its mycelium in or around the tree’s roots. The chanterelle’s pleasant taste and lovely texture can be fully appreciated on a piece of toasted bread.

Facts about Fungi

While many people are avid foragers, some may not know just what mushrooms are. Mushrooms are actually the fruiting bodies of larger organisms called fungi. Think of a mushroom as the apple and the fungus as the tree.

Fungi grow typically as a dense mass of thread-like cells. This mass is called mycelium. If you ever pulled loose bark off of a rotting log, the white or light brown threads that fan out across the surface of the rotting wood is part of the mycelium and is the main body of the fungus.As the mycelium collects energy and continues to grow, it can produce mushrooms for reproduction, to form and release spores.

Types of Fungi

There are many, many different types of fungi and not all of them produce mushrooms. Even the mushroom-producing types of fungi vary greatly in their life-histories. Some grow on living trees, others only on dead wood. Still others are only found growing out of the soil. One strange fungi, the lobster mushroom, actually is a parasitic fungus that attacks other fungi.

Fungi are not like plants in that they do not produce their own food through photosynthesis. Instead, they need to capture their energy from other sources. Many species are pathogenic, meaning they attack and feed off of other organisms.

A great example of this is the “honey mushroom." The fruiting bodies are a select edible mushroom, but the fungus itself (Armillaria ostoyae) is actually a serious forest disease as it infects tree pecies, causing the roots and lower trunk to decay, potentially killing the tree.

Saprophytic: Other fungal species are saprophytic, feeding on dead organic matter. Morels fall into this category. Some saprophytic mushrooms grow on dead wood, such as chicken-of-the-woods and oyster mushrooms. Others grow on organic material in the soil.

Mutualists: A third group of mushrooms are mutualists. These species work with their host organism to the mutual benefit of both species. Many of our native plant species actually need the help of a fungus to grow. These fungi will associate with the roots of plants to form structures called mycorrhizae that help uptake nutrients and transport water to the plant roots. Edible mycorrhizal mushrooms include chanterelles, which are some of the most common edible mushrooms growing in Illinois during the summer, and truffles, which compete with morels as being the most famous wild mushrooms worldwide.

What type of mushroom/fungus is this? - Biology

First posted June 18, 2004* Last updated May 24, 2007

Fungi are rarely seen,
so we often think of them as rare or unimportant.
B ut nothing could be further from the truth:

Life on Earth could not exist without fungi

Fungi are essential for
(1) proper plant root function, and
(2) breaking down dead organic material into
simple compounds that plants can absorb.

When we think of fungi, we usually think of mushrooms, either the kind in the grocery store or the type that grow on the forest floor after a rain. Compared to redwoods, they are rather small, and compared to crops like corn or wheat, they seem insignificant and unimportant, rather a minor player, a small, insignificant plant we can ignore.

Fungi are both important and unique. They are important enough that life on Earth could not exist without them, and they are so unique that they are placed in their own Kingdom, on a classification level equal with the classification level "Plant" or "Animal". Far from being "small, insignificant plants", they are essential to our own survival and that of every plant and animal on the planet. And they are not "plants"! It may surprise you, but if they were not placed in their own Kingdom and were forced to be classified as either a plant or an animal, they would be placed with the animals, based on biological markers of evolution. Fungi share more molecular similarity with animals than with plants, implying that plants evolved from one ancestor and fungi and animals from another.

Fungi are characterized by the fact that they are generally multicellular organisms, with a nucleus and a cell wall made of chitin (the same material that makes up the external skeletons of insects) and a unique mechanism of acquiring nourishment. In distinction from plants, which make their own food ("autotrophs", via chlorophyll), and animals which eat food ("heterotrophs", via eating plants or other animals), fungi neither eat nor make food: they absorb food. If you were a fungus and you wanted to "eat" a chocolate cake, you would stick your fingers into the cake, drip digestive chemicals off your fingers, and absorb the cake directly through your skin into your body! That is how fungi eat: they send parts of their body (hyphae) directly into their food, secret chemicals which helps to break the food down into simpler molecules, and then asbsorb the food directly into their cells.

Fungi are not rare: they are everywhere. Just leave a piece of bread or fruit out on a plate and see how long it takes for a colony of fungi to grow. Compare this to plants: if you left out a tray of soil, how long might it take for a plant to sprout? Years? Fungi are everywhere, with billions of spores settling out of the air all the time. They are also present on the roots of virtually all vascular plants (ferns, conifers, and flowering plants), which depend on the fungi for many things.

Fungi assist plant roots in four ways

The fungi on plant roots form an association called mycorrhizae, a complex mutually benefical association. The mycorrhyzae increase the surface area of the roots. How much? One centimeter of root has about 3 meters of hyphae, an increase in length of 300x. This increases the surface area for the absorption of water. Ten cubic centimeters of soil may have 1 kilometer of fungal hyphae, having a fungal surface area of 300 square centimeters interfacing with the soil. In addition, the fungus actively and selectively absorbs minerals (especially phosphate ions) that the plant needs and transfers them to the plant, while excluding minerals that the plant does not need (sodium ions). The fungus also secretes growth factors that stimulate root growth and branching, as well as antibiotics that protect the root from pathologic bacteria and pathologic fungi. Remember, the antibiotic penicillin comes from the common bread mold, Penicilium. The root is just one organism growing in an underground world of competing and hostile bacteria, fungi (there are 30,000 species of fungus that are pathological to plants!), and animals (nematodes), so the root needs all the help it can get. Fungi are very important to the health, growth, and function of roots.

Fungi are the world's most important recyclers

Fungi are also important in the recycling of organic material and nutrients. Without fungi breaking down dead plant and animal matter, carbon and other molecules essential to life would be locked in organic molecules that are too large for plants to absorb. Fungi break down organic molecutes, which are large, complex structures too large to pass across the cell walls of roots, into their inorganic constituents, such as carbon, nitrogen, and other constituents, which are much smaller (atoms). The air is so loaded with fungal spores, that the minute a plant or an animal dies, it is covered with spores. The fungal hyphae secrete exoenzymes and rapidly enter the body of the dead animal or plant.

While we may applaud the fungi as they rid the world of dead organic material and make those nutrients available for re-use, it is a different story as they destroy our food and coat our shower curtains. It is estimates that each year fungi destroy 10% to 50% of our fruit crops, and a wood-digesting fungi does not differentiate between a fallen limb and a plank on a boat. During the Revolutionary War, the British lost more ships to fungal attack than to enemy attack. Soldiers who were stationed in the tropics during World War II saw their tents, clothes, boots, and some equipment be destroyed by molds.

The vegetative (nutritionally active, as opposed to the reproductive) body of most fungi is usually hidden, being diffusely organized around and within the tissues of the food sources. Except for yeasts, which are unicellular, most fungi are multicellular, composed of tiny filaments called hyphae. The hyphae are composed of cell walls made of chitin (the same material that makes up the external skeleton of an insect), a cell membrane, and cytoplasm. The hyphae form a interwoven mat called a mycelium, which is the "feeding" network of a fungus.

The reproductive mechanisms of fungi are quite varied. Some reproduce sexually, with some cells being haploid (n, that is, only one set of chromosomes, like a human egg or sperm), some diploid (2n, that is, having a complete set of two of each chromosome, like most cells in a human body), and some being heterokaryous (n+n, that it, two sets of diploid chromosomes, but not united into a complete set of two copies of each chromosomes). Others reproduce asexually, such as the single-celled yeast, that merely grow a miniature yeast on their side, called a bud. This process is called budding.

The life cycle of a fungus begins with a spore, the reproductive body. It is like a seed, in that it grows up into the adult organism, and, like a seed, it is highly resistant to drying out, which would kill the spore. Unlike a seed, which is a multicelled zygote plus nourishment, the spore is a single cell. When the spore starts to grow, a hypha begins to grow out of the spore. All hyphae are only one cell wide but many cells long. The body of a fungus is built up out of many threads of hyphae, collectively called the mycelium. The mycelium grows within the substance of its food: soil, plants, animals, people, dead wood or vegetation. When growing conditions are favorable, the fungus sends up fruiting bodies, which we recognize as mushrooms or other structures. These fruiting bodies produce more spores. As noted above, fungi are so prolific in producing spores that millions are raining down all the time. You can't put out a piece of bread without it being instantly colonized with fungal spores. If you keep it moist, it will have recognizable fungi growing on it in just 3 to 5 days.

This form of reproduction is called asexual reproduction. Many (but not all) fungi also reproduce sexually, but each of the four divisions of fungi have their own unique way of doing it.

Four types of fungi

There are four phyla in the Kingdom Fungi: chytrids (Chytridiomycota), zygote fungi (Zygomycota), sac fungi (Ascomycetes), and club fungi (Basidiomycetes). Mushrooms are the reproductive structures of Basiomycetes ("basidium" means "little pedestal"), and the yeast that make our breads rise and our beer and wine alcoholic are either Ascomycetes or Basidiomycetes. Let's look at the four types in more detail.

Chytrids (Chytridiomycota): The Primitive Fungi

These fungi are mostly aquatic, are notable for having a flagella on the cells (a flagella is a tail, somewhat like a tail on a sperm or a pollywog), and are thought to be the most primitive type of fungi.

Zygote Fungi (Zygomycota):
The Molds, Mychorrhizeal, and Decomposing Fungi

Common black bread mold is a zygote fungi, and all of the mycorrhizae are zygote fungi, or zygomycetes (the suffix -mycete means "fungus".) They all are composed only of hyphae, which gives rise to another common name for this phylum: the Threadlike Fungi. They are important decomposers of dead organic matter, so this is a very important group. They can reproduce either sexually or asexually. Their cells may not have cell walls between the cells (septa), so the nuclei can move along the hyphae and it is hard to tell where one cell ends and another begins. They are mostly terrestial and live in soil or on decaying plant and animal material.

Common mold Rhizopus destroying a tasty bunch of strawberries

Lets look at the mold on the strawberry a little closer, so we can learn more about this common type of fungus.

Sac Fungi (Ascomycetes): Mildews, Yeasts, and Morels

Mildews and yeasts are part of the sac fungi, as well as the morels, mushrooms that are very highly prized for their flavor. They can cost hundreds of dollars an ounce, so this group is rather important, too. It is the largest group of fungi, with over 60,000 described species (according to Campbell's), and are found in a variety of habitats, including marine, freshwater, and terrestrial. They range in size from the single-celled yeasts to the tasty morels.

Club Fungi (Basidiomycetes): The Mushrooms

This group, with about 25,000 species, contains the mushrooms and the shelf fungi. The majority of the fungus is underground, but when it needs to reproduce, the fruiting body, called a basidiocarp by scientists by called a mushroom by everyone else, is formed.

The name comes from the Latin "basidium", which means "little pedestal", obviously referring to the mushroom shape.

For more information on mushroom, click here.

Something Fun about Fungi

My Foot Fungus Author unknown
via Fungifama, So. Vancouver Island Myco. Soc., May 2000

I'm growing fungus on my feet.
To tell the truth, it's kinda neat.
I grew it for my science class.
It's got so big, I'm bound to pass.

But it's not easy growing mold.
You must keep it dark and from the cold.
Put your socks on when they're wet,
And feed your fungus lots of sweat

It's been a month since I last showered,
And because of this, it's truly flowered.
It's amazing just how fast it grows.
You've never seen such fuzzy toes!

It has the most delightful hue.
It's sorta green and sorta blue.
But there are drawbacks to its fungal riches.
You won't believe how much it itches.
And the smell is gross, I have to say.
But it's worth it all to get an "A''.

The Natural Kingdom has a section on Fungus.
University of Hawaii Introduction to the Fungi.
Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, has an interesting site.
Tom Volk, a professor of biology, has a great site.


The section on fungi is based almost entirely on the excellent book Biology, by Campbell and Reece. It is a college text for beginning biology students. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If it has been a few years (!) since you have had biology, you will not believe how much things have changed. Not only is there a lot more known about biology, the presentation of the material is vastly improved. From text that is closer to literature than dry explanation, to color illustrations and color photographs that are so widely used, I doubt that in its entire 1240 pages, there are any without at least three or more color graphics of some sort. And that does not even begin to explore the enclosed CD or associated online material. I will eat my hat if you don't love the book. I bought mine online, at

This section is also based on my daughter Maggie's seventh-grade biology book, Focus on Life Science, part of the Prentice-Hall Science Explorer Series. It may be hard to believe, but almost all of the material on this page is seventh grade science! A lot has changed since I was in seventh grade.

The photograph of mycorrhyzae was found at website for St Anselm College, but appears to be from Campbell's Biology, referenced above. The photograph of the structure of a mushroom was from the website for a software company, efflare. The chytrid photo is from Cal Poly. The top photo of mold on the strawberries is taken from the University of Alaska webpage on fungi, but seems to be orginally from Campbell's Biology. The other photographs of mold on strawberries, including the closeup, were taken by D. Nelson. The morel is from Penn State's webpage on fungi. The club fungi is from the Finnish University and Research Network website. The fairy ring was from the Alabama Cooperative Extension's website on agricultural pests.

*This webpage was originally created while at 30,000 feet, flying from Paris to San Francisco, June 18, 2004.

Ecological Functions

The characteristics of fungi not only function to keep the organism alive and reproduce, they also function on a broad ecological scale. For example, the fruiting bodies of fungus are important food and medicine for many animals, including humans! The mycelium is incredibly important for the forest as a whole. In fact, without mycelium, the soil wouldn’t have enough “glue” to keep it together and would wash away entirely. Many fungi have extremely important symbiotic relationships with plants and animals. Perhaps the most notable of these relationships are fungi called mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizae associate with plant roots, and are essential for plants to acquire important nutrients like phosphorus that are otherwise inaccessible to the fungus’ above-ground counterpart.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of fungi characteristics and what their function is!


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