What is a Mushroom?
1. Mushrooms are an umbrella-shaped fungi that have two main parts: the mycelium and the fruiting body The mycelium grows beneath the surface of the soil. The umbrella-like top, or fruiting body, grows on a stalk from the mycelium. There are over 3,000 species of mushrooms throughout the world. Unlike green plants, mushrooms have no chlorophyll to make food, and instead survive primarily by absorbing food from decaying or living plants in their surroundings. They commonly grow in grassy or wooded areas. Mushrooms vary vastly in both shape and size: Some can be very small, and others can get over a foot tall. Some mushrooms are edible, and others are extremely poisonous.
Parts of a Mushroom
2. The mushroom's mycelium grows below the stem and is beneath the surface of the soil as it absorbs food. The mycelium can live and grow for many years. The fruiting body, or top part of the mushroom, lasts for only a few days. Its purpose is to produce small reproductive cells called spores. It is from the spores that new mushrooms grow.
3. The mature mushroom releases hundreds of millions of spores that are carried along on the air current. After they release their spores, the fruiting body dies. A spore will need to land in an environment that has moisture and food in order to survive. When it lands at such a place, it sends out threadlike filaments called hyphae. These hyphae move outward and produce a mycelium. The mushroom continues to develop until a button forms on the mycelium, which develops a cap and stalk and becomes the mushroom.
By Ann Johnson.