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Are Mushrooms Plants?

Not plants, but fungus. Mushrooms are classified under the Kingdom Fungi, whereas plants are in the Kingdom Plantae. So, how are mushrooms so different from plants? They both grow in the soil and are not animals, but that is the only similarity between the two. The color, way they obtain food and their method of reproduction are very different.

Plants are green because they contain chlorophyll, which helps them with photosynthesis, the process of turning sunlight into food. Mushrooms are not green and they contain no chlorophyll; therefore, they cannot photosynthesize. Mushrooms obtain their food by metabolizing dead or decaying organic matter, such as dead plants on the ground. Tiny filaments called hyphae absorb the nutrients from the dead matter. Mushrooms are made up of hyphae filaments and a mass of hyphae is called a mycelium. This is why you often see mushrooms growing on dead tree stumps.

Plants reproduce by making seeds, like the sunflower does. Mushrooms reproduce by producing spores. Thousands of microscopic spores are right underneath the cap, or top part, of the mushroom. They are located in the gills, which are the lines you can see underneath the cap. The stalk part of the mushroom holds all the nutrients needed to produce spores.


About the Author

Rebekah ShafferRebekah Shaffer
Rebekah Shaffer is currently a Junior at Slippery Rock University, PA. She is pursuing her B.S. in Biology, minor in Chemistry. She currently works as a microbiology lab assistant at Slippery Rock University and is a member of Beta Beta Beta Biology Honorary Society. She plans to obtain her Ph.D. in Molecular/Cellular Biology after completing her undergraduate degree.

Further Reading
Slime Molds and Fungi (Nature Close-Up)
by Elaine Pascoe, Dwight Kuhn (Illustrator)

Related Web Links
by MykoWeb

Tom Volk's Fungi
by Tom Volk

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