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Parts Of The Mushroom | Parts Of The Mushroom And Their Functions | Structure Of Mushroom

Parts Of The Mushroom | Parts Of The Mushroom And Their Functions | Structure Of Mushroom

Parts Of The Mushroom 

Organizing the Fungisphere

  • This field guide organizes mushrooms from simple and familiar to more difficult and exotic. 
  • Most foragers are familiar with morels and puffballs, either from their own foraging or as food gifts from friends, so they are listed first. 
  • There are a few pitfalls when searching for these mushrooms, and I will help you over them. Next up are the pored and toothed mushrooms that produce and disperse spores from pores, spines, or teeth; many are relatively easy to identify and rewarding culinary finds. 
  • Pores and teeth give way to an intermediate group— the chanterelles, mushrooms possessing the precursor of gills in the form of folded flesh, gill-like, but not gills. 
  • Here are some of the best-tasting fungi available on the planet. Not to be upstaged are the gilled mushrooms. 
  • This vast group with so many look-alikes requires rigorous identification and cautious respect. 
  • They are potentially the most dangerous mushrooms and some of the most beneficial. 
  • The final two chapters cover commercially available medicinal mushrooms and poisonous mushrooms. 
  • There are two main parts to a mushroom fungus; An above-ground fruiting body or sporophore and the underground mycelium.
  • Mycelium forms the underground part of the fungus that we seldom see.
  • It’s a vast, complex network of cells that form thin fibers, like plant roots, and spread under the forest floor in search of nutrients.
  • When a mushroom spore lands in a spot with ideal growing conditions, it germinates. Producing thread-like filaments called hyphae that grow, interconnect and form mycelium.
  • Extensive networks of mycelium spread over large distances underground and connect fungi to each other.
  • Mushrooms don’t have chlorophyll like plants for food production. Instead, the mycelium grows by absorbing nutrients from dead and decaying organic matter. 
  • Mycelium lives for many years and may remain dormant for several seasons until conditions are perfect for fruiting.
Parts Of Mushroom

Fruiting Body
  • The umbrella-shaped body of a mushroom that we recognize is the fruit of a much larger underground fungus. 
  • They’re called fruiting bodies or sporophores and are the fleshy, sometimes edible, part of the fungus. 
  • The fruiting body usually grows above the ground or on the surface of a host. Its purpose is to produce and distribute spores so the fungus can reproduce.
Parts Of The Mushroom
Fruiting Body

  • The cap of the mushroom is the topmost part and gives the fungi its umbrella-like shape. It can be flat, conical or spherical and have a wide range of textures and colors.
  • The caps’ color and texture don’t only vary by species. They also change depending on the stage of development of the mushroom.
  • The shape of the cap also changes throughout the development of the mushroom.
  • The cap contains the spore-producing surface of the mushroom, made up of gills, pores or teeth.
  • The function of the cap is to protect the spore-producing surface. It does this in the same way that an umbrella would protect you from rain or the heat of the sun.
Parts Of The Mushroom
Cap Of Mushroom

  • The gills are thin, paper-like structures layered side by side that often hang from the underside of the cap. 
  • Gills come in various colors and have distinct features, making them useful for species identification.
  • The shape of the individual gills, their color and how far apart they are from each other all play a role. 
  • How and where they attach to the stem is also important for mushroom identification.
  • Not all mushrooms have gills. Some, like porcinis, have pores. These are tiny, tightly packed tubes that resemble a sponge. 
  • Others, like lion’s mane, have teeth or needles instead of gills.
  • The function of the gills, called lamellae, is to produce and disperse billions of spores.
Parts Of The Mushroom
Gills Of Mushroom

  • Mushroom spores are microscopic, unicellular reproductive cells produced in the gills.
  • Most spores are shades of white, brown, pink or black, but there are also some mushrooms with orange, green and yellow spores.
  • Some scientists use the color, size and shape of spores to identify fungi.
  • A mushroom spore is like a seed in that it contains all the genetic material required to grow new mushrooms. 
  • At the end of the mushroom growth cycle, mushrooms release their spores. Wind, water, animals or humans then disperse them.
  • The spores need to land in a warm, moist, shaded area to germinate. 
Parts Of Mushroom
Spores Of Mushroom

  • A ring of tissue is sometimes found on a mushroom stem. It’s the remaining part of a partial veil. 
  • A partial veil is a thin piece of tissue that provides an extra layer of protection for the gills when the mushroom is young. 
  • As the mushroom matures and the cap grows, it ruptures the partial veil exposing the gills. Sometimes the remnants of the veil form a ring of tissue around the stem.
  • Rings vary considerably and may be thick and prominent or thin and cobweb-like.
  • People use the ring type, position and shape for the identification and classification of mushrooms.
Parts Of The Mushroom
Ring Of The Mushroom


  • The stem or stipe supports the cap and elevates it above the ground.
  • The function of a stem is to assist with the dispersal of the spores. In the wild, many mushrooms use the wind or animals to scatter their spores.
  • Thus, the cap and gills need to be high enough from the ground for the mushroom to effectively release its spores into the wind or onto passing animals. 
  • The size, shape and texture of the stem play a role in identifying mushrooms.
  • Some mushrooms have no stems at all. While others, like oyster mushrooms, have gills that extend down the sides of the stem.
Parts Of The Mushroom
Stem Of Mushroom

  • The volva or universal veil is a layer of tissue that protects the immature mushrooms of some species as they grow out of the ground.
  • As the mushroom matures, it breaks through the universal veil, leaving the bottom part of the veil at the base of the stalk.
  • The remnants create a cup-like shape at the stem’s base. The volva is very important when identifying mushrooms in the wild. 
  • A volva is a significant feature of mushrooms in the Amanitaceae family, many of which are very poisonous.
Parts Of The Mushroom
Volva Of Mushroom


  • The hyphae are the microscopic,thread-like filaments or tubes that interconnect and grow to form the web-like mycelium or body of a fungus.
  • The function of the hyphae is to absorb nutrients from the environment and transport them to other parts of the fungus.
Parts Of The Mushroom
Hyphae Of Mushroom

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