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Question 1: What is Mycology, and what is the difference between Mushrooms and Fungi?

Terms discussed: fleshy fungus (pl. fleshy fungi), Fungus (pl. Fungi), Mushroom (pl. Mushrooms), Mycology

Okay, this is really three questions...


Topics:
1) What is mycology?
2) What are fungi?
3) What is the difference between mushrooms and fungi?

       

1) What is Mycology



Image of Odontia from Jean Louis Émile Boudier (1904 - 1909) Icones mycologicae ou iconographie des champignons de France, principalement Discomycètes
Odontia

Mycology is the study of fungi and organisms that, like fungi,



     

2) What are fungi?


Fungi are a kingdom of organisms which share the following characteristics:




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Click on the blue links to get more information about any of these terms.
       

3) What is the difference between mushrooms and fungi?



Image of Cortinarius husseyi from A. M. Hussey (1847 - 1855) Illustrations of British mycology
Cortinarius husseyi

When mushrooms reproduce, they grow a fruiting body that protrudes from the substrate (the ground, wood, whatever they happen to be inhabiting) and produces spores. Basically, a mushroom is a fruiting body that happens to be large enough to see. If you don't collect mushrooms, you will probably think of mushrooms as fruiting bodies shaped like the "normal" mushrooms you buy in the store, but this is only a small fraction of all mushrooms.

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Image of Clavaria from Jean Louis Émile Boudier (1904 - 1909) Icones mycologicae ou iconographie des champignons de France, principalement Discomycètes
Clavaria
However, mushrooms come in all sorts of sizes, colors and shapes. If you are uncomfortable calling all of these things mushrooms, you can get scientific and use the term fleshy fungi instead.

 

 


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