I have a long interest in fungi and fungi photography. Some of them are edible and very nutritious and some of them are deadly. They range in size from microscopic yeasts and molds to giant fruiting bodies weighing many pounds. Invisible to us most of the time, they occasionally send our fruiting bodies for the world to see and to spread their spores.
|Brown Wood Mushrooms|
Fungi are their own kingdom distinct from plants, animals and bacteria but most closely related to animals. Chitin, the same material as insect exoskeletons, makes their cell walls rigid, unlike plants which use cellulose for this purpose.
Fungi require carbon compounds from living organisms for their metabolism. They actually live inside their food and grow by extending hyphae, very thin thread-like structures. An interconnected network of hyphae looks like a ball of limp yarn and is called a mycelium.
|Blue Parasol Mushrooms|
Fungi actually move, growing into new areas of food and dying off in the depleted areas. When ready to reproduce they send forth fruiting bodies to produce spores. All of the photos illustrating this post are of fruiting bodies. The mycelium are generally underground or inside wood or fruit.
|White Wood Mushroom|
|White Wood Fungi|