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Farm Enterprises :: Mushroom


A mushroom is described as the “fruiting body of a fungus plant that typically appears above the ground and contains spores”. It is this fleshy bracket (fruiting body) that is commonly eaten and which reproduces by dispersing spores in the same way that other plants disperse seeds. Instead of drawing nutrients through the roots, fungi are sustained by a network of fine, microscopic threads known collectively as the “mycelium”. This network can extend over vast distances, implanting into rotting wood, soil, or other preferred medium.

Fungi are more akin to molds and yeasts than to vegetable plants. Although mushrooms are technically part of the plant kingdom, they are very different organisms since they do not contain chlorophyll or have a root system. Mushrooms must also rely on organic material for their nutrition and do so in three ways:

  • as saprophytes (living on dead wood or dead tissue of living trees or dung)
  • as parasites (attacking living plant or animal tissue), or
  • as mycorrhizae (having a symbiotic relationship with plants).

To separate some of the confusion as to what is a simple fungus and what is a mushroom, scientists now generally use the term 'mushroom' to encompass fungi of either the order Agaricales or the order Boletales.


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