This activity is an introduction to fungi which
are organisms that lack the green colouring matter, chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll and sunlight are needed for plants
to carry out photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants produce
Fungi cannot make their food as green plants do,
so they have to absorb their nutrients from living organisms or from the dead remains of
plants and animals. Consequently, fungi are not classified as plants.
This activity shows the vast variety of fungi by
observing the fruiting body, the reproductive structure which is most commonly seen as the
mushroom or toadstool.
Particular mushrooms and
toadstools are often associated with particular habitats. This is not a coincidence,
it is a matter of nutrition. Species grow where they can obtain their special food
requirements. As a result, some species are always found with certain types of plant
e.g. the Larch Bolete with larch trees and the Fly Agaric with birch trees. This is
because the fungi form an association with the plant roots, which benefits both partners.
The fungus obtains some nutrients from the plant, while the plant also gains access to
other nutrients provided by the fungus.The vast network of fungal hyphae means that the
fungus obtains nutrients over a very much wider area than that covered by the plant roots
Find a mushroom or toadstool type of fungus.
After careful observation, draw it and label the following parts (example).
1) The gills or pores
2) The ring 3) The stem 4) The volva 5) The mycelium
Gills or Pores
Note that your specimen may not
have all the above characteristics. The mycelium is made up of threadlike hypha
which is the actual fungus organism. The toadstools or mushrooms commonly seen above
ground are just the fruiting bodies or reproductive parts of the fungus.
While fungus hunting, you may even find the
thick black threads of Honey Fungus beneath the bark of dead or dying trees. These
black threads are where very many hyphae have joined together to form rhizomorphs.