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The Biosphere Community

Kingdom Fungi

The Astonishing Beauty of Fungi
Characteristics of Fungi
Ecological Roles of Fungi
The Many Shapes of Mushrooms
The Many Shapes of Shelf or Bracket Fungi
The Many Shapes of Cups, Corals, Jellies and Clubs
The Big and The Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fungi are the life forms that people often despise. Molds attack our bread, wilts attack our tomatoes. A few fungi, such as the yeast Candida, infect people. And some fungi feel slimy. So what's to like?

Without symbiotic fungi, trees and other plants cannot thrive. Terrestrial animals would all die without plant food that thrives.

Without fungal decomposers, Earth would be covered with dead organisms that could not release their nutrients into the biosphere. All young lives would starve. In fact, no life except microbes could survive without the fungi.

There is more to say about fungi,below, but first take a look at the beauty many fungi offer.

Note: this page is not intended to introduce mycology as a science. Rather it intends to persuade the viewer to an enlarged perception of fungi and the many kinds and forms this kingdom includes.

The Astonishing Beauty of Fungi
click to enlarge

Small Elizabethan mushrooms and watching friar
photo credit John Caddy

An otherwordly mushroom is watching you. It's Mycena interrupta!
A drop of water has slid over its cap and trapped two bubbles. Surface tension rules.
Steve Axford took the photo and named it Alien. Go to his website.

blue mushroom from New Zealand
photo credit Bronwyn Dee
probably Phlebia radiata, fungal mass on birch
Photo credit John Caddy
Grizette mushroom being born
Photo credit John Caddy
Lenzites betulina, a shelf fungus, on deadwood
Photo credit John Caddy
Microporus goblets, Australia
photo credit Peter Kuttner. Go to his website
Tramites versicolor, turkeytail shelf
Photo credit John Caddy

Amanita muscaria, Fly Agaric Mushroom
Photo credit John Caddy

Maiden's Veil Stinkhorn, Australia
Photo credit Glen Threlfo
unknown fluted mushroom, Fern Canyon, CA
Photo credit John Caddy
Crepitodus applanatus mushroom on rotwood
Photo credit John Caddy
Coprinus comatus, Shaggy Mane Mushroom
Photo credit John Caddy
unknown trumpet, Sauk River, Washington
Photo credit John Caddy
Hygrocybe cheelii of Tasmania
Image credit Steve Axford. Go to his website

Laetiporus sulphureus, chicken of the woods
image credit John Caddy
earthstar on cinder cone, Sunset Crater, San Francisco Peaks, Arizona
Image credit John Caddy
Woodland purple mushroom
Image credit John Caddy
Lycoperdon pulcherrimum, Gem Studded Puffball
Image credit John Caddy
Cymatoderma elegans fungus, Australia
photo credit Peter Kuttner. Go to his website
Sarcoscypha coccinea, crimson cup
photo credit John Caddy

 

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Characteristics of Fungi

All fungi are Eucaryotes, their cells have a nucleus.
Many cells may have several nuclei.

Fungi are almost all multicellular, except for yeasts, which are single-celled.
Many fungi are are both microscopic and macroscopic.
Fruiting bodies like mushrooms are visible, hyphae usually not.

Multicellular fungi grow hyphae (singular: hypha)
which is their basic structure.

Hyphae are microscopic tubes that can grow toward rapidly toward food, up to 1 cm./day. Some hyphae make nooses to trap tiny roundworms. Some use sticky nets of hyphae to trap tiny prey.
The combined hyphal mass of a fungus is called a mycellium. See image below
Mushrooms are masses of hyphae.
Armillaria rhizomorphs are bootlace-like or root-like masses of hyphae. See image below

mycellium under mushroom
hyphae of soil fungus (enlarged)
mycellium in rotted log
Armillaria 'bootlace' rhizomorphs
under bark of dead tree
mycellium on dead oak leaf
Armillaria rhizomorphs
from soil next to log
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Ecological Roles of Fungi

Fungi play essential roles in Earth's ecology, in every ecosystem.

Most Fungi are decomposers, or saprophytes, organisms that live off decaying organic matter
Decay is the disassembly/decomposing process that restores nutrients to forms that are available to feed other living beings.
 

Fungi, along with bacteria, are the great recyclers of nutrients.

Many fungi live in symbiotic partnerships

for symbiosis with plants, go to Mycorrhiza
for symbiosis with algae and cyanobacteria, go to Lichens
for symbiosis with insects, go to Ants and go to Termites

 

Mycorrhiza fungi expand pine roots
Lichens partner with algae and cyanobacteria.
They give forests nitrogen
Ants cut leaves to feed
the fungus they farm

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The Many Shapes of Mushrooms


Mushrooms with Gills

spores develop in gills

tightly spaced gills
image credit John Caddy
widely spaced gills being eaten by thrips
image credit John Caddy
Grisettes playing Goldilocks and Three Bears
image credit John Caddy
Chanterelle look-alike with gills extending down stem, probably Omphalotus illudens
image credit John Caddy
parasol mushroom in coastal rainforest,Oregon
unknown mushroom begins brown, opens gray
Lepiota(?) weeping in compost bin
image credit John Caddy
Coprinus picaceus, Magpie Ink Cap
image credit John Caddy
flamulina velutipes, velvet foot, on oak
image credit John Caddy
Grisette, Amanita vaginata, with pleated border
image credit John Caddy
Mycena mushrooms collapsing
image credit John Caddy
possibly tiny Xeromphalina campanella
image credit John Caddy
Hygrocybe species (waxy cap)
image credit John Caddy
detail Parasola lawn mushroom
image credit John Caddy
unknown mushroom in muskeg bog
image credit John Caddy
Russula emetica, nibbled
image credit John Caddy
probably Pleutotus dryinus, umbrella for spores
image credit John Caddy
clustered domes, Fern Canyon, CA
image credit John Caddy
Auriscalpium vulgare, toothed mushroom
image credit Bernd Glewa
five Coprinopsis atramentaria, inky cap
Image credit John Caddy

Boletes, without gills
Spores develop in long tubes. The tube ends look like pores.

Tube ends of a Suillus bolete
image credit John Caddy
Tube ends on Leccinum bolete underside
image credit John Caddy
Tylopilus felleus, bitter bolete, on log
image credit John Caddy
Bolete on soil
image credit John Caddy

Aspen Scaber Stalk, Leccinum insigne, on soil
image credit John Caddy
White Pine Bolete, aka Slippery Jack,
Suillus americanus, on soil
image credit John Caddy

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The Many Shapes of Shelf or Bracket Fungi
click to enlarge



detail, Phaeolus schweinitzii on log
image credit John Caddy
Birch polypore
image credit John Caddy
chicken of the woods
image credit John Caddy
pore surface beneath shelf on oak
image credit John Caddy
old Phaeolus schweinitzii on log
image credit John Caddy
white shelf on birch log--find the spider?
image credit John Caddy

Artist's Conk, Ganoderma applanattum
image credit John Caddy
Shelf fungus with toothy grimace
image credit John Caddy
Artist's Conk, Ganoderma applanattum
image credit John Caddy
Hericium americanum, Bear Head toothed fungus
image credit JC Jacobs
Fungal Guffaw
image credit John Caddy
White-spored Chicken of the Woods,
Laetiporus cincinnatus

image credit John Caddy
Trametes? funnel on oak
image credit John Caddy

Trametes versicolor, turkey tail fungus
image credit John Caddy
Ganoderma tsugae, Hemlock Varnish Shelf
image credit John Caddy
orange toothed shelf fungus
image credit John Caddy
fuzzy smiles on alder
image credit John Caddy
Trichaptum biforme, fuzzy shelf
image credit John Caddy

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The Many Shapes of Cups, Corals, Jellies and Clubs
click to enlarge

 

Ramaria formosa, coral fungus
image credit John Caddy
Mutinus sp. Devil's Dipstick Stinkhorn
Clavaria fumosa, coral fungus
image credit Notts Fungi Group
Clathrus ruber, latticed stnkhorn
image credit Josef Hlasek
Otidea leporina fungus on soil
image credit John Caddy
Bird's Nest cup fungus on soil

White Cup fungus on wood
image credit John Caddy
Bisporella citrina, Orange cup on wood
image credit John Caddy
Sarcoscypha coccinnea, crimson elf cup

Scutellinia scutellata, eyelash cup
Image credit David Work
Ruffled Paper fungus, Probably Podoscypha petalodes, Australia Image credit Tony Wills
Dictyophora indusiata, Maiden's Veil Stinkhorn,
Image credit Albert
Xylobolus frustulatus, Ceramic Fungus
image credit John Caddy
Xylaria polymorpha, Dead Man's Fingers
Image credit John Caddy

Ascocoryne cylichnium, Jelly in old railroad tie
image credit John Caddy
Pachyella Jelly, possibly clypeata
image credit John Caddy
Tremella mesenterica, Witch's Butter
image credit John Caddy
Exidia recisa jelly on oak twig
image credit John Caddy
Anemone Stinkhorn sets out smelly bait
image credit Peter Kuttner
Go to his website biodiversity.com.au

anemone stinkhorn with flies feasting on spores
image credit Peter Kuttner
Go to his website biodiversity.com.au


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The Big and The Small
click to enlarge

 

unknown pillowy fungus, app.24" wide, on ponderosa pine, King's Creek, Mt. Lassen, CA
Image credit John Caddy
Marasmius graminum on dead grass stems
Image credit David Fischer
Bondarzewia berkeleyi, huge Berkeley's polypore
image credit americanmushrooms.com
mini Agaric, paper match for scale
image credit David Fischer
Calbovista subsculpta, 12 inch faceted puffballs
at 7,000', Mount Shasta, CA
Image credit John Caddy
Marasmius sp. on oak leaf, acorn for scale
image credit E. Grosh
gigantic mushroom
Giant Puffball, Calvatia gigantea, quarter for scale
image credit Tim Volk
Marasmius capillaris on dead leaf
Tiny earthstar, paper match for scale
Image credit Paula DeSanto
Armillaria ostoyae rhizomorphs, part of world's largest organism, 2,200 acres in Oregon,
filled with these rootlike cords.
Image credit John Caddy
mini mushrooms on quarter, in palm for scale

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Explore Further in Biosphere

 


 
Biosphere: Introduction
 
Biosphere as Place: Introduction
 
Biosphere as Ocean: Life Zones
 
Biosphere as Ocean Floor: Benthic Biomes One
 
Biosphere as Ocean Floor: Benthic Biomes Two
 
Biosphere on Land: Terrestrial Biomes
 
Biosphere on Land: Anthropogenic Biomes
 
Biosphere as Process: Introduction
 
Biosphere Process: Floating Continents, Tectonic Plates
 
Biosphere Process: Photosynthesis
 
Biosphere Process: Life Helps Make Earth's Crust
 
Biosphere Process:
Rock Cycle--Marriage of Water and Rock
 
Biosphere Process: Marriage of Wind and Water
   
Biosphere Process: Gas Exchange
 
Biosphere as An Expression of Spirit
 
The Ecological Function of Art
 
The Earth Goddess
 
The Tree of Life
 
The Green Man
 
Earth Art
 
Biosphere as Community
 
Biosphere Microcosm: Bacteria and Archaea
The Procaryote Domain
 
Biosphere Microcosm: Germs
 
Biosphere Community: The Eucaryote Domain
 
Biosphere Community: Protists 1: Algae
 
  Biosphere Community: Protists 2: Protozoa
 
Biosphere Community: Plants: What's New?
 
Biosphere Community:Plant Diversity--Major Groups
 
Biosphere Community: Plant Defense
 
Biosphere Community: Plant Pollination
   
Biosphere Community: Plant Seed Dispersal
 
Biosphere Community: Kingdom Animals
 
Biosphere Community: Kingdom Fungi
 
Biosphere Community: Six Great Extinctions
 
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