Fruit Body Structure & Mushroom Lifecycle
The drawing on the right shows a mushroom fruit body possessing most of the features you will find on a mushroom growing in the wild. However, not all mushrooms have all
The cap: Can be shaped differently depending on the species and the stage of growth. It can be conical, flat or even spherical. The surface can be smooth, hairy or carry scab like fragments which are usually remnants of a universal veil if one was present.
The Gills: Usually present on the lower surface of the cap and composed of many thin layers stacked side by side. Some mushrooms will have pores instead of gills. These are tiny tubes packed closely together forming a sponge layer. Or the underside of the cap maybe smooth, wrinkled or veined. Whichever form it takes, this is where the spores are produced.
The stem: Some mushrooms do not have a stem. The one in the above diagram has a ring or skirt below the cap, this is all that remains of the protective cover for the gills called a veil, which protects the gills when young. As the cap expands or grows, the veil ruptures leaving the skirt like ring on the stem. This can be very obvious in some species and barely visible in others. There is another type of veil occurring in some species called a universal veil. This covers the whole mushroom as it emerges from the ground, and as it grows, the veil breaks leaving behind the Volva or cup seen in the above diagram. Remnants of this type of veil can also been seem on the upper surface of the cap in some species.
This diagram represents one of the more complex structures. Mushrooms with all the above features belong to the famous Amanita group which includes the most famous and probably the most photographed and illustrated mushroom the fly Agaric.
Variations on the above structure are numerous, the veils can be absent or higher or lower on the stem, it could be obvious or very hard to see, tough or cobweby....etc.
Well, this is it!!
The mushroom life cycle simplified. It all starts when the spores are released from the gills, (or whichever surface the mushroom happens to carry spores on). Millions of spores are released into the elements, (air, water, animals..) these spores are dispersed by various methods, (depending on the kind of mushroom). When the conditions are right, the spores germinate sending out tiny threads called hyphae (single: hypha). In order for the hyphae to develop and eventually produce a mushroom it has to find other hyphae that are compatible. When two compatible hyphae meet, they fuse together to form a network or threads called a mycelium. This mycelium eventually forms what is known as a hyphal knot which grows and develops into a pinhead which in turn grows and develops into a mushroom and then it all starts again.
31 Jan 2007