Select Page
Can Mushrooms Grow In Your Stomach?

Can Mushrooms Grow In Your Stomach?

If you are worried about mushrooms from your plate starting a colony once they end up in your stomach, no. They have probably been harvested some time ago, chopped and cooked, just to end up in the pool of gastric acid. Very little chances of surviving that.

You have a lot more chances of causing a lung infection from leftover spores you release into the environment after brushing the mushrooms than you are to grow some in your stomach after eating them.

This doesn’t mean that fungi can hurt your tummy at all – you can still develop a gastrointestinal fungal infection. Though in this case, it’s more about the problem arising from within.

“What about that Chinese woman who had a mushroom extracted from her stomach?”

You should take that story with a huge grain of salt. All of the publications that published that story are a bit questionable and/or known for their clickbait content. As of now, there are no credible publications or peer-reviewed papers that covered this “discovery”.

If you heard about this for the first time, the story is that a 50-year old woman in China had surgery to remove a mushroom after it grew in her stomach. The claim was that she cooked dry mushrooms that she didn’t soak first and, wait for this, didn’t chew properly. A little your-face-will-get-stuck-like-that, don’t you think?

Why should you be skeptical?

First, the above-mentioned stomach acid. Gastric acid is strong enough to dissolve metal, let alone a humble mushroom. It’s roughly the same acidity as battery acid. So, if you are in the mood for a little experiment, put a mushroom in some battery acid, and see what happens.

The same thing goes for spores. As they are a lot smaller and more fragile than a fully grown mushroom, they are even less likely to survive a gastric acid bath.

Finally, edible mushrooms are not really known for their messianic qualities, and are very unlikely to come back to life after they were harvested, dried, cooked, and eaten.

What about stomach fungal infections?

Yes, but it will not come from edible mushrooms. One of the infections can come from Candida overgrowth. This yeast usually peacefully coexist with us in our bodies but can cause major issues if there’s too much of it.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal fungal infections

The most common symptoms can be confused for a run of the mill stomach bug. There’s abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting, but also fever, melena, hemorrhage, and sudden chills. You may experience some changes to your skin and nails (though topical candida infections are a thing, they are always connected to what’s going on inside your body.

If you suffer from regular sinus and/or urinary infections, you should get tested as well. Testing is done on several different bodily fluids, with urine and a blood test being the most common ones.

Treating gastrointestinal fungal infections

In the US, the treatment includes oral medication like nystatin or amphotericin B. The treatment for minor infections lasts about 2 weeks on average, and you’re cleared once the fungus can’t be detected in your bloodstream anymore. More serious ones can take months or longer.

The exact medication (or cocktail) will depend not only on the severity of the infection but also on the patient’s age, immune status, and prior medical history.

Preventing gastrointestinal fungal infections

People who are at a higher risk are the ones who recently had to go through serious medical interventions, those with diabetes, are immunocompromised or have suffered kidney failure, those who have other digestive system issues, and pre-term babies.

In those cases, the smartest thing to do is to be a safe patient.Your doctor should also add anti-fungal medication to your regular therapy.

Other than that, wash your hands properly.

mushroom spores

Yeast allergy and intolerance

Yeast allergy is the most common form of mushroom allergy. Fun fact, baking powder was invented because by Alfred Bird because his wife had a yeast allergy (she was also allergic to eggs, and that’s why he invented powdered custard as well).

Yeast allergy has very similar symptoms as celiac disease or lactose intolerance. It will result in bloating, gas, diarrhea, and general stomach discomfort. There is also a high possibility of a skin rash. And you will know you have it if you experience these symptoms every time you drink beer, eat bread, moldy cheese, Marmite, etc.

Most sufferers develop a mild form of this type of allergy, but sometimes it can get severe enough and require an EPI pen.

mushroom spores
What Kingdom Do Fungi Belong To?

What Kingdom Do Fungi Belong To?

Fungi have been accepted as a separate kingdom. Although some of the popular fungi have a plant-shaped or more specifically a tree-shaped structure, it is well accepted that fungi are not plants or animals. They are in a Kingdom all of their own.

Fungi neither prepare their food nor perform photosynthesis. So, fungi are effectively not plants. But fungi are not animals either. Why? One striking reason is that fungi have a cell structure that resembles plants more than animals, even though they are in a kingdom all of their own.

Animal cells don’t have cell walls. Instead, their cells have an outer layer of membrane that is pregnable. Plant and fungal cells have cell walls made of chitins which give these living beings their stiff and rigid structure.

Fungi don’t make their food internally but receive it from external sources. Animals also don’t make their food but receive it in much the same way. This is an important piece of similarity between fungi and animals. Fungi digest their food externally while animals consume the food and digest it internally. Fungi use their hormones to prepare the food which is decomposing the organic matter they are supposed to eat. After decomposing the food, fungi absorb the nutrients.

Most animals are mobile while most of the fungi are not. Fungi remain rooted in the same place while animals make movements in search of food. There are some examples of animals that are not as mobile as the rest. Coral reefs are an example of animals that resemble plants and grow from a stationary position.

Mushrooms have chitins in their cells which help them form the stiff outside walls such as those on coral reefs and lobsters even though to a much lesser degree. Similarly, there are a few fungi that are somewhat mobile. Water molds are one of those few fungi that can travel so to speak.

When it comes to sexual reproduction, fungi have more similarities with plants than animals. Fungi give birth to an outshoot through their pores same as plants do.

With these differences in front of us, we can easily conclude that fungi are neither animals nor plants. Fungi are a separate class of living things. Their basic characteristics are different from both animals and plants. Though some fungi are edible and some others are useful in some way or the other, many types of fungi are simply geared up to infecting plants and animals with diseases, spoiling foods, and set off decay on the surfaces that they grow.


Several important antibiotic medicines in the market are derived from fungi. Some of these medicines are so indispensable that you can’t imagine life without them. This opens up the chapter of the systematic use of fungi as a source of antibiotic medicines.

While the debate continues whether fungi are animals or plants or none of them, fungi have developed mutually beneficial relationships with both plants and animals. Humans benefit a great deal from edible fungi such as mushrooms, yeast, and antibiotics. Similarly, plants benefit a great deal from the presence of fungus webs in their root systems. Without these friendly fungi, 90% of plants and grass would simply die.


What separates animals from plants?

Animals and plants are living things and they have many similarities. But they also have significant differences that make them separate kingdoms. Animals can move around while plants remain rooted in one place. Animals consume food while plants use sunlight for energy. Animals move around and search for their food while plants create their food by a process called photosynthesis. Both animals and plants have cells that carry their DNA. But the structure of the cells is different. Animal cells receive nutrients by absorbing it from food while plant cells use plastids to create their food and energy.

Both animals and plants are made of cells which are the smallest functional units that together constitute every part of the body in a living organism. There are similarities but also significant differences between animal and plant cells.

Plant cells have cell walls that are stiff while animal cells’ outer layer is made of a thin layer of the permeable membrane. The plant cell walls are stiff due to the presence of chitins that give the plants the hardness and upright structure while the porous animal cell membrane allows animal cells to absorb outside substances.

The cells have their structure and parts, too, called organelles. In some cases, animal cells have protrusions called cilia that help the movement of the cells. Plant cells don’t have cilia but they have plastids – a kind of pigment that helps photosynthesis.

Animals have senses. Humans, for example, have 5 senses – touch, taste, sight, scent, and hearing. Although plants have senses they don’t have eyes, nose, skin, ears, and tongues.

Plants use sensory ions and hormones to sense their environment. Plants have a way to sense light as it is an important source of energy for them. Over time, plants seek out the sunlight by slowly moving and leaning towards it. Some plants open their leaves’ pores in the day to take in the sunlight and close them in the night to ensure the moisture does not escape away.

Animals have a complex central nervous system that helps them process different signals into senses. Animals with a spinal cord and a brain are called vertebrates and they have highly developed senses such as those of humans.


What do animals and fungi have in common?

Fungi’s cells have a cell wall and it is made of chitin. Animals like coral reefs use chitin to form hard shells. That’s why they are called an exoskeleton. Animals eat and digest their food internally and fungi take in the nutrients from their food digested externally. Both are heterotrophs — organisms that can’t make their food. Fungi take in their food like animals, rather than the plants that use photosynthesis for their food and energy. Both fungal and animal cells contain centrioles. They play an important role in mitosis or cell division. Some fungi are motile, for example, water molds. Both animals and fungi store carbohydrates as a food called glycogen. This is a characteristic most animals have. Fungi are considered more similar to animals than plants. The fungus is in Latin means mushroom.

Do fungi have more in common with plants or animals?

Although the fungus is now classified as a distinct kingdom separate from animals and plants, it has similarities to both. For a long time, the fungus was considered a plant because of its plant-like shape, rigid structure, and root-like structures. They commonly grow on soil or dead wood. But now, they are considered more similar to animals than plants. This is because both fungi and animals do not use photosynthesis to prepare their food. The cell structure of fungi is also more similar to animals than that of plants. Both have stiff outer walls in their cells, something that gives them their structure and hardness of the surface. Chitin found in the fungi cells is also found in some animal cells such as lobsters and coral reefs.

The fungus is similar to both animals and plants as all of them have eukaryotic cells that are capable of carrying genetic material. All of these living beings have DNA stored in the nucleus of the cells. Both plants and fungi have organelles in their cells. Both plants and fungi usually don’t move.

What are the 5 groups of fungi?

The fungus is a separate kingdom unrelated to both animals and plants but has similarities to both. There are 5 major groups of fungus. The group is called phylum (singular) and phyla (plural). The phyla are based on the way fungus engages in sexual reproduction.

The five fungus phyla are Chytridiomycota (Chytrids), Basidiomycota (club fungi), Ascomycota (sac fungi), Zygomycota (conjugated fungi), and Phylum Glomeromycota. There is one more type of fungus and it is called Deuteromycota. This is an informal group of fungi that use asexual reproduction.

Winter Worm-Zombie Fungus-Himalayan Gold-Viagra-Keeda Jadi-Yarsagumba-Cordyceps-Sinensis-Worm-Caterpillar Fungus


The only type of Phylum Chytridiomycota is Chytridiomycetes or chytrids. This is the most primitive and the simplest type of fungi also called true fungi (Eumycota). The first chytrids came into being about 500 million years ago. While chytrids had chitin in the cell walls, some varieties had both chitin and cellulose. Chytrids are mostly unicellular but a few of them could be multicellular hyphae or even organisms. The chytrids’ cell structure and ecological habitat have a lot of similarities to those of protists. While chytrids can be found on land, it is mostly an aquatic fungus. Some chytrids may be found on plants, amphibians, and insects.


Zygomycota is a conjugated fungus. Phylum Zygomycota fungus has a small group of fungus called zygomycetes. This kind of fungus is commonly found on the surface of fruits, vegetables, and bread. It grows and spreads very quickly. Most of the zygomycetes thrive on decaying organic substances. Some are even parasites of insects. Zygomycetes are commercially produced and sold as metabolic products in synthetic steroids.


Ascomycota is also called Sac Fungi. Most of the known fungi are Phylum Ascomycota. This kind of fungus is characterized by a sac-like formation. Several ascomycetes are used commercially. For example, yeasts are used in brewing, baking, and fermentation of wine. Truffles and morels are gourmet delicacies. Fungus Aspergillus oryzae is widely used for the fermentation of rice to make sake. Many ascomycetes live off animals including humans and plants as parasites. Fungal pneumonia is known to hit AIDS patients whose immune system is weakened. Ascomycetes infest and destroy standing crops.


Basidiomycota is also called The Club Fungi. The Fungi belonging to Phylum Basidiomycota have a peculiar club shape that can be seen and recognized under a microscope. These club-shaped bodies are called basidia and they are reproductive organs. They are often present on the common mushroom seen in the fields or on the shelves of the supermarket. These mushrooms are sometimes called “gill fungi” as there is a gill-like structure under the mushroom’s cap. Most edible fungi come from Phylum Basidiomycota. But care should be taken as some basidiomycetes are known for producing deadly toxins. In particular, Cryptococcus neoformans are associated with severe respiratory illness.



Glomeromycota is a new phylum and it has about 230 species under it. All these fungi species live closely at the roots of the trees. These fungi share a long evolutionary history as symbionts of the trees’ roots. The hyphae form a mutually beneficial association and interact with the trees’ root cells. The roots supply carbon and carbohydrates for the fungus to survive while the fungi work with the soil and supply essential minerals to the plant.

Glomeromycetes can’t survive without plant roots and do not reproduce sexually. About 90% of plants have this kind of mutually beneficial interaction with fungi. These fungi have large web-like spreads underground and many times these webs connect the roots of many trees. This helps plants to communicate and send each other signals and nutrients to each other. Sometimes, a plant may send toxic substances to a competing plant.

What are the beneficial functions of fungi in nature?

Fungi perform many important roles in the overall scheme of nature. They are one of the most active decomposers found in nature. They decompose complex compounds such as lignin and cellulose in plant debris. Fungi play a very important part in recycling nutrients. They can penetrate spores and solid substrates. They have developed mutually beneficial relationships with a wide array of organisms. Fungi are parasites that can penetrate host organisms.

why mushrooms are not plants of animals

How do fungi benefit humans?

Fungi offer a wide range of products used by humans. These products include food, alcohol, antibiotics, organic acids, growth-promoting substances, amino acids, and enzymes. Fungi also give us beneficial microorganisms like yeasts and mushrooms. They live off dead or living plants or animals. They help decompose dead plants and animals. They are the primary decomposer of organic substances in the biosphere. They are a powerful decomposer of organic waste and attack complex substances such as cellulose, gums, lignins readily, and vigorously.

Fungi can do their work both in acidic and alkaline soils. They can play their basic role in many different physiological processes. They can help and enhance the plants’ flexibility to assess and cope with ecological stress like heat, cold, drought, salinity, and metals.

Fungi are often considered a cause of diseases and spoiling of food. But they help human life in many ways. Fungi play an important role in the nutrient cycle and are responsible for the well being of human beings. They are animal pathogens that prevent the growth of damaging pests. The fungi attack insects in a very specific manner and in doing so they don’t infect plants and animals. Fungi are being considered to be used as microbial insecticides, with some products already hitting the market.

The mutually beneficial relationship that fungi have with plant roots is very essential for agricultural productivity. If the fungi don’t support the root system, up to 90% of trees and grasses will die away. Mycorrhizal fungal inoculants are being supplied by gardening stores as soil amendments. This is also being promoted by the supporters of organic farming.

Some types of fungi such as mushrooms are very popular as human food. Other fungi such as morels, shiitake mushrooms, truffles, and chanterelles are considered delicacies. Agaricus campestris or the meadow mushroom forms part of many dishes. Genus Penicillium molds play an important role in the ripening of many kinds of cheese.

Fungi also help in the fermentation of beers and wines that are made from grains and fruits respectively. This kind of fermentation is performed by using wild yeast from the environment. The process involves fermentation of sugar into ethyl alcohol and CO2 under an oxygen-less (anaerobic) environment

Now, commercially-produced wild yeast strains are available. Saccharomyces cerevisiae or the strain of brewer’s yeast was developed by Louis Pasteur in the late 1850s for the French brewing industry. This was perhaps one of the earliest examples of biotechnology.

why mushrooms are not animals or plants

Many types of antibiotics have been isolated from fungi for use as medicine. These secondary metabolites are now commercially produced and marketed as antibiotics. Fungi naturally produce antibiotics to limit their competition from bacteria. The antibiotics produced by fungi work in the same way as popular antibiotic medicines. They kill and prevent the growth of bacteria. There are many fungi-derived antibiotics that work as great highly useful medicines.

Since fungi cells are similar to human cells as they all belong to eukaryotic cells, fungi have been a key component of research in genome and genetics. For this reason, yeast is good for research in DNA technology as its cell structure and human cell structure have many similarities.

Final thoughts

Fungi are neither plant nor animal. They have characteristics that can be categorized either as those of animals or plants. They are a different class of living things, a separate kingdom. The smallest fungi cannot be seen from bare eyes. You need a microscope to see such fungi while the largest fungus may extend many miles.

The fungus is a diverse kingdom with at least 5 broad categories. Nearly, all fungi live as parasites on dead and live plants and animals. Fungi are the primary decomposers in the ecosystem. It attacks complex substances such as cellulose that are found in large amounts in plant debris. They are the chief agents of recycling nutrients in all terrestrial habitats. Their similarities to plants or animals are only incidental. Fungi are decisively a different category of living things vast and diverse enough to be called a separate fungal kingdom.

Why Are Fungi Not Classified As Plants?

Why Are Fungi Not Classified As Plants?

Outside of a handful of similarities, fungi are biologically very different from plants. They don’t create their food, don’t occupy the same part of the food chain, their cell walls are made from different materials, and even if they may look similar, they consist of different “body parts”.

To add to that, their only common ancestor is the same one they share with animals as well.

How did the misclassification happen?

Early observers saw them growing the same way as plants, and that was it. As the scientific methods developed and we got to study the world on a molecular level, we managed to learn more about it.

For example, renowned paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould discovered that there is no such thing as fish. Everything that swims is far more biologically related to animals on land that they are related to each other.

In the same way, scientists took a closer look at fungi and saw that they have very little in common with plants.


Even though they are not plants, their names are still governed by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. Yes, that means that mushrooms are still named in the same way as other plants.

But, beyond their “botanical names”, most of the other terminology comes from the animal kingdom.

What separates fungi from plants?

Though they don’t look much different from each other, scratch the surface and there you’ll find the truth. Here are the main 8 differences between plants and fungi.

Different cell wall components

Plant cell walls contain cellulose, while fungi are composed out of a substance called chitin.

Chitin is a large polysaccharide that can be found in insects, fish, invertebrates, and of course fungi. It’s made from modified glucose and is rather versatile – it can produce anything from delicate insect wings to tough shells in crustaceans.

In fungi, citing creates a rigid cell wall that allows the organism to keep its shape. This is one of the reasons why mushrooms can push through layers of other plants as they grow.

To chlorophil or not to chlorophil

Not to chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is a green pigment that exists in plants, algae, and some types of bacteria, but not in fungi. It’s responsible for the color of the plants, but also helps absorb light for photosynthesis.

It would not be far off to say that it’s the reason why life on Earth is possible. However, there is not even a smidgen of it in fungi.

<h2>What separates fungi from plants?</p>
<h2>  Though they don't look much different from each other, scratch the surface and there you'll find the truth. Here are the main 8 differences between plants and fungi.    </p>
<h3>Different cell wall components</p>
<h3>  Plant cell walls contain cellulose, while fungi are composed out of a substance called chitin.  Chitin is a large polysaccharide that can be found in insects, fish, invertebrates, and of course fungi. It's made from modified glucose and is rather versatile - it can produce anything from delicate insect wings to tough shells in crustaceans.  In fungi, citing creates a rigid cell wall that allows the organism to keep its shape. This is one of the reasons why mushrooms can push through layers of other plants as they grow.    </p>
<h3>To chlorophil or not to chlorophil</p>
<h3>  Not to chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll is a green pigment that exists in plants, algae, and some types of bacteria, but not in fungi. It's responsible for the color of the plants, but also helps absorb light for photosynthesis.  It would not be far off to say that it's the reason why life on Earth is possible. However, there is not even a smidgen of it in fungi.


Fungi digest their food, while plants don’t.

They don’t do it in the same way as animals, though – as in, consume it and then process it within a digestive system. Fungi release enzymes that pre-digest the food, after which they “absorb” it.

As such, their eating habits are quite in between both plants and animals.

Roots, stems, and leaves

Fungi don’t have any.

Though you may have heard them being called mushrooms stems before, they are actually something named stipes. Depending on the type of mushroom, they may look like stems or stalk, and their purpose is to support the cap. Species of fungi that have them are classed as stipitate.

They are composed of sterile hyphal tissues. Hyphae are long branches of fungus and are a main mode of growth, but n the case of the stem, they can reproduce.

When it comes to natural selection, taller stipes aid in spore dispersal. But, they are not crucial when it comes to the mushroom’s ability to reproduce

Unlike the stems of small, “ground-level” plants, stipes are an important tool in identifying the species of mushroom (as well as if it is poisonous or not).

Make or take food

Plants are autotrophic while fungi are heterotrophic. This means that plants make and fungi take their food from other sources.

Plants’ ability to create their own food is all due to photosynthesis. The Sun’s energy is the driving force behind their ability to convert water and minerals from the soil into nutrients and starches.

And as discussed, fungi digest their food first, then consume it.

<h3>  Fungi digest their food, while plants don't.  They don't do it in the same way as animals, though - as in, consume it and then process it within a digestive system. Fungi release enzymes that pre-digest the food, after which they "absorb" it.  As such, their eating habits are quite in between both plants and animals.    </p>
<h3>Roots, stems, and leaves</p>
<h3>  Fungi don't have any.  Though you may have heard them being called mushrooms stems before, they are actually something named stipes. Depending on the type of mushroom, they may look like stems or stalk, and their purpose is to support the cap. Species of fungi that have them are classed as stipitate.  They are composed of sterile hyphal tissues. Hyphae are long branches of fungus and are a main mode of growth, but n the case of the stem, they can reproduce.  When it comes to natural selection, taller stipes aid in spore dispersal. But, they are not crucial when it comes to the mushroom's ability to reproduce  Unlike the stems of small, "ground-level" plants, stipes are an important tool in identifying the species of mushroom (as well as if it is poisonous or not).    </p>
<h3>Make or take food</p>
<h3>  Plants are autotrophic while fungi are heterotrophic. This means that plants make and fungi take their food from other sources.  Plants' ability to create their own food is all due to photosynthesis. The Sun's energy is the driving force behind their ability to convert water and minerals from the soil into nutrients and starches.  And as discussed, fungi digest their food first, then consume it.

Types of reproductive cells

Fungi mostly reproduce through spores, while plants do so through seeds and pollen.

Spores are suitable for both sexual and asexual reproduction. They are dispersed into the environment and are can survive for a long time before they take root.

There are multiple types of spores, and each one of them has a unique way of how they give birth to a new organism.

Place in the food chain

There are 5 main trophic levels in the food chain, and each species finds its place based on how they consume energy. The first level is producers, while all of the others can be classified as consumers. They include herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.

Decomposers don’t belong to a specific level since they feed off all dead animal and plant material.

So, this puts plants in the first level as primary producers, while fungi are winning the food chain game by being decomposers and eating everyone.

Food storage

Both plants and fungi can store food, but the former does it as starch, while the latter does it as glycogen.

This is where fungi become more similar to animals. Even humans store glycogen in the liver – on average enough to last for around two days.

Both fungi and bacteria benefit from their ability to store energy as glycogen in environments that are low on nutrients. On the other hand, rich glycogen stores are associated with massive and rapid fungal and bacterial growth. This is where once more fungi show why they are a kingdom of their own since an animal that has to deal with excess food doesn’t start multiplying, but begins to multiply its fat deposits.

How are fungi similar to plants?

They are both eukaryotic and they don’t move.

Though the latter is pretty self-explanatory, the former refers to the type of cells the organism is composed of. The term translated from Greek means “good kernel” which in a way describes what is going on inside those cells. The nucleus is enclosed in a shell or an envelope, unlike in prokaryotic cells where the nucleus is directly embedded in the cytoplasm.

Animal cells are also eukaryotic, but they lack the same cell wall that you can find in plant and fungi cells.

To make things interesting once more, animal and fungi eukaryotic cells belong to the same group called opisthokonts, while the plants are in a completely different branch of the family.

mushrooms not animals or plants

If fungi are not plants, are they animals then?

No, even though they have a lot of things in common.

As mentioned, animal cells don’t have walls. Also, animals move around, reproduce sexually (generally), and have a very simple life cycle. Their bodies are composed of complex systems of organs, each containing vastly different types of cells and tissues.

Animals also have a fully developed nervous system and can react to external stimuli very quickly, while fungi are very slow to react and adapt.

Both life forms are heterotrophs, which means they need complex nutrition to survive, and both are capable of storing carbohydrates as glycogen for future use. However, animals ingest their food, while fungi absorb it from their host or soil.

Speaking of hosts, a lot of species of fungi are parasites and can even latch onto animals (like Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis, aka zombie ant fungus). In most cases, a parasite fungus is most likely to kill its host, but they also often form symbiotic relationships with plants.

What came first, fungi or plants?

Plants are just about 9 million years older than fungi. That’s in terms of when they started separating from animals. For any sign of a mutual ancestor, one must dig through the primordial ooze.

Some DNA evidence suggests that the common ancestor of the entire fungi kingdom may be about 600 million years old. As with all other life, it probably lived in water before it moved to conquer the land.

That move may have started about 500 million years ago, though fossil record shows them spread all over the world just a mere 100 million years later. There’s also a reason to assume that about 250 million years ago fungi were the most dominant life form on the planet considering how abundant they were at the time. Right after dinosaur extinction, there seems to also be a spike in the number of fungi in comparison to other species.

In 2019, scientists discovered a fossilized fungus in the Canadian Arctic that is assumed to be a billion years old. If their calculations are correct, that would change everything we’ve learned until now,

Do fungi need sunlight?

No. As mentioned, they don’t have chlorophyll in their cell walls and don’t engage in photosynthesis. In fact, many species of fungi thrive in shade.

Do fungi need a special environment to grow?

Unlike plants, fungi don’t have a set of specific environmental requirements that are mandatory for every species. Some prefer a moist environment, some prefer to stay dry. Some like the dark, while some thrive in the sunlight.

mushrooms not animals or plants

How do fungi reproduce?

Though we already saw that fungi reproduce both sexually and asexually with spores, let’s get into some detail of how it happens.

Asexual reproduction

This method is comparable to the way plants reproduce by planting seeds.

In short, the fungus releases the spores, they spread into the environment and seek suitable habitat. Once they settle, they germinate and form a new mycelium, aka the fungus “root”.

We place fungi in different groups based on how they store the spores (amongst other things). For example, Zygomycota (often found in soil and decaying plants and animals) have little sacs that burst to disperse the spores.

On the other hand, Ascomycota and Basidiomycota don’t have such sack and produce spores directly from the hyphae. Ascomycota fungi are the ones that are responsible for fungal infections, while a Basidiomycota is more likely to end up on your plate (edible mushrooms).

Sexual reproduction

This form of reproductions can be described as a step up from spore dispersal. In this case, the hyphae of two individual fungi join and combine in a process called plasmogamy. Then, another process called karyogamy takes place, and at this time the DNA of the two individuals mixes and combines.

Spores that come out after these processes have double the normal number of chromosomes. Then, in a (yet another) process called meiosis, new spores divide to create spores with a normal number of chromosomes.

After that, we are going back to basics – the spores disperse and settle in fitting habitat.

All species of fungi that produce sexually can also produce asexually. This includes already mentioned Zygomycota, Ascomycota, and Basidiomycota, and each produces a different spore structure.

mushrooms fungi

What are the major types of fungi?

The latest classification divides the entire fungi kingdom into 7 phyla, 10 subphyla, 35 classes, 12 subclasses, and 129 orders. When we say type, we refer to the phyla and their very recognizable differences.


The largest phylum that contains the most species of fungi. All species that belong here have a spore sack that burst once they are ready to be dispersed into the environment.

All types of yeast (the ones used in bread, beer, cheese, and medicine production) originate here, as well as several other types of mushrooms, truffles, molds, etc.


This is the phylum that includes the most recognizable fungi: mushrooms. Some of their plant-like characteristics were the reasons fungi were mistaken for plants for centuries.

However, it’s not all about the ballad of stems and caps – this group also includes multiple grain pathogens, some that attack humans, and even rust.


The fungi in this group are called chytrids and they consume keratin and chitin. Some species are parasitic, and some even attack animals. For example, this is the phylum that includes Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis that latches onto frogs and other amphibians.

They are aquatic, which means that water is their natural habitat. Also, it’s considered that this type of fungi may be one of the earliest to diverge from other kingdoms.


The members of this phylum feed off of decomposing material. They are able to consume pollen, cellulose, keratin, and chitin as well.

Most of the species in this group are parasites. The most recognizable on to us may be the Physoderma maydis, a fungus that latches onto corn and maize, and caused the brown spot disease.

However, because of their ability to consume different material, Blastocladiomycota have an important ecological role.


If the name of this type of fungi makes you think of conglomerates, you are not far off. They form these rather pretty webs that resemble something you would find in a presentation on communication and networking.

They form symbiotic relationships with their hosts. They latch onto hosts with fine root systems in rich soil that coexist with other types of fungi already. They pay their host plant back by making them better at responding to environmental stimuli and stresses while helping the other fungus to obtain carbohydrates from the host.


This phylum contains single-cell spore-forming parasites. They infect animals and protists, but when they get to humans, the infection is called microsporidiosis. The main characterization is the enlargement of the infected tissue, and any part of the body may be affected.

The diseases caused by microsporidia are rarely lethal, but may often be debilitating.

There are about 1500 species that are officially named, while it’s believed that over a million belong to this type.

mushrooms fungi


This is a small phylum of anaerobic fungi. They are often present in cellulose-rich environments – anything from the digestive systems of larger herbivores to landfills, even being found in humans. Cows, deer, and other ruminants rely on this type of fungi to digest fiber.

They were officially recognized in 1975 as fungi and, though they were discovered much earlier than that, it was originally believed they were protists – organisms that are neither animals, plants, or fungi.

Are all mushrooms edible?

As someone wise once said, yes but some you can eat only once.

All joking aside, a lot of mushrooms are seriously poisonous and other species of fungi may cause serious illnesses and even death. Assuming you are not planning to go foraging for mold, picking up random mushrooms in the wild is not the best idea ever.

Are all fungi harmful?

Not necessarily. Most are not dangerous to both the plant and animal life. It’s very similar to how not all bacteria cause serious illnesses.

Are there fungi in or on the human body?

Considering that fungi don’t always have to be portobello-size, there’s a chance that you are right now sharing your body with a fungus or two. In fact, there are even a few species that can co-exist with us without causing us major health issues. Well, if our bodies are healthy, to begin with.

For example, Malassezia is all over us and generally doesn’t trigger our immune systems. Though, it can be problematic for those with auto-immune illnesses or eczema.

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that we may have any benefits from the fungi that are not making us sick. However, it’s still a young field of research and something that we’re trying to figure out this time around.

fungi mushrooms
Do Mushrooms Grow Back After You Pick Them?

Do Mushrooms Grow Back After You Pick Them?

Mushrooms are a nutrient-rich source of food that is not off the table for vegetarians and vegans alike. As such, it is a very popular food for people who are keen to reduce the harm they do—directly or indirectly—to the environment. A large part of that harm is the sustainability of any harvesting measures since even plant and fungi-based diets can harm the environment if your food is obtained in an irresponsible manner. And a common concern among mushroom lovers is whether or not their favorite fungus will grow back after being picked.

The truth of the matter is that, if you time your picking right so that you are picking the mushroom after it has released its spores, it makes no difference to the overall organism—the mycelium—because the mushroom is on a one-way ticket to decomposition after that point regardless of what you do to it. This means that you can pick mushrooms from the same spot more than once since they will continue to grow back as long as the mycelium is healthy.

The important thing is to leave that mycelium intact. If you attempt to pull a mushroom out of the ground—roots and all—or you go stomping around the ground where the mushrooms are growing, you could very well damage the mycelium, and that will prevent the mushrooms from growing back.

Still, there is plenty of relevant information about mushroom picking we’d wager you might be interested in, so keep reading, and we’ll walk you through it all.

Do Mushrooms Die When You Pick Them?

The short answer is yes; mushrooms begin to die when you pick them. A more complicated answer would be “it depends,” and the most accurate answer is that, if you do it right, it doesn’t matter.

We touched on this above, but the reality of mushrooms is that they are only the fruiting body for the larger organism. When the mushroom mycelium is ready to fruit, it grows the recognizable mushroom caps that you know and love. Those mushrooms then shed their spores, allowing the fungus to do what evolution always strives to do—live on through future generations—and then the mushroom, having performed its task, promptly begins to die.

Now, if you pluck a mushroom from its mycelium before it has shed its spores, it will begin to die because you have picked it, and it will die having not performed that task that is its only reason for being there in the first place. This is the worst possible outcome of mushroom picking from a sustainability standpoint since you want the mushrooms to be allowed to seed.

If, on the other hand, you pick a mushroom after it has shed its spores, you are not affecting the lifecycle of the fungus at all because that mushroom will already have started to die off. It will eventually decompose, and the process will begin again the next time it the mycelium fruits. It may also not begin again, but whether or not the mushrooms grow back has nothing to do with whether or not you picked them.


How Many Harvests Can I Get From my Mushrooms?

The precise number of mushrooms you can get from your mycelium varies between different mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms, for example, may give you three growths over the course of a few weeks before they are exhausted, while other types of mushrooms may give you new fruit a few times a year.

Growing kits for specific types of mushrooms will come with all the necessary instructions for how to judge this kind of thing, but for those of you sourcing your mushrooms out in the wonderful wilds of nature, it is worth noting that as long as you harvest your mushrooms after they have completed shedding their spores, you should always find plenty of mushrooms in that area to pick, even if they are part of a different batch to the last ones you picked. This is another reason why it is essential to be mindful of the area around where you are harvesting your mushrooms.

Mycelium is often invisible, owed to the fact that it is very small and grows through the substrate—the substance it is growing in, such as soil or tree. You won’t always know there is mycelium there, but you could still be destroying it by standing on it, preventing it from producing fruit bodies at a later date. Of course, if you are growing your mushrooms artificially, the prospect of destroying ungrown mushrooms with your hiking boots is not an issue.

In some cases, the mycelium will be visible and thus easy to avoid and make a note of for future foraging. Mycelium usually resembles a light thread-like structure, a little like spider webbing or candy floss.


What Triggers Mushroom Fruiting?

To understand what triggers mushroom fruiting, it helps to remember the mycelium that they sprout from mostly grows underground. The fungal growth tends to spread until it reaches the natural boundaries of the area it is growing in. In an artificial setting, these boundaries are fairly obvious—the edges of the container that the mycelium is growing in present an unmistakable roadblock to further expansion.

In nature, these boundaries may be less obvious, and mycelium can cover remarkably large areas, but the relevant point here is that it doesn’t begin to fruit until it is above ground, and this is the second key to getting your mushrooms to fruit.

Above ground, the carbon dioxide levels are much lower due to all those helpful plants breathing it in and spitting out oxygen. This is one of the ways mycelium knows it is above ground, and another factor in it deciding to fruit. If you are growing mushrooms artificially, you might consider poking holes in the container that you are growing them in once they are ready to fruit.

Finally, the climate around them also plays a part. The precise conditions in which mushrooms start to grow will vary from mushroom to mushroom, but they generally pay attention to temperature and humidity. When growing artificially, you will need to be able to dial both of these factors in to suit the specific mushrooms you are growing when you want them to fruit.


How Long Does it Take for a Mushroom to Start Pinning?

Pinning, which is the name given to the process of the mycelium sprouting small button-like growths that will eventually go on to become mushrooms, can take a week or two to occur from the point that the mycelium believes it is time to fruit.

The pins will not necessarily grow into mushrooms straight away if the environmental conditions aren’t right, and it can take as much as three weeks to get from a pin to a fully grown mushroom. The lower levels of carbon dioxide that we mentioned above are one of the most significant factors in pinning starting to occur, with the climate around those pins—the humidity and temperature—being the thing that can push the pins to grow into full mushrooms.


Should You Cut or Pull Mushrooms?

From the point of view of the mushroom and its mycelium, it doesn’t really matter whether you cut or pull the mushroom, so long as you leave the underlying mycelium intact. For this reason, it may be preferable to cut the mushroom as that reduces the likelihood of damaging the underlying structure.

That being said, most people, when referring to “pulling” mushrooms, do not merely grab the mushroom and yank it out of the ground; they employ a twisting motion that breaks the stem of the mushroom. It is also possible, in some cases, to bend the shaft to the breaking point. The critical factor here is that you are not damaging the mycelium, which would prevent future mushroom growth.

It helps to remember that the mushroom—assuming it has already shed its spores—will be dying anyway. If you weren’t there to pick it, the mushroom would decompose and, eventually, decay back into the substrate. Any mushroom stem left behind would only be doing what the mushroom itself would be doing if you’d left it in place.

Final Thoughts

As with many things in life, there is no universal answer to whether mushrooms grow back after you pick them—it all depends on the type of mushroom and the circumstances surrounding your picking. For the most part, mushrooms do tend to grow back if you are careful not to harm the mycelium that has sprouted them, though in some cases, that mycelium can eventually die.

Being sure only to pick mushrooms after they have shed their spores will ensure that you are not doing any damage to the fungi, as well as increasing the likelihood that there will always be mushrooms to pick in that area. Remember, once the mushroom has shed its spores, it is dying anyway.

As for how you pick those mushrooms, it doesn’t really make a difference as long as you don’t damage the mycelium. Cutting or pulling is fine; go with whatever works out easiest for you.

Why Is Fungi Not an Animal?

Why Is Fungi Not an Animal?

Curious World of Fungi

Animals take in and digest food, whereas fungi digest their food externally after absorbing nutrients firsthand from the environment. Unlike animal cells, the fungal cells contain cell walls. What’s more, animals are mobile creatures, while only a few fungal cells are mobile.

What Is Fungi?

Hundreds of thousands of organisms, ranging from yeasts mildews, mushrooms, and molds to rusts, fall under kingdom fungi classification. They are among the world’s most distributed organisms. Most fungi live freely on water or soils, whereas others establish themselves through symbiotic or parasitic relationships with animals or plants.

The once viewed simply as plants, fungi emerged as their distinct taxonomic Kingdom. These diverse set of fungal species carry numerous unique properties, some non-toxic, some harmful, and others useful.

What Are The 5 Groups of Fungi?

Fungi are classified into five phyla. These include Zygomycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Chytridiomycota, and Glomeromycota. Check out the following descriptions of these various phyla.


Zygomycetes are mainly terrestrial organisms that feed off decaying animal material or plant detritus. They might cause problems if they develop on food resources. The most common example of a zygomycete is bread mold. Their hyphae are not separated by septa, making the mycelia typically one big cell with numerous nuclei. Like most fungi, they reproduce asexually via spores.


Ascomycetes are mainly pathogens of animals and plants, humans inclusive. These fungi are primarily responsible for ringworms, an athlete’s’ foot, and deadly ergotism accompanied by symptoms such as convulsions, hallucinations, and vomiting. Nevertheless, some ascomycetes reside in the human body, i.e., Candida albicans- found in either the respiratory, reproductive, or gastrointestinal tract. Like most fungi, they reproduce asexually using spores.


Typically, Basidiomycetes also referred to as club fungi, are club-shaped. A typical example is a mushroom. Most basidiomycetes will reproduce sexually. Nevertheless, others will produce spores through cells known as basidia, meaning they reproduce asexually.


Chytrids are the organisms falling under phylum Chytridiomycota. They are usually microscopic and aquatic, reproducing asexually through spores. These spores are transferred from one plant to another using tiny, tail-like appendages known as flagella. Some types of chytrids are known to cause infection in frogs by penetrating their skin.


Glomeromycetes constitute almost half of all soil fungi and often form symbiotic relationships with the plants. These fungi get sugars from the plants and respond by dissolving soil minerals to offer the plants essential nutrients. What’s more, these fungi reproduce asexually.

mushrooms not vegetables or animals

What Separates Animals from Plants?

Both animals and plants cover an extensive part of the earth’s surface. They both came about the early man’s need to clothe and feed themselves. At a glance, plants and animals are very different. So, what is the difference between plants and animals? To begin with, the variation between animals and plants starts at the cellular level and progresses to include other factors such as mobility. Read on to find out more.


Plants respirate through a process known as respiration. They take in carbon dioxide to make food and give off oxygen. On the other hand, animals give CO2 and take in the oxygen they need to breathe.


Generally, plants remain rooted in one position throughout their lifetime, while animals can move about freely.


Animals feature an advanced nervous and sensory system, while plants either have virtually no sense of ability.


Plant cells have cell walls made of cellulose, whereas an animal cell will not have a cell wall. Another variation comes in the cell organelle structure. Plants cells contain chloroplasts for photosynthesis (food-making process), while animal cell don’t as they don’t make their own food.

Circulatory System

Most animals have a closed circulatory system, whereas plants have a rudimentary circulatory system, which is based on potential difference and pressure.

Food Intake

Animals can ingest complex foods, whereas plants only take simple foods.

mushrooms not vegetables or animals

Do Fungi Have More in Common With Plants Or Animals?

Most fungi appear like plants. They will grow into visible structures that strike complete resemblance with plant parts or animals. At a microscopic level, both fungi and plants have cell walls, which are not present in animal cells. However, the study of cladistics on fungi and plant/animal relationship show that fungi are closer relatives to animals than plants.

According to this phylogeny tree, animals are the more recent ancestor to Kingdom Plantae than Kingdom Animalia. So, the next time you’re munching that mushroom in your plate salad, remember you share a much closer relationship than your greens.

What Are the Differences Between Fungi and Animals?

Most tissue types are unique to only animals, for example, nerves and muscles. Also, some fungi, i.e., yeast, are single-celled organisms. On the other hand, all metazoans contain multiple cells. Even the most basic animal, the sponge, will have numerous cells specialized for various tasks.

All animals are mobile, which means they can move freely for most of their development. Even the immobile and sessile animals like corals and sponges contain motile larvae. However, fungi cannot move freely.

Most of these variations are superficial, i.e., some fungi being single-celled, or maybe due to the evolutionary changes, which took place once the metazoan lineages and fungus diverged, for instance, mobility function. Nonetheless, the Cladistic analysis explains that animals are closer relatives to fungi than plants regardless of these differences.

What Do Animals and Fungi Have in Common?

The first striking similarity between animals and fungi is their trophic level- in simpler terms, their rank in the food chain. Both the animals and fungi do not produce their own food like plants. They obtain food from external sources. Besides, animals and fungi share a specific complex carbohydrate molecule known as chitin, commonly found in plants.

Fungi and animals that lack a vertebrate use the chitin for structural purposes. In fungi, chitin is the main structural component of these cell walls. In animals, the chitin will appear in the rigid structures, for instance, the insect exoskeletons, the beak of an octopus, and many other mollusks. At a molecular level, the chitin found in fungi is similar to the plant’s cellulose (found in the cell walls and other structures). But all in all, the chitin molecule is modified to make it more robust than cellulose.

By studying a wide range of features present in different eukaryotic organisms, taxonomists have come with a phylogeny tree known as a cladogram. This phylogeny tree places fungi in a branch closer to animals and distinct from green plants. However, some will still differ in identifying algae-like organisms, i.e., Microsporidia between Kingdom Plantae and Animalia. All in all, all of these phylogeny trees show a close relation of fungi to Animals than plants. Thus, it would be best if you did not use superficial resemblance to reflect the phylogenic relationship.

mushrooms not vegetables or animals

What Are the Beneficial Functions of Fungi?

Fungi are among the essential groups of organisms on this planet. It is easy to overlook their benefits, as they are much hidden, unseen growth, and actions. Their benefits are mainly masked in the idea that fungi cause food spoilage and human diseases, such as candida infections and athlete’s foot. But in the true sense, fungi are essential to both nature and human life on many levels. The following are some of the beneficial functions of fungi.

i) In nature.   ii) In Humans

In Nature


Fungi and other bacteria take part in the recycling process. They feed on dead material in the soil and turn it into a form that can be re-used. If fungi were not present in the ground, the recycling activities could be significantly reduced. You could be coming across piles of animal remains and dead plants everywhere.


As with other animal pathogens, fungi can be useful in controlling the spread of damaging pests. These fungi will only attack specific insects and without affecting the plants or animals. Currently, fungi are under investigation for potential microbial pest controls, with some already out there.

For instance, the Chinese caterpillar fungus can be extensively useful in controlling insect’s infestation on crops. What you spray on your produce is the spores of these fungi. Some of the insect pests that have successfully been controlled using fungi include, but are not limited to, potato beetles, leafhoppers, citrus rust mites, and spittlebugs. Using fungi as biocontrol means you’ll be preserving the environment because you are not using chemicals while saving on costs.


Fungi are equally crucial for the cultivation and growth of many plants. The mycorrhizal relationship developed between the plant roots and fungi enhances the land’s productivity as these fungi make soil nutrients readily available to the plants. They feed on dead plant and animal remains. Because plants come at the foot of most food chains, suppose their growth is limited, all animal life, humans inclusive, would be at high risk of starvation.

mushrooms not vegetables or animals

In Humans


Fungi are also directly essential to humans as food. Shiitake mushrooms, morels, truffles, and chanterelles are considered by many as delicacies. Besides, the meadow mushroom and Agaricus campestris feature in most dishes. Other types of molds are used to ripen cheese. You can find most of these mushrooms in the wild. Even though most of the fungi are safe for consumption, others are quite poisonous. It would be best if you were absolutely sure what you collect is edible before consuming it.

Fermenting grains to make beer and wines is an old practice that has been practiced by many cultures worldwide. These ancient people picked wild yeast from natural grounds and used it to ferment the sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide under anaerobic conditions. Today, the fermentation process is more advanced but still uses the same principle.

The Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also referred to as baker’s yeast, is an essential ingredient in making bread, a staple food for many over the years. Before the isolated yeasts were made available in recent times, humans would just let dough collect yeast from the surroundings for several hours or days. A small portion of the leavened dough is set aside for use in making the next meal, much similar to the bread made today.


The invention of antibiotics has revolutionized healthcare globally. Most secondary fungi metabolites are used for commercial use. These fungi naturally produce the antibiotics that inhibit or prevent bacteria’s growth, hence used in controlling diseases in animal and human populations.

Essential antibiotics, for instance, cephalosporins and penicillin, are easily isolated from the fungi. The most commonly used drugs derived from fungi isolation include cyclosporine (reduces the patient’s rejection of an organ transplant), steroid hormones, and ergot alkaloids, which functions to prevent excessive bleeding. Other isolated compounds are proven effective in the treatment of certain forms of cancer.

Model Research

As less-complex eukaryotic organisms, fungi make a good fit for model research. Numerous advances in recent genetic have been achieved through the use of certain fungi. Researchers also use them as a great starting point for discovering comparable human genes.

Since they are eukaryotic organisms, the yeast cells produce and modify proteins like human cells, unlike bacteria, which do not have an internal structural membrane and enzymes to metabolize proteins. For these reasons, yeast makes far much better organisms in parallel DNA technology and experimental research.

Take Away

At one point, fungi were classified as plants because they grow from the soil and consist of rigid cell walls. Today, taxonomists have placed them independently in their own Kingdom. The most typical representatives are edible molds, yeasts, mushrooms, and plant pathogens, i.e., rusts and smuts. The Kingdom fungi have equal ranks with other Kingdom classifications such as Plantae and Animalia.

Despite the superficial resemblance to plants, the fungi are more related to animals. Like animals, the cell walls of fungi contain chitin, and both preserve food in the form of glycogen. The chitin in animals is responsible for the hardness of the exoskeleton of insects and lobsters. What’s more, both fungi and animals lack chlorophylls, meaning they are heterotrophic. But still, fungi are not animals as their cells don’t have cell walls, digest food externally, and have less mobility function.

mushrooms not vegetables or animals