Mushrooms are not animals and they are not plants either! Mushrooms are a Fungus, and seem like a mixture between a plant and an animal. Mushrooms sort of look like plants because they grow from the ground, do not move about, and have "hyphae" which look like roots. But, Mushrooms do not make their own food like plants do. Instead, they get nutrients from other plants and animals by using these root-like "hyphae".
Mushrooms come in a lot of different colors, sizes, and shapes, but usually have a long, skinny "stalk" or "stipe" which holds up the umbrella shaped "cap". This cap is where you'll find all sorts of interesting creatures, such as the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, or Snails who are having a little nibble or a rest.
|Taken by Anne Elliott|
The cutest sounding Fungus is a Puffball! Normally it does not have a stalk and instead is just a round, squishy ball. When you squish it, a cloud of dust comes out, which are baby mushrooms! These baby mushrooms are called "spores" until they grow into an adult.
The baby spores of other mushrooms are found underneath the cap, and hide here until they are ready to be set free.
|© Mark Steinmetz|
Another interesting kind of Mushroom, is the Bird's Nest. It looks like they are cute baby eggs in a nest, but it is actually a Fungus! Mushrooms are often found in wet forested areas, and because they do not need sunlight like plants, they can grow in dark places.