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Types of fungal fruiting bodies

(or sporocarps)

This section contains macroscopic descriptions of the commonest types of fruiting bodies.

The standard mushroom (stem, cap, gills) is familiar to everyone, but not all mushrooms have stems. Some species that grow on wood have caps that grow out directly from the wood. In some cases the cap is semi-circular and attached by the straight edge (as shown in this species of Crepidotus below) while in others (that grow on the underside of fallen logs or trunks) the cap is circular but attached by its upper side. The second picture shows a species of Resupinatus, found growing on the underside of a rotting branch that was lying on the ground. You can see the gills on the small, circular cap (up to a centimetre in diameter).

click to enlarge
Crepidotus sp.

click to enlarge
Resupinatus sp.

Apart from mushrooms there are a variety of other forms of sporocarps, sometimes with very descriptive common names. You can find out more about various common types by following the links below. But remember, whenever you see one of these - you're only seeing the spore-producing part of the fungus. There's an out-of-sight mycelium around - in soil, wood, dung or whatever the sporocarp is growing from.

Hexagonia tenuis : Cooke illustration

Boletes & polypores

Boletes are mushroom-like, but with pores under the cap. Polypores vary from flat to mushroom-like and also have pores.

  Ramaria formosa : Cooke illustration

Coral & jelly fungi

Coral fungi are coral-like in shape, while jelly fungi are jelly-like to the touch.

Geastrum fimbriatum ; Cooke illustration

Stinkhorns, puffballs & birds nest fungi

Stinkhorns are smelly, puffballs are powdery and birds nest fungi are cup-like with "eggs" inside.

  Stereum pusillum : Cooke illustration

Stereoid & paint (or skin) fungi

Stereoid fungi are mushroom-like to bracket-like, with a smooth underside. A paint (or skin) fungus looks like an extra skin growing on the surface of some wood.

Cookeina sulcipes : Cooke illustration

Cup fungi

The fruiting bodies are typically shaped like shallow cups or saucers

  Poronia oedipus : Cooke illustration

Flask fungi

These produce their fruiting bodies in small chambers

Elaphomyces leveillei : Cooke illustration

Truffle-like fungi

Truffle-like fruiting bodies are generally out of sight, underground.