September–October 2022

Young Naturalists

Fungus Among Us

Mushrooms are all around. Learn to spot and identify these amazing organisms.

Mary Hoff

Popping up on the side of a hiking trail, nestled into a cubby at the base of a tree, sprinkled across a lawn after a rainy day—Minnesota mushrooms are everywhere! Whether you’re hiking in a wilderness forest or playing in your own neighborhood, there’s likely a mushroom not far away. 

Some mushrooms have the familiar “toadstool” shape with a stem and a cap. Others can look like a blob of bright jelly, a sponge, a big white ball, or a shelf sticking out from a tree. Mushrooms come in an amazing variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Mushrooms are not plants. They’re not animals. So what are they? Let’s find out!

Hidden Wonders
Mushrooms are members of the group of living things known as fungi. This kingdom also includes the yeast we use to make bread and the microbes that cause athlete’s foot. 

There’s much more to a mushroom than what you see. A mushroom is just part of a much bigger living thing. Most of its body is made up of tiny threads that weave through the soil, through wood, or through parts of plants. 

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