FUNGAL FAMILIES

The fungi we are likely to encounter when in search of specimens are mainly split into 2 groups, these being:-

BASIDIOMYCETES

The largest group known as the spore droppers.  Basidiomycetes can be split into 4 groups, these being Gill Fungi (Agarics); Boletes (with pores); Polypores (bracket Fungi) and Gasteromycetes (stomach shaped fungi).  

The outer surfaces of a group of club-shaped cells (basidia) are responsible for the production of the spores.  These cells are located beneath the cap of the fungus and are found upon the surface of distinctive structures known as gills or pores.  The gills/pores are raised above ground usually by the stipe thus giving the spores enough space to fall and disperse.  In the case of Gasteromycetes, the basidia are found initially inside the fruiting body. Puffballs for instance split at the top and require raindrops to hit the surface of the sac which causes enough pressure to force out a puff of spores, whereas the giant puffball randomly disintegrates and splits relying on grazing cattle to kick it around underfoot for spore dispersal.  Examples of basidiomycetes are Blackening Wax Cap (Hygrocybe nigrescens), Bonnet Mycena (Mycena galericulata), Horse Mushroom (Agaricus arvensis) and Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum).

ASCOMYCETES 

The ascomycetes spread their spores by the wind.  The spores which are formed within a sac which is either club or flask shaped are dispersed through the tip of the ascus. Examples of ascomycetes are Common Morel (Morchella vulgaris), Black Helvella (Helvella lacunosa), Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcosypha coccinea) and Candle-Snuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon).

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