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Fungus The Latin word for mushroom is fungus plural fungi The word fungus has come to stand for a whole group of simple plants that contain no chlorophyll and lack such complex plant structures as roots stems leaves and flowers Included among the fungi along with mushrooms are molds mildews rusts smuts truffles and yeasts Toadstool is another name for mushroom Some people use the name toadstool only when referring to poisonous mushrooms but botanists make no such distinction A general scientific term for fungi is mycota from the Greek word for mushroom mykes and the study of these organisms is called mycology Because they lack chlorophyll fungi are unable to manufacture food out of the raw materials around them as other plants do They must therefore get nutrition from other plants and from animals When they get their food from living plants or animals fungi are called parasites When they get it from dead plant or animal matter they are called saprophytes Fungi are very widely distributed throughout the world particularly in the temperate and tropical regions where there is sufficient moisture for them to grow They are less likely to be found in dry areas Some few types of fungi have been reported in Arctic and Antarctic areas some molds after all thrive on refrigerated food There are about 50000 known species of fungus Although any single typical fungus may not be uniform in appearance--a mushroom for example has a cap stem and rootlike components--it has in fact a uniform structure throughout The typical fungus consists of a mass of tubular branched filaments or strands called hyphae singular hypha The mass of hyphae is called the mycelium and it is this that makes up the thallus or body of the fungus In order to grow the mycelium uses the organic matter either living or dead in its environment As the
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