Fungi Term Glossary

This glossary is designed to help with common mushroom and fungi terms and phrases. The terms are presented alphabetically and defined as simply as possible. All definitions are given as they relate to fungi and mushrooms, regardless of other meanings and definitions.


Ascomycete – Any fungus in the phylum ascomycota.

Ascomycota – One of the two phylum of fungi including 40,000+ species. They are defined by their spore producing bodies known as asci.

Ascus (pl. Asci) – A cell type in which spores are formed in fungi of the ascomycota phylum.

Basidiomycete – Any fungus in the phylum basidiomycota.

Basidiomycota – One of the two phylum of fungi including 30,000+ species. They are defined by their spore producing bodies know as basidium.

Basidium – A cell type in which spore are formed in the fungi of the basidiomycota phylum

Bioluminescence – Light produced by a living organism through some chemical means.

Calcareous – Having or containing lime or chalk.

Cartilaginous – A texture that is like cartilage or gristle.

Conk – A fruitbody of bracket fungus which grows off of trees. Appears as little shelves or platforms.

Coprophilous – Manure or dung loving.

Coralloid – Branched similarly to that seen in coral.

Cord – Hyphe grouped together to form a visible strand.

Cortina – a thing veil covering the gills of some species of mushrooms. Appears webbed or like netting.

Crustose – Of forming a crust.

Cuticle – An outer covering. Specifically this refers to the surface of a mushroom cap.

Decurrent – Running down the length of the stem.

Ectomycorrhizal – Of forming mycorrhiza symbiosis where the hyphae of the fungi encase the cells of a root in a plant partner.

Effused – Spread thin or flat.

Endomycorrhizal – Of forming mycorrhiza symbiosis where the hyphae of the fungi penetrate into the cells of a root in a plant partner.

Endophyte – A fungi that dwells with the tissues of a plant.

Epithet – The second name in a two part species name.

Evanescent – Not long lived, quickly disappearing, or fleeting.

Excentric – Non-central.

Fibril – A small fiber.

Fibrillose – Of having or being covered in small fibers.

Flocculose/Floccular – fluffy or tuft covered.

Foliose – Leaf-like lobes, specifically in lichens.

Fruitbody – the spore-bearing part of a fungus. Often as mushrooms.

Gills – A spore containing surface. In mushrooms these reside under the cap.

Girdle – A band of scales ringing the stem. Typically non-uniform or incomplete.

Hygroscopic – Moisture absorbing or absorbent.

Hypha (pl. Hyphae) – A microscopic filament of cells of which fungi are primarily composed of.

Indusium – An enclosing membrane.

Metabolites – Chemical compounds produced by living organisms.

Montane – A higher altitude ecological zone, typically cooler and more damp than higher or lower elevations. Also below sub-alpine areas.

Mycelium (pl. Mycelia) – A mass composed of connected hyphae that form a fungus. Also refereed to as Spawn when cultivating, mushrooms grown from this mass of cells.

Mycologist – Someone who studies fungi.

Mycology – The study of fungi.

Mycorrhiza – A mutually beneficial symbiosis between fungi and plants in which the two organisms share nutrients and protection.

Nitrophile – Nitrogen loving.

Peridiole – A group or collection of spores.

Phalloid – Resembling the structure of stinkhorn mushrooms.

Phenolic – Any compound or substance containing phenol a carbon ring structure also known as carbolic acid.

Polypore – Alternative name for bracket fungus.

Poroid – Of having a spore bearing surface comprised of pores.

Propagule – Any part of a fungus that can propagate on it’s own.

Ramifying – Branching.

Rhizoid – A root like structure made of hyphae.

Rhizomorph – A visible strand formed of clumped hyphae.

Ring – The remaining membrane attached to the stem after the spore cap opens and separates from the stem. Found only on mushroom producing fungi.

Ring Zone – similar to the ring, the zone showing where the cap detached from the stem.

Rust – A fungi caused disease in plants. Named for it’s appearance.

Saprotroph – An organism that feeds on dead organic tissue.

Sclerotium (pl. sclerotia) – A hardened collection of hyphae, presenting as a ball or pellet. Often acts as a propagule.

Scrufy – Having a rough scaled surface.

Smut – A fungi caused disease in plants. Presents as a brown powder spore covering.

Sporocarp – Technical term for a fruitbody or mushroom.

Striate – striped, referring specifically to regions of the mushroom cap.

Stroma – sterile fungal tissue which form fruitbodies.

Thallus (pl. Thalli) – crust-like mycelium, found particularly in lichens.

Umbo – Central point of a cap.

Umbonate – Caps which have a central point.

Veil – A protective covering over a mushrooms spore producing surface. This membrane later detaches forming the ring or ring zone.

Volva – what remains of the veil after the mushroom opens.