The leaves have a green pigment called chlorophyll. This makes the plants green. But what does chlorophyll do? Chlorophyll, along with sun and water, makes the food for the plant. Take a leaf and observe it closely. You will see a thin thread-like structure in the leaf. These are like thin pipes that carry water and food to the entire leaf. Plants that don’t have leaves cannot make food of their own.

Is a mushroom a plant?

No, Mushroom is not a plant. It is a type of Fungi! Just like we have separate plant and animal kingdoms, we have the Fungi Kingdom too. For many years, it was believed that fungi were plants. But we now know that fungi are different from plants in many ways. Fungi can’t make their own food through photosynthesis unlike plants.

There are many types of fungi. Some fungi make you sick by giving you infection while some are healthy , for example:

Mushrooms: They are edible fungi. But we only eat few types of mushrooms as not all mushrooms are edible.

Toadstools: These are brightly colored mushrooms and poisonous to eat.

Yeast: It is used to make bread.

Mold: It is the fuzzy green growth that we see on old bread or old food. It is poisonous and can make us very sick.

Not all molds are harmful. For example , common blue molds that grow on fruits produce an antibiotic called penicillin. It is used to kill bacteria that causes harmful diseases.

If fungi can’t make their own food, how do they get their food?

Fungi can feed on anything living or dead. It can grow in soil, on plants or on old food. It feeds on living or dead organisms by decomposing them into smaller units. They produce long, thin threads which are called hyphae. Hyphae spread through the food and release enzymes to break down the food into substances that the fungi can easily absorb. This is how fungi get its nutrition, that is, by rotting the materials around them.

Fungi may sound yuckie but they are great helpers of Mother Nature. They break down leaves and other plants and animal material to make nutrients for the soil, making it more fertile.