- The Plate
Why Mushrooms Rule the Fungi Kingdom
You might assume those big white puffballs that pop up on the lawn after a good rainstorm are plants. But fungi are actually a diverse group of organisms and microorganisms that are neither plants nor animals.
Some members of the fungi kingdom are destructive, like the one that killed America’s chestnut trees, but some of them—at least many of the fruiting bodies that unfurl beneath trees in to spread their spores in damp forests—are delicious. It helps to know the difference.
People both love and fear mushrooms, but we may be more afraid of picking them ourselves than is warranted. There are about 10,000 species of mushrooms, says Ritas Vilgalys, who heads up the Vilgalys Mycology Lab at Duke University. “Of