Fungi cannot move in the same way that animals do and cannot produce their food. Someone recently asked me what fungi feed on, so I wanted to put together a short article to answer them.
Fungi get their nourishment from a variety of sources, including both plants and animals. Many fungi are parasitic and will attack plants. There are thousands of plant diseases caused by fungi.
Some fungi live near the roots of trees, receiving nourishment from the live roots. Underneath the ground, the fungi grow tiny filaments called hyphae. These form a tight tangle, which is known as mycelium. The hyphae grow around the tree roots, sucking the nutrition out.
Some fungi can also penetrate the tree roots. This causes a fungus root called mycorrhiza. This combination is not parasitic as the roots receive nutrients and water from the fungi while providing food to the heart.
Most fungi receive their nutrition from the remains of plants and animals. Fungi are essential to many habitats as they break down and decompose dead plant material by using hyphae.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.