Are Mushrooms Plants?

Is a Mushroom a Plant?

At first, around the 1950s, the mushrooms and all other fungi were put in the plant kingdom. Because science and technology were not that advanced at that moment.

But as science evolved, we learned that there are kingdoms other than plants and animals. Thus, mushrooms were placed in the kingdom Fungi.

So, No! A mushroom is not a plant but a fungus/fungi. Why? Because there are things/factors that differentiate the fungi kingdom from the plant kingdom.

One of the main reasons for mushrooms not being a plant is that they can not create their own food. In other words, they can not photosynthesize their own food from the sunlight.

A study has shown that fungi, especially mushrooms, used to be considered plants but, in reality, are not. Now, the question arises if fungi don’t make their food from the sunlight like the plants do, how do they do it then?

There is more to this whole fungi kingdom thing than we might know of. The fungi like mushrooms that we see are just the tip of the iceberg; the real network lies beneath the ground.

Many fungi are widely known for assisting in the decaying process of plant material. They release enzymes that dissolve the materials into the soil. That is how they obtain their food.

Why Mushroom is classified as Kingdom Fungi?

At first, mushrooms were put in the plant kingdom, but things changed when scientists learned more about the structure, food process, and other essential things about fungi (mushrooms).

The reason mushrooms are classified as kingdom fungi is the way they make their food, which is entirely different than plants. How can you call mushrooms plants when they are not following the basic food process of plants (photosynthesis)?

So, scientists began to study more about fungi and found out there are more living beings that are neither animals nor plants. Then came the Whittaker, who proposed to create a whole new kingdom for these newly discovered living beings in 1969.

That is how mushrooms, yeasts, molds, and all other fungi were classified into a separate kingdom, the kingdom fungi. The whole fungi kingdom does not have chloroplast in their bodies.

However, fungi got a new kingdom but have you ever thought that all fungi had these characteristics from millions of years, so why were fungi classified as plants in the first place?

Well, fungi used to grow from the soil, like plants do; they had cell walls like plants do. These were the primary factors that put fungi in the plant kingdom at first.

Why aren’t Mushrooms green like all Plants?

Mushrooms are not green like plants because they don’t have chlorophyll in them. Plants have a pigment that provides them a green color. That is why most plants are green.

Chlorophyll should not be confused with chloroplast. They both are different. To be honest, the fungi neither have chlorophyll nor chloroplast.

Lack of chlorophyll is the reason that mushrooms are not green. Now, the question arises that if they don’t have chlorophyll or chloroplast, how do they feed themselves?

Fungi are widely known as decomposers of dead natural materials. In other words, they are called Saprotrophs. All saprotrophs fulfill their needs by feeding on the dead matter.

How does the lack of green color affect fungi? One of the reasons fungi are not plants is that they don’t have a green color, and they can not photosynthesize their food.

Basically, chlorophyll absorbs the sunlight during the process of photosynthesis, and they convert the sunlight into a green color, which is why plants are green and mushrooms are not.

What are the similarities between Mushrooms and Green Plants?

You just read the differences between green plants and mushrooms, but there are some similarities between the two of them. First is their origin. How did they evolve?

First Similarity:

The origin of both of these organisms is from the same kingdom, the kingdom Protists. Protists are unicellular organisms. All the eukaryotic organisms that we see today, like fungi and plants, evolved from these unicellular organisms, Protists.

Moreover, the first and foremost similarity between plants and fungi is that they are both eukaryotic and evolved from kingdom Protista.

Second Similarity:

The second similarity between both plants and fungi is their cell structures. Because they both evolved from the same kingdom, kingdom Protista, it is pretty reasonable to imagine that they both would have the same cell DNA structure.

Both fungi and plants are eukaryotic, and they both have their cells circled by cell walls. There are many other components in both of their cells that are alike, making them similar to each other; these components are Golgi apparatuses, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and some other components.

Third Similarity:

The third similarity between both of them is their relationship to other organisms. Both plants and fungi can be parasites. Plants who are parasites get their food and nutrition from other organisms and entirely rely on their hosts.

Similarly, fungi like Armillaria are parasitic and usually get their food and nutrition from tree woods; thus, tree woods eventually decompose, and as you all know, fungi also feed on the decaying matters.

Meaning that fungi benefit from living tree woods, and also when they die (decay), fungi feed on their decays as well. But fungi and plants also have a relationship with each other.

Fungi provide plants with essential minerals and help in the growth of plants, and for this “act of generosity,” they get sucrose, carbohydrates, and some other nutrients from plants. In simpler words, they co-exist.

Fourth Similarity:

The fourth similarity between them both is their mobility. From the external look, fungi and plants look almost similar, and they both grow from the soil surface.

If you just look a bit below the surface, you will see that plant’s roots and fungi’s hyphae look almost the same (thread-like). These were some resemblances between both plants and fungi.

How do Fungi differ from Plants?

There are many factors that differentiate fungi from plants, such as lack of chloroplast, lack of chlorophyll, different reproduction processes, and many other factors. Let’s go through them one by one.

First Difference:

Plants have chloroplast, and fungi do not. Chloroplast is responsible for photosynthesis in plants. Basically, the chloroplast captures the sunlight from the environment and reacts it with H2O and CO2; thus, plant food is created.

The sunlight that gets absorbed by the chloroplast is stocked in the ATP, and this whole process is called photosynthesis. Fungi don’t have chloroplast. This means that they can’t photosynthesize the food through sunlight.

Fungi get their food and nutrition from their surroundings, primarily through decaying the plant material. They get their food by getting their food both from the living and non-living beings.

Second Difference:

Plants and fungi have different processes of reproduction. Fungi expand their colonies by spreading their spores. They spread their spores far and wide into the environment, and wherever these spores land on the ground, they reproduce there.

Whereas plants reproduce sexually by their seeds. There is a whole sexual process of reproduction in the plants (flowering plants). The whole process is known as pollination. The male and female parts of the flowers fuse together.

The male part of the flower is known as stamen, and the female part is known as the pistil. The stamen has the anther (and the anther has pollens, which play an essential role in pollination).

And, the female part (the pistil) has the stigma. In simpler words, the pollen (male) and stigma (female) fuse together to reproduce and form new seeds.

Third Difference:

Almost all fungi are decomposers. They feed both on living and non-living beings. There are some other decomposers on earth like bacteria, but fungi decay most of the plant material.

While plants are known as universal producers. They are the only beings on earth who can produce their own food, and all the other living beings are dependent on plants for their food.

Are Mushrooms closer to Animals or Plants?

There is a strong theory that fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants. There was a detailed study on the eukaryotes by comparing the eukaryotes of fungi, plants, and animals.

It was found that the fungi eukaryotes are more like animals and less like plants. Some of the main reasons are lack of chlorophyll: Neither fungi nor animals have chlorophyll that can give them the green color.

Both fungi and animals are consumers: Plants are the only producers globally, and all living organisms, including animals and fungi, directly or indirectly consume plants. In simpler words, they can’t make their own food.

All of these reasons point out that fungi are closer to animals than to plants.

Is Mushroom Veg or Non-Veg?

While there are different opinions on this topic. Some consider it veg and some consider it non-veg. You may have heard Hindu Brahmins; they are strict vegetarians. Mushrooms are considered not-so-fit for Brahmins.

If you do a little research on this topic, you may get mixed opinions. But a reliable source claims that mushrooms are veg. Because most mushrooms (fungi) feed on plants and that is why considered veg.

Conclusion:

We have talked in detail about all the queries concerning mushrooms as plants. Let me summarize the whole article.

Are Mushrooms Plants? No! They are fungi.

Why are Mushrooms classified as kingdom fungi? Because they have different characteristics from plants.

Why aren’t Mushrooms green like all plants? Because they don’t have chlorophyll.

Are Mushrooms closer to animals or plants? They are closer to animals than to plants.

Is Mushroom Veg or Non-Veg? Mushrooms are claimed to be Veg by reliable sources.

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