Glossary of Mycological Terminology

As you get more involved with fungi, and in particular when talking with fellow enthusiasts or reading around the subject, the jargon of terms and phrases will eventually become your own short-hand. In the meantime, here is a glossary to help with terms that are frequently used by mycologists.

Term

Meaning

acrid

with a peppery, burning taste

acute

(referring to physical shape) sharp

adnate

(gills) attached to the stem over all or most of their total depth

adnexed

(gills) tapering in depth toward stem so that the attachment is narrow

amyloid

turning blue, grey or black when stained with Meltzer’s reagent

annulus

ring of tissue on a mushroom stem left by a torn partial veil

apiculus

tiny projection on a spore where it is attached to the sterigma

apothecium

cup-shaped fruitbody of certain ascomycetes fungi

appendiculate

(describing a cap margin) fringed with veil fragments

appressed

(often used to describe scales) flattened down onto a surface

arbuscular
mycorrhiza (AM)

(a mycorrhiza) where fungi from the Glomeromycota penetrate the roots of a (usually herbaceous) plant and provide the plant with water and nutrients while the plant supplies sugars to the fungus

ascending

(describing a ring) flaring upwards and out

ascocarp

fruitbody of an ascomycete fungus

ascomycetes

a - Class of fungi that produce their spores in sac-like cells called asci

ascospores

sexual spores produced in the asci of ascomycetes fungi

ascus

(pl., asci) the spore-producing cell of an ascomycetes fruitbody

autodigestion

self digesting or liquefying – a characteristic of the inkcap fungi

basidiocarp

fruitbody of a basidiomycete fungus

basidiomycetes

a - Class of fungi that produce their spores on basidia

basidiocarp

fruitbody of a basidiomycete fungus

basidiospores

sexual spores produced on the basidia of basidiomycetes fungi

basidium

(pl., basidia) spore-producing cell of a basidiomycete fungus

biotrophic

feeding on living cells of other organisms

bulbous

(describing a stem) with a swollen base

caespitose

crowded together in a tuft or a cluster but not attached to each other

campanulate

(describing a cap) bell shaped

cap

top part of a basidiomycete mushroom that carries the fertile tissue

carpophore

fungal fruitbody comprising stem, cap and gills

caulocystidium

a cystidium on the stem of a mushroom

cellulose

component of plant cell walls and of wood composed of glucose units

cheilocystidium

a cystidium on the edge of a mushroom gill

chlamydospores

asexual spores formed by the breaking up of fungal hyphae

cinereous

ash grey in colour

clamp connection

swollen area formed around septum in a hypha during cell division

clavate

(usually describing a mushroom stem) club-shaped

concolorous

(when comparing parts of a fruitbody) being of the same colour

context

the flesh of a fungal fruitbody

convex

(describing a cap) domed without either a hump or a depression

coprophilous

growing on dung

coriaceous

leathery

cortina

a cobweb-like partial veil consisting of fine silky fibres

crustose

(describing a lichen) forming a crust on a substrate (tree, rock etc)

cuticle

the surface layer of the cap or stem of a fruitbody

cystidium

special sterile cell among the basidia on some fungi

decurrent

(describing gills) running down the stem - as with Chanterelles

depressed

(describing a cap) where the central region is lower than the margin

descending

(describing a ring) flaring downwards and out, like a skirt

deuteromycetes 

obsolete term for a group fungi not known to reproduce sexually
(Molecular analysis can now determine their appropriate groups)

dextrinoid

staining brick red or brown with Meltzer’s reagent

dichotomous

forking/divided into pairs – as in logical decision-making trees

dikaryon 

a pair of closely associated, sexually compatible nuclei

distant

(describing gills) widely spaced

eccentric

(describing stem attachment to cap) offset to one side.

ectomycorrhiza
(EM)

(a mycorrhiza) where the fungus forms sheathes around plant rootlets (often of a tree), growing between but not penetrating the cells of the plant root, and providing the plant with water and nutrients while the plant supplies sugars to the fungus

emarginate

(describing gills) conspicuously notched near to the stem

endomycorrhiza 

mycorrhiza in which fungal hyphae penetrate cell walls of host plant

endophyte 

fungus living within a plant without causing visible symptoms of harm

floccose

with a covering of loose cotton-like scales

foetid

with a strong and offensive odour

foliose

(describing a lichen) shaped like a leaf

free

(describing gills) not attached to the stem

fruticose

(describing a lichen) shaped like a shrub

furfuraceous

(describing a surface) covered in particles that look like grains of sand

fusiform

(describing a stem) spindle-shaped, tapering at top and bottom

germ pore

thin region of spore wall via which spores can germinate

gills

plates of tissue bearing the hymenium in an agaricoid fungus

glabrous

(describing a surface) bald

gleba

spore-bearing tissue enclosed within fruitbodies of gasteromycetes

glutinous

(describing a cap surface) covered with a slimy gelatinous layer

granulose

(describing a cap or stem surface) covered with small granules

guttule

a small oil-like drop visible (via a microscope) inside a fungal spore

hemicellulose

amorphous (non-crystalline) polysaccharides in plant cell walls

hirsute

hairy

hispid

covered with stiff bristle-like hairs

homogeneous

being the same throughout

hyaline

clear (colourless) when viewed under a microscope

hygrophanous

appearing translucent when wet, paler and more opaque when dry

hymenium

fertile spore-bearing tissue (e.g. on mushroom gill or pore surfaces)

hypha

(pl., hyphae) filamentous thread of fungal mycelium

inferior

(describing a ring) located near the base of the stem

infundibuliform

funnel-shaped

involute

(describing a cap) rolled inwards at the margin

lamellae

gills

latex

milky fluid that oozes from cut surfaces of Lactarius species

lichen

organism comprising a fungus and an alga or a cyanobacterium

lignicolous

growing on wood

mucilaginous

(often describing a mushroom cap) covered with slime

mycelium

body of a fungus, most of which is underground or hidden within wood

mycobiont

the fungal component of a lichen or of a mycorrhizal partnership

mycology

the study of fungi

mycophagy

the eating of fungi

mycophile

a person who loves fungi

mycophobe

a person who fears or loathes fungi

mycorrhiza

structure by which a fungus and a plant exchange nutrients mutually

myxomycetes

a large and commonly encountered group within the slime moulds

necrotrophic

feeding by killing and consuming (part of) another organism

nonamyloid

not turning blue, grey or black when stained with Meltzer’s reagent

organelle

a differentiated (separate) structure within a cell

parasitism

process whereby an organism feeds at the expense of another (host)

partial veil

protective membrane covering gills during development of a fruitbody

peridioles

egg-like spore capsules in bird’s-nest fungi (Nidulariaceae)

peridium

outer wall of a fungus, especially a gasteromycete (e.g. a puffball)

perithecium

flask-shaped chambers containing asci within pyrenomycetes fungi

photobiont

photosynthesizing component (alga or cyanobacterium) of a lichen

photosynthesis

process by which plants convert carbon dioxide and water to sugars

pileus

(pl., pilei) the umbrella-shaped cap on the top of a mushroom stem

pleurocystidium

a cystidium on a gill surface

pores

the orifices of the tubes of polypore fungi via which spores emerge

pruinose

covered with a bloom (often pale, like a fine layer of chalk dust)

pseudorhiza

a tap-root-like extension at the base of a mushroom stem

pubescent

(describing a surface) covered with fine short hairs

resupinate

fruitbody that lies flat on the substrate with its hymenium outermost

reticulate

(describing a stem, notably of a bolete) marked with a net-like pattern

rhizomorph

a root-like mycelial strand comprising bunched parallel hyphae

ring

membranous remains of the partial veil attached to a stem

rufous

brownish red

saprophyte

an organism that obtains its nutrients from dead organic material

scabrous

(describing a stem or cap surface) rough with scale-like projections

septate

(describing hyphae) partitioned by cross walls known as septa

septum

(pl., septa) a cross wall separating cells of a hyphal thread

serrate

(describing gill margins) with saw-toothed edges

sessile

without a stalk

sinuate

(describing gills) with a notch near the point of attachment to the stem

slime moulds

a group of fungus-like organisms that use spores to reproduce

sphaerocysts

globose hyphal cells in the Russulaceae and certain other fungi

spore

reproductive structure of a fungus, usually a single cell

sporophore

fungal fruitbody

squamose

(describing the surface of a cap or a stem) covered with scales

squamulose

(describing the surface of a cap or a stem) covered with tiny scales

stellate

star-shaped

sterigma

(pl., sterigmata) prong at top of basidium on which a spore develops

stipe

stem of a mushroom

stipitate

(describing a fruitbody) having a stem

striate

(describing a cap) with fine radiating lines or furrows around margin

subdecurrent

(describing gills) running just a short distance down the stem

subglobose

almost spherical

subtomentose

(describing a surface) somewhat or finely woolly

sulcate

deeply furrowed

superior

(describing a ring) located near the top of the stem

taxonomy

the - Classification of organisms based on their natural relationships

thallus

(pl., thalli) the body of a fungus or a lichen

tomentose

densely woolly, velvety, or thickly covered with soft hairs

trama

the flesh or context of a fungal fruitbody’s cap, gills or stem

truncate

ending abruptly as if chopped off

tubes

spore-bearing cylindrical structures of boletes and polypores

umbilicate

(describing a cap) having a navel-like central depression

umbo

a raised central mound (often conical with a rounded top)

umbonate

(describing a cap) having a raised central mound

universal veil

a protective membrane that initially surrounds an entire fruitbody

Uredinales

rust fungi (an order within the Basidiomycota)

ustilaginomycetes

smut fungi (a - Class within the Basidiomycota)

ventricose

(describing a stem) swollen at or near to the middle

verrucose

(describing spores) covered with small rounded warts

vinaceous

the colour of pale red wine

viscid

slimy or sticky (at least when moist)

volva

remains of the universal veil found at stem base of some fungi

zonate

(usually describing a cap) marked with concentric colour bands

Zygomycota

a - Class of simple fungi whose hyphae generally lack cross walls

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