Mushrooms are umbrella-shaped fungi, many of which are edible.
Mushrooms feed off either living or decaying plants.
Poisonous mushrooms are called toadstools.
The umbrella-shaped part of the mushroom is called the fruiting body. Under the surface is a mass of fine stalk threads called the mycelium.
The threads making up the mycelium are called hyphae said these absorb food.
The fruiting body grows overnight after rain and lasts just a few days. The mycelium may survive underground for many years.
The fruiting body is covered by a protective cap. On the underside of this cap are lots of thin sheets called gills. These gills are covered in spores.
A mushroom’s gills can produce 16 billion spores in its brief lifetime.
The biggest mushrooms have caps up to 50 cm across and grow up to 40 cm tall.
The ubiquitous button mushroom forms part of many international dishes, from Italian risotto to the classic English fry-up.
Fairy rings are rings of bright green grass once said to have been made by fairies dancing. They are actually made by a mushroom as its hyphae spread outwards. Chemicals they release make grass grow greener. Gradually the mycelium at the centre dies while outer edges grow and the ring gets bigger.