In fungi, the sporocarp (also known as fruiting body or fruit body) is a multicellular structure on which spore-producing structures, such as basidia or asci, are borne. The fruiting body is part of the sexual phase of a fungal life cycle, with the rest of the life cycle being characterized by vegetative mycelial growth and asexual spore production.
The sporocarp of a basidiomycete is known as a basidiocarp or basidiome, while the fruiting body of an ascomycete is known as an ascocarp. A significant range of different shapes and morphologies are found in both basidiocarps and ascocarps; these features play an important role in the identification and taxonomy of fungi.
Fruiting bodies are termed epigeous if they grow on the ground, as with ordinary mushrooms, while others which grow underground are hypogeous. Epigeous sporocarps that are visible to the naked eye, especially fruiting bodies of a more or less agaricoid morphology, are often referred to as mushrooms, while hypogeous fungi are usually called truffles or false truffles. During their evolution truffles lost the ability to disperse their spores via air currents, instead propagating by animal consumption and subsequent dispersal of their spores.
The largest known fruiting body is a specimen of Phellinus ellipsoideus (formerly Fomitiporia ellipsoidea) found on Hainan Island. It measures up to 1,085 centimetres (427 in) in length and is estimated to weigh between 400 and 500 kilograms (880 and 1,100 lb).
- Zabowski, D.; Zasoski, R. J.; Littke, W.; Ammirati, J. (1990). "Metal content of fungal sporocarps from urban, rural, and sludge-treated sites". Journal of Environmental Quality 19 (3): 372–377. doi:10.2134/jeq1990.00472425001900030004x.
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