Mushroom Mushrooms are fungi. They reproduce by spores, which are usually located on the underside of mushroom caps. The spores are produced in the gills or pores underneath the cap. When mature, they drop into the soil or whatever surface they have colonized, where they will then germinate new mycelia (spawn).
Mushrooms grow in a variety of places. They can be found on the ground, or amongst moss and grasses. However, most often they are found attached to trees as part of a symbiotic relationship called mycorrhiza (or myco-for short). The fungus absorbs sugars from the tree and provides it with minerals and water. This is not a parasitic relationship as some think, but one of mutualism. In turn, the tree provides the fungus with sugars from photosynthesis.
In fact, many types of trees cannot survive without this relationship as their root systems simply cannot obtain enough nutrients and water to sustain healthy growth. However, there are plenty of mushroom species that grow without the help of trees.
Mushrooms produce their food in much the same way as any plant and therefore require light to survive. Although they usually live in shady areas, mushrooms can extend their mycelial threads (hyphae) up toward the surface in order to intercept sunlight. Places with plenty of light for most of the day tend to have more abundant mycelial growth than shaded spots. The larger mushroom fruiting bodies possibly also need more light in order to produce the complex carbohydrates that they are made up of. This is why mushrooms grow better in some locations rather than others.
The time it takes for a mushroom to fruit varies according to species and environmental conditions. Some species, such as shaggy mane or pholiota mushrooms, fruit only once every few years. Others may take months or just days. The Amanita muscaria mushroom takes several weeks before it forms its first fruiting bodies but then produces them profusely over the next month.
Mushrooms reproduce by producing spores. Spores are produced in the cap of the mushroom, or on its underside. When mature, spores drop into the ground to germinate new mycelia (spawn).