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< class="article__title title are-mushrooms-a-plant-understanding-the-classification"> Are Mushrooms A Plant? Understanding The Classification>
Are Mushrooms A Plant? Understanding The Classification
Mar 02, 23
This article has been vetted by the Onnit Advisory Board. Read more about our editorial process.
Author: Sony Sherpa

Are Mushrooms A Plant? Understanding The Classification

  • by Sony Sherpa

    Medically reviewed by

    Sony Sherpa

    Dr. Sony Sherpa is a board-certified Clinical Doctor and dedicated advocate for holistic medicine, specializing in functional mushrooms. Her blend of medical expertise and passion for alternative wellness lends authenticity to her role as a contributor for Natures Rise.

  • |
  • 6 min read
Are Mushrooms A Plant? Understanding The Classification

Let's try our luck at guessing! We have a living thing in mind. But it’s not a plant or an animal. Yet it does grow outside. Occasionally, you can even eat it! Do you know what it is?

Many people think mushrooms are plants, but they’re actually fungi. Like plants and animals have their own kingdoms of living things, fungi also do. Mold and yeast are two further examples of fungi. Fungi are a distinct group with traits that they share with both plants and animals, as well as some unique ones.

Mushrooms don’t make their own foods like plants do. Instead, they feed off of other organisms like plants and trees. But metabolically, mushrooms are more like.  

So, if you've ever picked up a mushroom and wondered if are mushrooms a plant, you’re not the only one here.

What Are Mushrooms?

A mushroom is a reproductive structure that some fungus produces. It resembles a plant's fruit in some ways, but instead of seeds, it makes millions of tiny spores that develop in the pores or gills found beneath the mushroom's cap.

The spores are released into the air, and if they land on a suitable surface (like soil or wood), they will germinate and grow into a network of microscopic rooted threads (mycelium) that infiltrate their new source of food. In contrast to the mushroom, which appears and then quickly vanishes, the mycelium frequently endures, drawing nutrients and producing its annual crop of mushrooms.

Are Mushrooms Plants Or Animals?

Are Mushrooms Plants Or Animals?

Mushrooms' rigid cell walls, made of long-chain polysaccharides, make them structurally more similar to plants than animals. In addition, the chain components of these polysaccharides can be linked in various ways, making them quite complex.

Nonetheless, there are a few reasons why mushrooms are distinct from plants.

Reason 1: Mushrooms lack chlorophyll

The primary characteristic of plants is chlorophyll, which is used to transform solar energy into carbohydrates. Nevertheless, as mushrooms lack chlorophyll, they cannot photosynthesize and must instead "steal" the carbohydrates they require from plants.

Reason 2: Mushrooms have a unique mode of acquiring nutrients

As decomposers, fungi typically eat dead objects like leaves and fallen trees. Because of this, it's common to discover mold growing on stale food, dead trees, logs, and mushrooms growing in dark areas.

Reason 3: Fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants

Unbelievably, mushrooms are more metabolically associated with people than with plants. Mushrooms absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide, unlike plants, which take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. In other words, mushrooms breathe similarly to how people do.

Types Of Mushrooms

Types Of Mushrooms

Fungi can be broadly categorized into three groups based on how they interact with plants:


They thrive on decomposing organic material, such as decaying wood, plant roots, and fallen leaves, and extract minerals and carbon dioxide. This category has a wide variety of gourmet and therapeutic varieties of mushrooms, including white button, shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms.


They absorb the nutrients from living trees and other plants as they grow. As a result, they are also known as murderers among the mushrooms. The saprophytes clean up the dead stuff after the tree or bush dies.


They work in harmony with the roots of surviving trees. They consume the tree's carbohydrates and nutrients, but they also replenish it with minerals and other necessary elements, strengthening the root system of their hosts. These mushrooms are challenging to grow and are frequently only found in nature. This group includes truffles, chanterelles, and porcini mushrooms.

Mushrooms can also be grouped according to human use, such as:

Edible mushrooms

People have valued mushrooms as food from ancient times, and they are frequently utilized in cooking and many different cuisines. Most mushrooms found in stores were produced for profit on mushroom farms.

The white button mushroom is the most well-liked of these. Lion's mane, shiitake, and maitake are other edible mushrooms(1) that are available at numerous supermarkets 

Psychoactive mushrooms

Psychoactive mushrooms have been utilized as a sacrament in ceremonies for mental and physical healing. These mushrooms, also referred to as "magic mushrooms" or "'shrooms," have been said to facilitate significant and life-altering revelations frequently regarded as mystical experiences.

Medicinal mushrooms

Some mushrooms have been used in folk medicine for their health-boosting(2) properties. However, they are being consumed for their therapeutic properties and as dietary supplements. Lion's mane, Reishi, Turkey tail, Maitake, Cordyceps, and Chaga are commonly used medicinal mushroom supplements.

FAQs About Are Mushrooms A Plant?

Are Mushrooms Vegan?

Several of these essential nutrients are found in mushrooms, making them a critical component of a vegan diet. The texture of mushrooms also makes them a pleasant and inexpensive meat alternative.

Why Is Mushroom Healthy?

The macronutrients in mushrooms help maintain a robust immune system. They can be consumed frequently as a part of a balanced diet because they are also low in calories.

Is Mushroom Living Or Nonliving?

Mushrooms are living creatures, specifically members of the fungi kingdom. Since they are formed of cells, mushrooms require energy to survive.

Key Takeaways

Are mushrooms a plant? No, they are not, and neither are they animals. Instead, they are a part of the unique fungal kingdom with some similarities to plants and animals. Regardless, mushrooms are vegan-friendly and one of the healthiest foods around.

We Would Love To Here Your Comments Leave A Comment


  1. Edible mushrooms: improving human health and promoting quality life, (1) 
  2. Medicinal Mushrooms: Past, Present and Future, (2)

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