The language of mycology can be intimidating for the novice. Hopefully, the definitions in this glossary, culled and adapted from a variety of online and printed resources, will help the reader comprehend the information in this website.
Actinomycetes: Gram-positive, filamentous bacteria, sometimes referred to as Deuteromycetes in older literature.
Acuminate: gradually narrowing to a point.
Adaptogen: a substance considered to help symptoms like tiredness and irritability by building up “resistance to stress”.
Adnate (gill descriptor): gills broadly attached to the stem.
Adnexed (gill descriptor): gills narrowly attached to the stem.
Agar: an extract from a seaweed used to solidify growth media.
Alkaloid: an organic substance having alkaline properties and occurring naturally in plants and animals. Alkaloids are largely composed of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen, although some contain oxygen.
Allantoid: slightly curved with rounded edges; shaped like a sausage.
Allergens: molecules that elicit a hypersensitivity reaction in a previously exposed host. Generally, fungal allergens are proteins or glycoproteins.
Alloxan: a chemical (C4H2N2O4) that is the crystalline oxidation product of uric acid. It is used experimentally to induce diabetes by selective destruction of beta cells in the pancreas.
Amino acid: a basic structural building units of proteins. Biochemically, a molecule containing both amine and carboxyl functional groups, with the general formula H2NCHRCOOH, where R is an organic substituent.
Amyloid: spores that are stained blue-black by Melzer’s reagent.
Anamorph: (ANAtomic MORPHology) – an asexual form of the fungus that is recognized based on its anatomic morphology. A fungus can have several anamorphs–the hyphae, alternating arthroconidia, and spherules with their endospores are the three anamorphs of Coccidioides immitis. These forms could also be referred to as synanamorphs.
Anastomosing (gill descriptor): having cross-connections between gills, giving the appearance of a vein-like network.
Annular ring: a distinct ring on the stem.
Annulus: a ring-like partial veil (or part of it) around the stem present after the cap has expanded.
Anticoagulant: a substance that prevents blood from clotting.
Antihelmintic: a medicine that kills or expels intestinal worms.
Antioxidant: chemical compounds that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.
Apex: the highest point; the vertex.
Apical: of, relating to, located at, or constituting an apex.
Apiculus: the part of a spore which attaches to the sterigmata at the end of a basidium.
Apothecium (pl. Apothecia): a cup-shaped ascoma in which the hymenium is exposed at maturity.
Applanate: pressed or flattened.
Arcuate (gill descriptor): with a concave edge, like an arc.
Areolate: having division into small areas.
Ascoma: an ascocarp having the hymenium on a broad disklike receptacle.
Ascomycetes: a group of fungi that have in common that they produce their sexual spores inside specialized cells (asci), which usually contain eight spores.
Ascospore: a fungus spore produced following a sexual process and developed within a within an often tubular, microscopic sac-like structure.
Aseptate: used to describe a mycelium where the hyphae do not have septa.
Aseptic: sterile conditions, with no unwanted organisms present.
Astringent: a generic term for a locally-acting substance that precipitates surface proteins on the skin and mucous membranes.
Autoclave: a container, the contents of which can be heated up to 121°C.
Azoxycyano: a chemical moeity: with the general formula R-N=N-CN ; found in the antibiotic calvatic acid.
Ballistospory: the ability to launch spores into the air.
Basidiomycetes: a group of fungi which produce their spores externally on so-called basidia. Often four spores are produced per basidium. Many basidiomycetes show clamp-connections on their hyphae, ascomycetes never do.
Basidium (pl. basidia): a unique fertile cell, club-like in form, in which meiosis occurs and by which sexual spores are produced.
Basidiocarp: the fruiting body of fungi that reproduce through basidia.
Brown rot: a type of wood decay caused by fungi that can degrade cellulose and hemicellulose, but not the darker-colored lignin. The resultant rot has a brown color and a cubical structure, as shown below:
Bulbous: resembling a bulb especially in roundness.
Caespitose: growing in small dense clumps or tufts.
Calcareous: containing a high proportion of calcium carbonate.
Capillitium: a network of threadlike tubes or filaments in which spores are embedded.
Capitate: with a well-formed head.
Cellulose: an organic compound in wood, straw, etc. Cellulose is used as raw material for paper. Cotton waste contains high amounts of cellulose, sawdust contains cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.
Ceramides: biological molecules that are the cleavage products of sphingolipids. They are involved in various signal transduction pathways.
Cerebroside: a sugar derivative of a ceramide in which the carbohydrate is attached to the primary alcohol of the sphingoid base.
Ciliate: with hairs around the edge.
Clamp connections: small semicircular branches at the septum on hyphae of many, but not all basidiomycetes.
Class: in taxonomy, the usual major subdivision of a phylum or division in the classification of organisms, usually consisting of several orders; ranking below a phylum or division and above an order.
Coalescent: joined together.
Compost: a mixture of decomposed vegetable matter used to promote the growth of garden plants.
Conical: shaped liked cone.
Context: the flesh of a fungus.
Convex (cap shape descriptor): curving or bulging outward.
Coprophilous: living or growing on excrement.
Coralloid: highly branched, shaped like a coral.
Coriaceous: having a texture like leather.
Crenate: having a edge with rounded teeth.
Crenulate: having a edge with very small, low, rounded teeth.
Crowded (gill descriptor): lying very close together.
Cupulate: shaped like a cup.
Culture: the growing of living organisms on an artificial medium, for example, on containing nutritional chemicals.
Cytotoxic: toxic to cells, causing cell death.
Decoction: a herbal preparation where the mushroom material is boiled in water and reduced to make a concentrated extract. Useful for extracting the medicinal components in most polypores that have a tough or woody skin
Deciduous: “temporary” or “tending to fall off”.
Decurrent: extending down along the stem.
Deflexed: bent or turned abruptly downward.
Deliquesce: to liquify or dissolve with age.
Dentate: with teeth.
Denticulate: with small teeth.
Detumescence: the reduction of congestion and swelling.
Diaphragm: a membranous part that divides or separates.
Dichloromethane: a widely-used organic solvent with the chemical formula CH2Cl2.
Dimidiate: semicircular in outline, viewed from above.
Disk-diffusion method: an antimicrobial susceptibility test that uses filter paper discs containing known concentrations of antimicrobial agents on agar plates. Clear zones of inhibition appear around discs with antibiotics that are inhibitory for the bacterium.
DMSO: a polar, aprotic (ie., neutral pH) solvent that dissolves both polar and nonpolar compounds.
Dry (cap surface descriptor): devoid of any inherent gelatinous material.
Ectomycorhhizae: a type of mycorrhiza composed of a fungus sheath around the outside of root tips, with individual hyphae penetrating between the cortical cells of the root to absorb photosynthates.
Effused-reflexed: stretched out over the substratum but turned up over the edge to make a cap.
Ehrlich solid cancer: an experimental non-metastasizing mouse tumor model.
Ellipsoid: shaped liked an oval.
Elliptical: of, relating to, or having the shape of an ellipse.
Emarginate (gill descriptor): having a notch near the stem; see sinuate.
Endoperidium: the inner of the two layers into which the peridium is divided.
Endothelial: pertaining to the endothelium, the layer of flat cells lining the closed spaces of the body (eg., the inside of blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, the heart, and body cavities).
Entire (gill or cap margin descriptor): a straight, smooth and even edge.
Entomogenous: parasitizing insects.
Epigenous (epigeal): a mushroom with a fruiting body above ground; contrast with hypogeous (hypogeal).
Equal: (a stem descriptor) having the same diameter throughout.
Ergothioneine: a fungal metabolite (C9H15N3O2S) derived from the amino acid histidine, with antioxidant activity.
Erythrocytes: a cell that contains hemoglobin and can carry oxygen in the body; also called a red blood cell.
Evanescent: of short duration.
Exoperidium: the outer of the two layers into which the peridium is divided.
Extract: a concentrated preparation of the essential bioactive constituents of a mushroom.
Family: in taxonomy, the usual major subdivision of an order or suborder in the classification of plants, animals, fungi, etc., usually consisting of several genera.
Farinaceous: smelling like meal (grain), raw potatoes or raw cucumbers.
Fasciculate: in small group or bundles.
Fibril: a small slender fiber or filament.
Fibrillose: covered in fibrils.
Fimbriate: fringed with delicate hair-like projections (fimbriae).
Flabelliform: shaped like a fan.
Flavonoid: a class of organic compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms that have diverse beneficial biochemical and antioxidant effects.
Flexuous (stem descriptor): winding from side to side.
Floccose: covered with tufts of soft hair.
Floccules: a small, loosely held mass or aggregate of fine particles, resembling a tuft of wool.
Flush: the simultaneous sudden development of many fruiting bodies.
Friable: easily broken into small fragments, crumbled, or reduced to powder.
Fruit body: in fungi, the fruit body is the visible part of the fungus which bears spores.
Fruiting: the formation of mushrooms by mycelia in its reproductive stage.
Fugacious: passing away quickly; evanescent.
Furfuraceous: made of, or covered with scaly particles. See also scurfy.
Gasterocarp: a fruiting body of a species in gasteromycetes, a subgroup of the class Basidiomycetes.
Genus (pl. genera): in taxonomy, a group of organisms ranking above a species and below a family. The names of genera, like those of species, are written in italics.
Geotrichum: red lipstick mold Sporendonema sp.
GC/MS: Gas Chromatography coupled to Mass Spectroscopy, an analytical technique often used to separate and identify compounds in a test sample.
Gills: the radially arranged, vertical plates below the cap of a mushroom on which spores are formed.
Glabrous: having no hairs; smooth.
Gleba: the mass of spore-bearing tissue inside a puffball, truffle or their relatives.
Globose: having the shape of a sphere or ball.
Glutinous: sticky, having the properties of glue.
Granulose (surface descriptor): covered with small particles.
Gregarious: growing in companies or groups, but not joined together.
Guttate: spotted, as if discolored by drops.
Hemagglutination: the agglutination of red blood cells (erythrocytes).
Hemostasis: the stoppage of bleeding or hemorrhage.
Hippocractic screening: a primary screening model for obtaining information about the pharmacological/toxicological potential of crude plant (or mushroom) extracts. Typically, observations are made of the crude drug-induced effects on rats over a large concentration range to reveal information about the neurotropic, muscle relaxant, anticoagulaanalgesic, diuretic and laxative properties of the crude extract.
Homogenate: a slurry of tissues and cells resulting from mechanical disruption.
Humus: a brown or black organic substance consisting of partially or wholly decayed vegetable or animal matter that provides nutrients for plants and increases the ability of soil to retain water.
Hyaline: something that is translucent or transparent.
Hydro-distillation: a method of extraction where the mushroom material is boiled and the resultant steam is captured, cooled and condensed.
Hydrolysis: a chemical reaction or process in which a chemical compound is broken down by reaction with water.
Hygrophanous: appearing to be water-soaked when wet.
Hymenium: the fruiting surface in fruit bodies of Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes.
Hymenomycetes: one of three major clades of Basidiomycota, containing approximately 20,000 described species.
Hypha (pl. Hyphae, adj. Hyphal): a single strand of mycelium.
Hypogeous (hypogeal): a fungi with a fruiting body below ground; contrast with epigenous (epigeal).
Hypoglycemic: low blood sugar.
IC50: the amount of a substance (drug, chemical, extract, etc.) required to inhibit a biological process by 50%.
Imbricate: having regular overlapping edges; intertwined. An example is the imbricate surface of Sarcodon imbricatus. Indole: the compound 2,3-benzopyrrole; the structural basis of many biologically active substances, such as the neurotransmitter serotonin or the amino acid tryptophan.
Inflexed (cap margin descriptor): turned down.
Intervenose: having veins in the spaces between gills.
Intraperitoneal: the term used when a chemical is contained within or administered through the peritoneum (the thin, transparent membrane that lines the walls of the abdomen).
In vitro: in an artificial environment outside the living organism.
In vivo: inside the living organism.
Involute: with margins rolled inward.
Isoprene: a common synonym for the chemical compound 2-methylbuta-1,3-diene.
Kingdom: in taxonomy, a category of the highest rank, grouping together all forms of life having certain fundamental characteristics in common: in the five-kingdom classification scheme adopted by many biologists, separate kingdoms are assigned to animals (Animalia), plants (Plantae), fungi (Fungi), protozoa and eucaryotic algae (Protista), and bacteria and blue-green algae (Monera).
Lacerate: irregularly cut, or jagged as if torn.
Lactone: in organic chemistry, a molecule that is a cyclic ester. Specifically, it is the condensation product of an alcohol group and a carboxylic acid group in the same molecule.
Lamella (pl. Lamellae): see gills.
Lamellula (pl. Lamellulae): a small gill that extends from the edge of the cap towards the stem.
Lamellate: resembling gills.
Latex: the milky sap present in some mushrooms, especially genus Lactarius.
Lectin: carbohydrate binding proteins or glycoproteins with specific binding sites for sugars.
Leucoagaricone: a nitrogen-containing compound (γ-glutamyl-N´-4-(hydroxy)phenylhydrazine) found in Agaricus xanthodermus.
Leukocytes: cells of the immune system that defend the body against foreign dieases and materials; also known as white blood cells.
Lignin: a difficult-to-degrade organic compound in wood, straw, etc.
Lipid: any of a group of organic compounds, including the fats, oils, waxes, sterols, and triglycerides, that are insoluble in water but soluble in nonpolar organic solvents, are oily to the touch, and together with carbohydrates and proteins constitute the principal structural material of living cells.
Locule: a cavity.
Macrophage: a type of white blood cell that surrounds and kills microorganisms, removes dead cells, and stimulates the action of other immune system cells.
Margin: an edge and the area immediately adjacent to it.
Marmorate: having streaks or patterns resembling marble.
Melzer’s Reagent: a reagent (I2KI, or potassium iodide) used to determine whether starch is present in or on a structure. See amyloid.
Membranous: relating to, made of, or similar to a membrane.
Mesoperidium: the middle layer of a 3-layered peridium. See also endoperidium and exoperidium.
Microscopically: too small to be seen by the unaided eye but large enough to be studied under a microscope.
Mitogen: a chemical that promotes cell division (mitosis).
Monophyletic: in phylogenetics, a group is monophyletic if it consists of an inferred common ancestor and all its descendants.
Monosaccharide: simple sugars that cannot be broken down (hydrolyzed) into smaller components. Examples include glucose and fructose.
Muscarine: a toxin found in certain mushrooms, particularly in Inocybe and Clitocybe species.
Mycelia (pl. mycelium): the collective network of hyphae that form the vegetative body of the fungus.
Mycoglycolipids: families of glycosphingolipids containing inositol phosphate found in fungi.
Mycology: the study of fungi.
Mycorrhiza: a symbiotic relationship between fungi and the roots of certain plants (eg. conifers, beeches, orchids).
Necrotrophic: feeding on dead tissue.
Neutraceutical: a food that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease.
Norcaperatic acid: also known as α-tetradecylcitric acid, a toxic compound found in Gomphus floccosus.
Obovate: shaped like an egg (ovoid), with the broad extremity located away from the base.
Ochraceous: having a dull yellow color.
OLETF rat strain: a genetically manipulated animal model of spontaneous non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and an impaired glucose tolerance following intra-peritoneal glucose administration and possess many similarities with human type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Olivaceous: olive-green in color.
Order: in taxonomy, the usual major subdivision of a class or subclass in the classification of organisms, consisting of several families; ranking above a family and below a class.
Ovoid: shaped like a egg.
Oxylipin: lipid derivatives formed by the oxidation of fatty acids.
Partial veil: a tissue joining the margin of the cap to the stem during development of the mushroom. Remnants may appear as an appendiculate margin on the cap, or as an annulus on the stem. Partial veils may be of varying thickness and/or texture, depending on the species of mushroom. See veil.
Pasteurization: heat treatment applied to a substrate to destroy unwanted organisms but keeping favorable ones alive.
Pathogen: a microorganism that causes disease.
PDCAAS: Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score, a method of evaluating protein quality of a mushroom based on the amino acid requirements of humans.
Peptide: a molecule consisting of two or more amino acids.
Peridium: the outer layer of the spore-bearing organ in many fungi.
Perforatorium: a pronounced umbo or papilla thought to play a role during the penetration of the soil. Seen in Termitomyces spp.
Petri dish: a round glass or plastic dish with a cover to observe the growth of microscopic organisms. The dishes are filled with sterile growth medium (or sterilized after they have been filled). Used to grow the mycelium which will inoculate mother spawn.
pH: a measure to describe the acidity of a medium. pH 7 is neutral; higher means basic (alkaline), lower means acidic. Specifically, it is the inverse log of the hydrogen ion concentration.
Phenolic: a class of organic phytochemical with strong antioxidant activity.
Phylogenetics: the systematic study of organism relationships based on evolutionary similarities and differences.
Phylum: in taxonomy, the primary subdivision of a taxonomic kingdom, grouping together all classes of organisms that have the same body plan; ranking next above a class.
Pileus (pl. Pilei): the cap-like structure that bears the hymenium.
Pinhead: a term used to describe a very young mushroom when the cap has the size of a pin.
Papillose: covered with or resembling papillae, a nipple-like anatomical structure.
Plano-convex: slighty convex.
Plicate: folded into pleats.
Pocket rot: a type of wood rot where the decay appears as cavities in the afflicted wood. Thanks to Natural Resources Canada for the following explanatory picture:
Polypore: general name for a member of a group of edible fungi which have tubes rather than gills under their caps; technically, a member of the family Polyporaceae.
Polysaccharide: a polymer of monosaccharides joined together by glycosidic bonds.
Poroid: having pores.
Primordia (pl. Primordium): the initial fruiting body.
Prostaglandin: a 20-carbon lipid compound derived from fatty acids with important function in animal physiology.
Pseudorrhiza: a subterranean elongation of the stem.
Pruinose: having a bloom or powder on a surface.
Pulverulent: made of, covered with, or crumbling to fine powder or dust.
Pure culture: an isolated culture of a microorganism without any other microorganisms. An essential component of spawn production.
Pustulate: covered with blister-like spots.
Pyriform: shaped like a pear.
Quinone: a member of a class of organic compounds that are biologically important as coenzymes, hydrogen acceptors, or vitamins.
Recurved: turned downward or backward.
Reflexed: turned up or back.
Relative humidity: the percentage of moisture in the air compared to the maximal amount that the air can hold at that temperature and pressure.
Repand (cap descriptor): hacing a wavy edge that is turned back.
Resupinate: inverted, or appearing to be turned upside down.
Reticulate: marked with lines or grooves to have the appearance of a net or network.
Rhizhoid: small branching hyphae that help anchor the fungus.
Rimose: having a surface covered with cracks, fissures, or crevices.
Rugulose: delicately wrinkled.
Saprobic: living on dead or decaying organic matter.
Sarcoma 180: a cell line of mouse cancer cells derived from a soft tissue tumor of a Swiss mouse; known for its aggressiveness after transplantation, causing mortality in a time span of weeks to months.
Sclerotium (pl. Sclerotia): a small, hard, multicellular, resting body which can germinate to produce vegetative or reproductive structures.
Scurfy: coated with a loose scaly crust. See also furfuraceous.
Seceding (gill descriptor): the attachment to the stem pulling away in age (ie., adnate→free).
Segmentiform (gill descriptor): a gill having a straight edge except for a concave section attached to the flesh.
Septum (pl. Septa, adj. Septal): a cell-dividing wall in a hypha or a spore.
Serrate (gill descriptor): edged with teeth, like a saw.
Serrulate (gill descriptor): edged with small teeth.
Sesquiterpene: hydrocarbons (terpenes) with 15 carbon atoms. See Cyberlipid for more details.
Sessile: without a stem.
Sinuate (gill descriptor): notched at the proximal end at the junction with the stem.
Slant: a test tube with growth medium, which has been sterilized and slanted to increase the surface area.
Spathulate: shaped like spoon.
Spawn: the pure culture of mycelium on grain, sawdust, etc., used to inoculate the final substrate.
Spawn run: the vegetative growth period of the mycelium after spawning the substrate.
Species complex: A monophyletic group of similar species that nevertheless do not differ enough from others in the genus to warrant separation at the level of genus or subgenus.
Splenocyte: cells present in the spleen (including T cells, B cells, macrophages, etc.) that are responsible for promoting the immune response.
Spore: a minute propagative unit functioning as a seed, but differing from it in that a spore does not contain a preformed embryo.
Sporocarp: typically a hypogeous fruiting body containing either zygospores, sporangia, or chlamidiospores.
Sporophore: a spore-bearing structure.
Sporulation: to produce or release spores.
Squamose: having scales.
Squamulose: having small scales.
Stellate: shaped like a star.
Stereoisomerism: isomerism created by differences in the spatial arrangement of atoms in a molecule.
Sterile conditions: see aseptic.
Steroid: a terpenoid lipid characterized by a carbon skeleton with four fused rings.
Stipe: the stalk or stem of a mushroom.
Stipitate: with a stipe.
Striate: marked by stripes, grooves, or ridges.
Striatulate: marked by small lines, grooves or ridges.
Strigose: having bristle-like coarse hairs.
Sub-: a modifier, that when at the beginning of a mushroom descriptor, imparts the meaning of ‘almost’ or ‘somewhat’.
Subclavate: somewhat club-shaped.
Subdecurrent: attached to and running downward along a stem or stipe, but curving inward just before the attachment point.
Subglobose: almost globe-shaped.
Synanamorph: two or more distinct anatomic forms (anamorphs) produced by one fungus.
Taxonomy: the science dealing with the description, identification, naming, and classification of organisms.
Teleomorph: a form based on a sexual state.
Terpene: a class of molecules derived biosynthetically from isoprene, with the genera molecular formula (C2H5)n, where n is the number of isoprene units.
Thermophilic: requiring high temperatures for normal development, like certain bacteria.
Thin-layer chromatography: an analytical technique for separating dissolved chemical substances by virtue of their differing migration over glass plates or plastic sheets coated with a thin layer of finely ground absorbent, such as silica gel.
Tincture: a medicinal extract prepared by soaking the herb in alcohol or alcohol-containing liquid.
Tissue culture: a culture made from the tissue of a young and healthy mushroom. The mycelium emerging from the tissue will have the same genetic properties as the mushroom from which the tissue was derived.
Tomentose: covered with short, dense, matted hairs.
Transvenose: flat surfaced with vein-like ridges.
Triterpene: a class of terpenes based on 6 isoprene units and having the general molecular formula C30H48.
Troop: a group of fruiting bodies from one mycelium.
Tufts: a short cluster of elongated strands, as of yarn, hair, or grass, attached at the base or growing close together.
Umbilicate: having a central mark or depression resembling a navel.
Umbo: a knoblike protuberance arising from a surface.
Undulate: having a wavy border or form.
Veil: a thin membrane covering the gills during the development of the mushroom. See also annulus.
Velutinous: having a layer of short, fine hairs, like velvet.
Ventricose: being inflated, swollen, or distended, especially on one side.
Verrucose: having small rounded bumps that resemble warts.
Violaceous: with a purple color similar to violets.
Viscid: covered with a sticky or clammy coating.
White rot: a type of wood decay caused by fungi that have enzymes capable of degrading cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin – complex organix molecules that are the main components of wood cells. The resulting rot is white-colored, without any obvious structure.
Zonate: having concentric rings, often forming alternative pale and darker zones.