There are two major groups within the Fungi. The ascomycetes and the basidiomycetes, which are seperated by the way they produce their spores. Spores are like the ‘seed’ of fungi, containing the genetic information from both parents which will then grow into a new fungi. In the macrofungi, which are the ones I chase about the forests, the bit that you see is the fruiting body, which is responsible for bearing the spores and letting the spores go out into the world to get their own mortgages and battle through life.
Remember, everytime you pluck a fungi from the forest you are murdering all the fungi babies… the point being, don’t pick them all or kick them around.
Anyway, basidiomycetes encompass pretty much all the ‘mushroom’ looking fungi, the ones with gills, but there are also a bunch of them that don’t have gills, and not all of them look very ‘mushroomy’. They have their own section, you can find it by the link to the right. Basidiomycetes have their spores born on tiny little club shaped cells called basidia, and they ususally have four, but like with everything else in nature that can differ as can their shape. Unless you whip out a microscope then you can’t see these features.
I don’t just make all this stuff up either. All information about fungi has come from numerous sources, the two biggest of which are mycologists, Genevieve Gates and David Ratkowsky via themselves and their ‘Field Guide to Tasmanian Fungi’, as well as ‘A Field Guide to Australian Fungi’ by Bruce Fuhrer.