Sporocarp (fungi)

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In fungi, the sporocarp (also known as fruiting 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.

The sporocarp of a basidiomycete is known as a basidiocarp, while the fruiting body of an ascomycete is known as an ascocarp. A significant range of different shapes and morphologies is 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 ones 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. Truffles evolutionarily disposed with ability to disperse their spores via air currents, instead opting for animal consumption and subsequent dispersal of their spores.

In amateur mushroom hunting, and to a large degree in academic mycology as well, identification of higher fungi is based on the features of the sporocarp.

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