The fruit body of a mushroom, formally known as a basidocarp, is only the reproductive organ of the greater mushroom organism. Because it is the only part of the mushroom which is externally visible and the only part which is consumed, it is commonly considered to be the mushroom itself.
Stages of development
- Primordium A primordium, often referred to as a knot, is the first point at which the development of a fruit body is visible to the naked eye. It appears to be a balling up or "knot" of mycelium strands.
- Pin A pin is the stage of growth where the cap of the developing mushroom can first be differentiated from the stipe. At this stage, the fruit body is very susceptible to damage and environmental changes. In adverse conditions, many pins will become abort.
- Maturity When a fruit body is mature, it will grow in size rapidly and be resilient to environmental conditions. At the end of maturity, most fruit bodies begin to release spores.
Parts of a fruit body
In general, fruit bodies consists of three major sections, the stem, vale and cap.
- Cap The cap is the top part of the fruit body which which bears the reproductive tissue. In most species, the cap is home to an array of gills, the part of the mushroom which produces and releases spores.
- Stipe The stipe is the stem or stalk of a growing mushroom. Some species have long, pronounced stems (see [[Psilocybe cubensis, Lentinula edodes, Amanita Mascaria, etc) while others have very little or no stem (see Pleurotus ostreatus, Pleurotus columbinus etc).
- Veil In some species, the edges of the cap are joined to the stipe when the fruit body is young. As the mushroom grows larger, the cap spreads and the edges tear away, often leaving a very thin veil of material hanging from the stem.
Initiating fruit body growth
After a substrate is fully colonized, fruiting can be induced. In most climates, it is common to build a fruiting chamber in order to provide the correct fruiting conditions for the colonized substrate mycelium to bear fruit bodies. These fruiting conditions often include light, fresh air, proper humidity, and space for mushrooms to grow.