The photos and descriptions in this section of the FUNGIKINGDOM website depict many of the most commonly found macrofungi found in the northeast of the North American continent, as well as some unusual finds. Actually, many of the included fungi are common throughout the U.S. and Canada, but especially in the region extending from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains.

Macro-fungi are traditionally divided into two main divisions: the Ascomycota and the Basidiomycota

Ascomycetes are fungi that produce ascospores within elongated tubular sacs called asci that are situated in the body of the fungus, rather than from the underside of the fruiting body as with gilled or pored mushrooms. With exceptions, most asci contain 8 ascospores each. When their spores are mature, they are forcibly ejected from the fruiting body. There are two main kinds of ascomycetes: those that are cup-shaped and those that are flask shaped. Many ascos are quite small and beautiful such as the ‘Eyelash Cup’ (Scutellinia scutellata). Although there are also some basidiomycete lichens, ascomycetes are the dominant associate of lichens. Thus lichens are considered members of the fungi kingdom. In fact lichens are usually ascofungi that have had a long term relationship with an algae, along with bacteria and in some cases, a virus. 

Ascomycota are at work throughout the year, but larger ones appear in spring and can be found on wood, soil, leaves and other substrates. There are many more ascomycetes than basidiomycetes, but most are too small to be seen without a microscope. They are believed to be evolutionarily older than the macro-fungi in the Basidiomycota. 

The basidiomycota have reproductive spores that are enclosed within club-shaped sacs called basidia. Each basidium typically has four spores (There are exceptions). Tiny projections on the end of each basidium are called sterigmata. As spores mature they are ejected from the sterigmata and are wafted away in air currents. Most mushroom collectors tend to focus more on fungi in the basidiomycota than fungi in the ascomycota - in part because - with the exception of choice edible species of morels, truffles and the ‘lobster mushroom’, they are usually more charismatic and more noticeable during the course of a growing season. 

Beyond these two main divisions, mycologists have organized fungi into orders, families, genera and speciesWithin each of the two main divisions there are numerous orders. The name of each order ends in the letters ‘-ales’.  Within each order there is one or more likely several families. The name of each family ends in the letters ‘-aceae'. Within each family there are between one and numerous genera. Genera end in the letters ‘-ius’. Within each genera there may be one or more typically numerous species.