Mushrooms and Other Fungi
Dead Man's Fingers fungus (Xylaria polymorpha)
While fungi, like mushrooms, may look like plants, they are distinct from both plants and animals by mode of nutrition. While animals ingest food and plants make their own through photosynthesis, fungus secrete enzymes to digest surrounding organic matter and then absorb the released nutrients. By decomposing dead or decaying organisms and recycling nutrients, fungi serve an important ecological function. Without this important component dead organisms in the park, like fallen trees, would take much longer to decompose and return their nutrients back into the ecosystem.