• Students at South Peak

    Marsh - Billings - Rockefeller

    National Historical Park Vermont

Mushrooms and Other Fungi

Dead Man's Fingers fungus

Dead Man's Fingers fungus (Xylaria polymorpha)

K Jones

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.

Did You Know?

Black and white Carleton Watkins photograph, showing Yosemite's massive granite Cathedral Rock. Billings Family Archives.

Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. wrote to George Perkins Marsh in 1857, asking his advice on promoting "free soil" settlement in Texas to challenge the westward expansion of slavery. Strongly anti-slavery, both men would also champion land stewardship and public access to places like Yosemite Valley.