reproductive structure of a fungus. The presence of certain species may indicate decay in a tree (see conk and bracket).
The sporocarp (also known as fruiting body, fruit body or fruitbody) of fungi is a multicellular structure on which spore-producing structures, such as basidia or asci, are borne. The fruitbody is part of the sexual phase of a fungal life cycle, while the rest of the life cycle is characterized by vegetative mycelial growth and asexual spore production.
The sporocarp of a basidiomycete is known as a basidiocarp or basidiome, while the fruitbody of an ascomycete is known as an ascocarp. Many shapes and morphologies are found in both basidiocarps and ascocarps; these features play an important role in the identification and taxonomy of fungi.
Fruitbodies are termed epigeous if they grow on the ground, while those that grow underground are hypogeous. Epigeous sporocarps that are visible to the naked eye, especially fruitbodies of a more or less agaricoid morphology, are often called mushrooms. Epigeous sporocarps have mycelia that extend underground far beyond the mother sporocarp. There is a wider distribution of mycelia underground than sporocarps above ground. Hypogeous fungi are usually called truffles or false truffles. There is evidence that hypogeous fungi evolved from epigeous fungi. During their evolution, truffles lost the ability to disperse their spores by air currents, and propagate instead by animal consumption and subsequent defecation.
The largest known fruitbody is a specimen of Phellinus ellipsoideus (formerly Fomitiporia ellipsoidea) found on Hainan Island, part of China. It measures up to 10.85 metres (35 ft 7 in) in length and is estimated to weigh between 450 and 760 kilograms (990 and 1,680 lb).