Any of a large and diverse phylum of fungi (kingdom Fungi), including jelly and shelf, or bracket, fungi; mushrooms, puffballs, and stinkhorns; and the rusts and smuts. The club-shaped, spore-bearing organ (basidium) is borne on a usually large and conspicuous fruiting body. Basidiomycota includes bird's-nest fungi, whose hollow fruiting bodies resemble nests containing eggs. Species of the subphylum Pucciniomycotina are parasitic on higher plants, particularly azaleas and rhododendrons. Jelly fungi are so called because they have jellylike, often colourful, fruiting bodies. See also fungus.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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