smiling mushrooms

How Fungi
Get Their Food

One difference between fungi and plants usually found in backyards is that fungi don't photosynthesize -- they don't contain green chlorophyll so they don't use sunlight to produce carbohydrate, their food, by combining carbon dioxide with water. Fungi take their food from their environment in the following ways:

Coprinus sterquilinus
Coprinus sterquilinus
a saprophyte on horse manure

While microscopic fungi may absorb dissolved nutrients from their surroundings directly through their cell walls, nutrients generally enter larger fungi by soaking into -- or diffusing into -- cobwebby strands of root-like hyphae growing through the substrate (dead thing or living thing, such as soil or leaf  litter). You can see what hyphae look like here.