During many of the continuing education classes I teach to real estate professionals, one of the misnomers often conveyed is the assumption that mold is either a plant or an animal. This is an important assumption to sort out because here in the Portland, Oregon and Southern Washington state area, mold seems to be ever present because of the abundant moisture.

So what is mold? First, let’s look at the similarities between plants and mold:

  • Both come in all shapes, sizes (relatively, anyway!), and colors
  • Both have roots
  • Both require water (although plants require water for survival, mold can go dormant, but does require water for proliferation)  

However, this is where the similarities end, materially speaking.  Now, the differences:

  • Plants are automorphs, which means that they use photosynthesis to produce their own food. Meanwhile, mold cannot produce it’s own food because it requires outside organic matter.
  • Structurally, mold and plants differ.  Plants have different cell structure depending on if those cells make up the root, stalk, or leaf, etc.  However, mold is made up of simple cell structure, and therefore does not have different structural components.  
  • Molds are asexual, which means they replicate themselves by ejecting tiny fragments of themselves into the air, which, when combined with moisture and organic material, develop into viable and replicating mold spores. Plants, however, require fertilization and/or pollination in order to replicate.

So if mold isn’t a plant, then it must be an animal, right?  Let’s have a look:

  • Both animals and molds need water for survival. Like plants, animals will die without water. This isn’t true for molds because they simply go dormant, seemingly indefinitely!
  • Animals are complex creatures, with complex cell structures.  But we have already established that molds have simple cell structures.  
  • While both take in organic matter for sustenance, molds have no modal ability, which means they cannot move themselves, but instead, require air or water to spread.

So if molds aren’t plants, and aren’t animals, then what are they?  In 1784 the science community noticed these differences and many more, and concluded that in addition to plants and animals, there is another kingdom called fungi.  Since then, 3 more kingdoms have been added (Eubacteria, Archaebacteria, Protista) and this doesn’t even include viruses, which have yet to be officially classified.

So when you are hiking and someone implies that the mushrooms growing on the downed tree are plants, you know better!

As always, feel free to contact PureSpace by phone or email!