The New Student's Reference Work/Saprophytes
Saprophytes (săp'rṓ-fītz), plants which are not able to make their own food and do not attack living plants or animals, but obtain their food from decaying bodies or organic products. These plants are not able to make their own food, because they do not contain chlorophyll. They attack dead bodies or body products, and sooner or later all organic matter is attacked and decomposed by them. Were it not for them it is said that “the whole surface of the earth would be covered with a thick deposit of the animal and plant remains of the past thousands of years.” Saprophytes are mostly fungi, but some of the higher plants also adopt this method of obtaining food. See Fungi.