I was surprised, amazed, delighted, astonished, gob-smacked to find a fungus I had never seen before but had been wanting to see for a long time, when I was pulling out old Goldenrod stalks this afternoon.
There has been a large plant, or maybe I should say, plantation, of Solidago Altissima at the top of the steps from the driveway to the side door for almost as long as there's been a side door. It's fine until after it blooms, then it is just a big mess and too large for the space it's in. At that point I pull all the stalks, and the following year just as many new ones grow so the patch stays about the same. So that's what I was doing, pulling out stalk after stalk of spent Goldenrod, when I noticed small whitish bumps on the bases of some of the stems.
A quick closer look showed me that the larger bumps were Bird's Nest fungi! Here you see some
of them on one stalk. (I put it on the junipers to make them easier to see).
They are very tiny, only about 1/4" across. And very odd!
To quote Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada: "The fruitbody of a Bird's Nest Fungus looks like a tiny nest with eggs. The 'eggs' (peridioles) are packages of thousands of spores contained within a hard outer wall. ... the eggs are anchored to the side wall by a structure that contains a long, thread-like tail (funiculus), with a sticky base (hapteron). Falling raindrops cause mini-explosions in the cone-shaped cups and the splash propels the eggs out of the cup. Eggs can be shot nearly 2 m away from the cup, and they attach to a suitable substrate by means of the sticky base."
I'd read about them in my mushroom books, but had never seen them. Here are a side view and a bird's-eye (pun intended!) view:
How cool is that!