Saturday, October 31, 2020

Weird Fungi - 2

 It's Hallowe'en..... spooks are abroad and the woods are filled with scary things....

One of them starts with what looks like an egg pushing up through the ground:

Barely 2" across, it seems to have a slightly crinkled surface. It's white, more or less, and dry-looking. It doesn't change for several weeks. Eventually, one day, it begins to grow:

The top splits and an odd little white process appears. The surface has darkened and split. More days go by. It's getting cold at night, but underground much is happening. Our Egg is preparing itself for a sudden burst of growth:

The Egg splits completely open and a spongy white stalk with a slimy brownish-greenish knob on top elongates:

Unlike practically every other plant (or fungus) in the woods, it grows in an ominous curve. Quickly, almost overnight, it reaches it's full growth:

Growing horizontally across the ground, surrounded by fallen leaves and twigs, our weird Fungus #2 turns out to be a Stinkhorn.

Stinkhorns are so-called because, well, because they stink. Get your sniffer close to the 'knob' and you'll wish you hadn't! The smell, very unpleasant to us humans, attracts flies. The flies pick up spores from the slimy top and carry them to new locations, thus spreading the fungus around. The spores are produced in huge numbers and form the slimy surface of the 'knob'. The 'Egg' was an early stage in the fruiting body's development and, when cut open, shows the eventual structure in embryonic form. It is fairly common, growing on rotting logs or wood chips.

And yes, the man who named it agreed with what I'm sure you are thinking! He named the genus Phallus, and since his name was Ravenel, it's now Phallus Ravenelii, that is, Ravenel's Phallus

His response to this bit of taxonomic teasing has not been recorded.

Have a Happy, Safe, and Spooky Hallowe'en!

Thursday, October 29, 2020


 Mind you, not a lot of it!

Just a dusting so far, but it's coming! 

I guess Hallowe'en is the right time to scare us with that news! Have a good weekend; stay safe!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Weird Fungi - 1

 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!