23rd May, 2016
23rd May 2016 Stinkhorns

One of the delights of our garden is the wild and sudden appearance of fungi. Of course there are always fungal cords, moulds, mildews and lichen on barks and leaves and leaf litter, but in the last four months, more than a dozen types of conspicuous fungi have emerged. Having done most of their growing underground, they pop up overnight, in unexpected places, and, if not eaten first by snails, slugs and caterpillars, have often died away within a few days.

Most of these conspicuous fungi take the familiar mushroom form. Some are long-lived cloud ear fungi, and scarlet bracket fungi, growing on rotten timber.  In past years, I’ve also had bird’s nest fungus in the mulch: masses of glued-together cups, each like the calyx of a tiny acorn.

IMAG5342_1One fungus currently growing in the garden looks like a vanilla ice-cream cone with strawberry sauce. In cross-section it has a five centimeter diameter. The white is a porous structure that has hardened, and, after several weeks, the snails have not yet finished it. Perhaps someone can tell me its name.

Another unusual one is the orange phallic Lysurus mokusin. This is a stinkhorn. The spore is the brown gooey ‘gleba’ on its tip, which smells of rotting meat, and attracts flies.

You have to be quick to see the stinkhorn in its prime, because it grows underground, in a white ‘egg’, before sprouting very quickly on its fragile spongy stalk. Left undisturbed, it wilts within a couple of days. But the ones photographed above, which I found this morning, were cut down by brown furry caterpillars within a day. One was eaten while still in its egg. Curiously, the caterpillar ate the stalk and left the gleba, so the work of reproduction goes  on regardless.


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2 thoughts on “Fungi

  1. After reading ‘fungi’ this morning, I went for a walk in the Torrens river park (in Adelaide), and literally everywhere I saw little mounds of dirt and leaves being pushed up by fungi emerging from the ground. Different varieties, at different stages of growth. I’ve never noticed that before! I was amazed. Thank you Andrew.

  2. This is wonderful Andrew. Rufus and I often walk across our street to observe the fungi that bloom in the grass verge after wet weather. We get some beautiful long, orange mushrooms, flatter, darker mushrooms and some squat, little toad-stooly types. It’s great fun to check out what will appear after the rain and how long it will last. I am always surprised when, after drying up and disappearing, they remerge, in the same place, looking very familiar, after some rain. I am equally surprise and a little saddened when this new batch of mushrooms begin to die. I forget, it seems, that they will come again. I ejoy Rufus’ excitment when he spots a new batch and reminds me that we shouldn’t eat the mushrooms we find growing the grass. This leads to a lengthy discussion about good and bad mushrooms. He would be delighted beyond belief to see a fungal bloom that looked like strawberry ice-cream. I will have to tell him about it. Demelza

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