Sunday, January 03, 2010

Look Around -- Life is Amazing!


Sometimes the most incredible things are to be found in the least impressive places. Robb and I were clambering around in some rotting, long-fallen trees in the Oakland Hills, and we found all of these freaky, wonderful, tiny fungi.

I know that the first picture shows a bunch of Bird's Nest Mushrooms. My sister and I saw these (or things just like this) in France last winter.

Look on th ebottom edge of the wood, and you'll see "eggs" inside of "nests." The "eggs"" are actually teeny-tiny puffballs, that hold mushroom spores. The "nests" are about a quarter of an inch across, so you can imagine the size of those puffballs. Incredible.

This, I think, is some kind of Cup Fungus. It was about an inch across. Robb spotted about three of these, all on rotting wood.

This may win the prize for Freakiest Find.

Each of these little things were less than 2mm across. I have no idea what they are.

I think that unless I had really had my eyes open, I would never, in a million years, have noticed these things.

And that's one of the things that's opened up for me since Robb's accident. I've always noticed the odd and unusual (I'm a champion four-leaf-clover finder). But since we walk as a slower pace than we used to, I get the time to see the things I might have rushed past, once upon a time.

I just heard from the experts! The mystery fungus is Sphaerobolus stellatus, The Cannonball or Artillery Fungus. Apparently, this tiny mushroom shoots its reproductive spores as far as fourteen feet. Not bad for a mushroom that's smaller than a quarter of an inch!

If you look closely at the photos, some of the little crown-shaped cups have a dark round shape inside of them. That's the un-ejected packet of spores. The mushroom hurls this by turning itself inside-out. The mushrooms in the photos that have a pale cap have ejected their spores. (I think the best analogy is turning a sock inside out.)


Kristen said...

For a moment I thought those were land barnacles. Then I remembered that, to my knowledge, those don't exist.

Anonymous said...

I just saw an episode of Globetrekker on TV (we are stuck inside with 11 degree weather) where this gal traveled all across California. She took a trip to see the Redwoods- When ever you guys feel up to a roadtrip, I suggest you head on over and see the Giant Redwoods. I wonder what sort of mushrooms grow on those fallen monster trees? The mushrooms would probably be so big they would swallow you whole!

I always tell people if they don't feel propoundly moved while viewing those ancient lifeforms, there is something wrong with them...


Sarcasmo A/Q said...

My 9 1/2 year old would have me inform you that she has found "like 60 or somethin'". I believe she has found 52. Last summer I watched her walk along Chattanooga TN's riverwalk talking about stuff and looking in the grass as she walked. She nearly tripped over her own feet doubling back to bend over and grab a 4-leaf clover out of a large patch of clover. HOW she spotted it is uncanny. She does this regularly. Last spring she brought in 7 4-leaf clovers right before I told her I was going to mow. Future mushroom hunter. Her new trail name is 4 leaf. It was "RefleKtor" but that's another story.

Anonymous said...

I just got an idea! Do you guys still do letterboxing? I bet that a small print about mushrooms would be a great addition to a letterboxers book, as well as having it be buried nearby a magnificant mushroom would be a wonderful discovery for everyone involved.



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