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.)