Thursday, April 30, 2009


As the weather starts to heat up here, it's nice to think about cooler climes. Perhaps not quick as cool as Antarctica, but it's a nice segue to this item. Antarctica has been thought to be fungus-free, as there is little available water or plant life to feed them. But Dr. Bob Blanchette has found some new wood-decay fungi that are feeding on Scott's huts. Amazing, eh?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cornell University to return fungal collection to China

In 1937, as the Japanese invaded China during World War II, a Chinese mycologist, educated in the United States, packed up some of the most prized specimens from a national botanic institute in Nanking. He loaded them on oxcarts and had them smuggled them out of the country to his alma mater in the 'States, Cornell University.

Now, these specimens are being repatriated including the rare Lentinus tigrinus, pictured above. (a local species of Lentinus is pictured in the masthead). A neat story you can read all about here. And here's a nice quote about the specimens from Cornell's Herbarium Director Kathie Hodge "To an average person, they look like something you would sweep off your kitchen floor. But under the microscope they're beautiful and exciting and incredibly diverse." How very true.

But of course, because the story is about fungi, it's filed under STRANGE (sigh).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ridiculous, but I'm not sure what to make of it...

More fungal headlines. Today's top story "Mushroom could ruin wedding couples' dreams". Now, I'm not sure what is the most ridiculous thing about this article. The perceived threat to the fungus, the blaming of the fungus, or the eco-hate that the article seems to be fomenting. The author's ignorance is clear. He writes of the 'potential presence of mycelium, a threatened type of lawn fungi'. Mycelium is a growth habit of fungi, not a type of fungus per se. Mycelium is the lattice of microscopic tubes (hyphae) that define the bodies of most fungi (yeasts are the most important exception). The economic downturn has now sunk to pointing fingers at fungi as standing in the way of progress.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Some fungi out there

It's been a wet spring, for sure. And wet weather brings fungi as sure as it brings the wildflowers.
I just found some interesting little harbingers of spring out there recently. Urnula craterium, (Ascomycota, Pezizales, Sarcostromataceae) which was growing just like they said it might. It looked like it might have been growing out of the wood, but it actually grows out of the ground.
Here's a look inside the apothecium, you can see that the cup extends down pretty far in there.

I think I also figured out another one of my mystery fungi, one that I'd seen several months ago. I'd taken photos but didn't quite have a handle on the name. I was thinking Pezizales, or maybe something with some type of Hypocrealean mycoparasitism, but not sure what. I'm thinking this other guy is Humaria hemisphaerica, at least from looking at the picture from Phillips' Mushrooms of North America. That's my best guess thus far, anyway.