Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Groundbreaking Fungi

In the Q&A section of the January BBC Wildlife magazine there is a piece about the 'power' different fungi can exert when the fruiting bodies are developing. They take up water which enables amazing pressures to develop. Mushrooms can generate 10lbs per square inch. The common stinkhorn can expand rapidly and can lift over 100 kg (that's what it says). In 1991 a potato earthball pushed its way onto a tennis court through a layer of fly ash, 75mm of packed gravel and 20mm of rolled tarmac. And I bet some spotty herbert came along and kicked it away before it ripened!

Got me thinking about fungi again. I now have a book (see previous post!) and so I went back over some of the snaps from last autumn to see what I had. It's not so easy retrospectively, as they do tend to look a bit like each other, and you can't look underneath a picture to check the colour of the gills!
A few were interesting though:
I had some snaps of earthballs, although theses weren't lifting paving slabs.

The hoof fungus has different forms according to it's host. No doubting that this one blends in with the birch it is growing on.

This is a Lycoperdon species - better known as a puffball. They were a bit soggy, so the spores weren't so much exploding out as sort of slopping. The childish part of my humour was tickled last year when someone on a tv programme pointed out that the latin name translates as 'wolf's fart'.

And it turned out that my oddity under a pine tree at work was a wood cauliflower (not the easiest thing to photograph).

About 10" across some spotty herbert had kicked it over, but it was still impressive. Mind you my book says they can be up to 14kg in weight! Although the distribution is described as 'widespread throughout temperate N. Europe' it also says they are 'rare', which makes me feel chuffed for some reason (it's not as though I tracked it, waited patiently in a hide or anything- it was just there when I escaped for some fresh air). It's just nice to collect something unusual.

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