Saturday, October 18, 2008

Spooky things #2

Bet you can't guess what this is.

Actually, if you happen to be a mycologist you'll probably be jumping up and down in your seat right now, as this is an earthstar - aka Geastrum triplex (probably - there are lots of different types). It's also really quite rare - particularly if it's found in Surrey, as this one was, in the garden of one of my clients.

If you look at it from the top, you can see a little better why it got its name. This isn't actually a very good specimen - you can see a better one here - but then this one has been dug up and passed around loads of different people before I got my hands on it, so it's a little weary.

It's actually the second earthstar I've seen in this garden: the first one, last year, was twice the size and caused all sorts of excitement as first of all, nobody knew what it was, and then someone asked a professor about it and he got very excited and took it to Kew. Turns out it's the only known site for an earthstar in Surrey - and the first specimen is now at Kew's fungal herbarium. Quite something - there was even a little article about it in a learned tome somewhere.

I just think it's pretty. And not a little spooky.


Esther Montgomery said...

I think it is genuinely pretty too and would like to know more about it.

Esther Montgomery

garden girl said...

What a beautiful little fungi. I'd never heard of them before. I learn so much reading garden blogs!

The Constant Gardener said...

isn't it great? and the hippy in me just loves that name...

if you want to read more about it there's a great page here. Apparently it's related to puffballs. And it can walk...

Yet more evidence that fungi are from outer space!! :D

emmat said...

i showed a photo on my phone to a fungi expert on the weekend and he went "Hmm, looks to me like... honey fungus."

It's so unusual to find something that's actually rare... when we went on the Kew science briefing they took us round mycology and they said it had ben the best year yet for new species and new sightings.

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