Tagged: mycotroph

organisms that feed on fungi

Tremella mesenterica 0

#059 Tremella mesenterica, Witch’s Butter

One day as you check your mailbox you notice a yellow smear on the entrance to your house (for example a wooden gate). After retrieving your mail, you take a closer look and see that it’s a yellow gelatinous lobed blob – Witch’s Butter! Oh no, you think, I’ve been hexed by a witch! Knowing just what to do, you run back to the house, collect a few straight pins, and stab them through the offending substance to drain its juices and kill the spell. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work very well for two reasons. First, this blob is actually the jelly fungus Tremella mesenterica. Like all jelly fungi, it is specifically designed to survive repeated dehydration and rehydration. Second, the main body of the fungus is still living inside the wood; unless you replace the wood, the mushroom will probably reappear in the same place!

Entoloma abortivum with aborted fruitbody and honey mushrooms 0

#199: Entoloma abortivum, The Aborting Entoloma

Entoloma abortivum is a fascinating mushroom. The mushroom produces two forms of fruitbody: an agaric form that is an umbrella-like gilled mushroom and a “carpophoroid” (mycology-speak for “aborted”) form that looks like an oddly-shaped puffball. Both of these forms are usually found near honey mushrooms (Armillaria spp.) or in places honey mushrooms are known to grow. It turns out that E. abortivum is parasitic or partially parasitic on honey mushrooms; the aborted forms are actually the mycelium of E. abortivum attacking Armillaria mushrooms. Both the agaric and aborted forms are edible, although you need to be cautious when collecting Entoloma species.

Tolypocladium ophioglossoides and Elaphomyces truffle 1

#197: Tolypocladium ophioglossoides, The Golden Thread Cordyceps

Tolypocladium ophioglossoides (also called Cordyceps ophioglossoides and Elaphocordyceps ophioglossoides) is a fun little mushroom to find, but you have to be paying attention to enjoy it. Unlike most fungi that were placed in Cordyceps, which were insect parasites, T. ophioglossoides – commonly known as the “Golden Thread Cordyceps” (even though it is no longer in that genus) – attacks other fungi. Specifically, it parasitizes truffles in the genus Elaphomyces. If you can spot this tiny brown/black mushroom, make sure to dig it up carefully and follow the golden thread that attaches the mushroom to its truffle host.

Hypomyces chrysospermus 1

#158: Hypomyces chrysospermus, the Bolete Eater

Occasionally, you encounter something that has the stature and shape of a bolete but is completely smooth underneath its cap. “What can this be?” you ask. “No crust fungi are this fleshy or have such a well-defined cap and stem.” It turns out that you did find a bolete, only it is being parasitized by another fungus! Hypomyces chrysospermus is a common parasite of all kinds of boletes. It forms a crust that often completely engulfs its host. The “Bolete Eater,” “Bolete Mold,” or “Golden Hypomyces” is easy to identify, thanks to its preference for boletes and its white to yellow color scheme.

#150: <em>Asterophora lycoperdoides</em> 0

#150: Asterophora lycoperdoides

This is one of the strangest mushrooms on Earth. It is a gilled mushroom that parasitizes other mushrooms, which already makes it a rarity.  Even less common, Asterophora lycoperdoides reproduces primarily through asexual “”  This mushroom is commonly known as the “Star-Bearing Powder Cap” or the “Powdery Piggyback.” The former name is more common in the United States, while the latter is primarily used in the United Kingdom.

#112: <em>Monotropa uniflora</em>, Ghost Plant, Indian Pipe, or Corpse Plant 0

#112: Monotropa uniflora, Ghost Plant, Indian Pipe, or Corpse Plant

On September 30, 1882, Emily Dickinson wrote the following in a letter to Mabel Loomis Todd: That without suspecting it you should send me the preferred flower of life, seems almost supernatural, and the sweet glee that I felt at meeting it, I could confide to none—I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering child, an unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances mystery, never decreases it— The previous week, she had received a gift from Mabel Todd: a painting of Monotropa uniflora.  These ethereal plants happened to rank among Emily Dickinson’s favorite wildflowers, thus prompting the response above.  In the same letter, Dickinson gave Todd the poem “A Route of Evanescence” in return for the painting with a note explaining, “I cannot make an Indian Pipe but please accept a Humming Bird.”  Many people have likened the Ghost Plant to the reclusive...

#083: <em>Hypomyces lactifluorum</em>: The Lobster Mushroom 0

#083: Hypomyces lactifluorum: The Lobster Mushroom

Lobster Mushrooms are the strangest mushrooms you will ever eat. Yes, these mushrooms are even stranger than edible stinkhorns, which are foul-smelling and sometimes gelatinous.  What makes Lobster Mushrooms truly weird is that they are actually a fungus (Hypomyces lactifluorum) growing on top of a mushroom.  It is this parasitic relationship that gives Lobster Mushrooms their shape and makes them edible.

#059: <em>Tremella mesenterica</em>, Witch’s Butter [Archived] 1

#059: Tremella mesenterica, Witch’s Butter [Archived]

Note: This is an archived post. You can find the current version of this post here. Legend has it that witches use this fungus to cast hexes. When this fungus appears on your gate or door, you have certainly been the victim of a witch’s evil spell.  The only way to counter the hex is to pierce the fungus with straight pins, allowing the inner juices to drain and thus killing the fungus and the spell.  Unfortunately for those who believe this superstition, this method probably doesn’t work too well for two reasons.  First, the mushroom is specifically designed to survive repeated dehydration and rehydration.  Second, the main body of the fungus is still living inside the wood.  Unless you replace the wood you will probably find the mushroom repeatedly fruiting from the same place.