Fungal geotropism

When I visited Hampstead Heath, I explored Sandy Heath for an hour or two – principally to search for wood-decay fungi, but also to look for interesting trees (though I admit the initial impetus was because I was told it was a great place to explore!). One of my finds on that day was this excellent example of a fallen birch on which Ganoderma applanatum played the role in its initial failure, and then colonised the entire trunk following the windthrow event at a different orientation.

Here we can see how the Ganoderma applanatum was fruiting parallel to the ground when the birch was upright and then, following the windthrow event, fruited out of the bottom of its sporophore to become parallel to the ground once again.
Looking up the trunk, we can also see how many brackets formed following the birch’s death (from the windthrow event). We know this as the brackets are parallel to the ground. If a bracket is not forming parallel to the ground, there is a possibility that the host has ‘shifted’ in its orientation – this is particularly the case if the decay is around the butt-root place interface.
Fungal geotropism

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