Can you stomach the fungi?

A pretty disgusting pun for a Friday evening, eh!

I had the chance to explore a common this afternoon, on my lunch break, and in the small area that I managed to traverse in the space of an hour I came across many earthballs (Scleroderma spp.). Delightfully, they were all mature, and some had begun to eject their spores via natural means – the ones that hadn’t quite got there, certainly were by the time I had finished taking photos! A brilliant ‘puff’ of sooty spore filled the air, when any decent amount of pressure was applied by my finger (or foot) to the ripe fruiting body. Awesome to witness, and the inertia generated by the pressure ejected the spores a good few centimetres up into the turbulent air currents. Other spores were then carried around by me as I paraded half a earthball around for a good few dozen metres, before realising holding onto it was a sure-fire way of looking like a part-time chinmey sweeper…

As this is a blog, and you all clearly come here for the pictures, now bear witness to the venerable earthball. The lack of a discernible pseudostipe (false stem – like the stem that holds up an agaric) probably makes these Scleroderma citrinum. Note these are mycorrhizal fungi, and associate notably with beech, birch, and oak.

First course:

scleroderma-deciduous-woodland-1
When a heavily-decayed birch log becomes your home…
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…a pretty one, at that.
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Some really rich yellows on this earthball, and a lovely scale pattern.
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A look at the mycelial strands that feed the fruiting body can be seen here.
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Broken open, we can see the sooty-coloured spore.

Second course:

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This second one can upside-down on the leaf litter that dressed the soil. Evidently, someone (or something) had disturbed it.
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A much better photo, is this one. The flash ruined the one above.
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On its back, we can again see the mycelial strands.

Third course:

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Smaller and darker, though probably darker due to the fruiting body being covered in spore!
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Looks a bit like a dirt-covered medlar!
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…is that a pesudostipe?
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…perhaps! I still settled with Scleroderma citrinum, though I am certainly aware of the fact that it could be Scleroderma verrucosum.
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We can even see the mass of spores inside, ready to walk upon the wind.

Dessert:

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Feeling full yet? My hard-drive space is!
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A great photo to finish off.
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Can you stomach the fungi?

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