Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bird's Nest Fungus (Nidulariaceae)

Bird's Nest Fungus

According to W.C. Roody's Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians, These are Crucibulum laeve, the Common Bird's Nest. Princess and the birds' nests I agree with him that "this little fungus is always a pleasure to find." These are growing on a butterfly bush stem, but I find them on rotting stuff pretty often here on Droop Mountain. One summer I uncovered a large scrap of plywood crowded with the little nests full of tiny "eggs." It looked like some miniature sea bird rookery. When it rains on these birds' nests, the peridioles (eggs) fly out, trailing their little spring-like "stems" or funiculi. The funiculi have sticky ends which adhere to larger objects, anchoring the spore-filled "eggs" to their new homes.

I've also heard these strange little basidiomycetes called "fairies' purses," with the "eggs" interpreted as tiny silver coins. You can see in the photo at left why subsequent pictures of these charming fungi will feature whisps of yellow fur.

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