(Belated) Observation of the Week, 6/1/18

Our (Belated) Observation of the Week is this group of Phallus luteus mushrooms, seen in Thailand by dawanofmemories!

iNat users have busy lives so sometimes it can take awhile for them to respond for Observation of the Week - and sometimes it can take awhile for me to post it - so here are some cool fungi from Dawan in Thailand!

While we often imagine cool nature finds occurring in exotic, pristine nature preserves, one thing that iNaturalist has proven, which the above photo illustrates, is that you can come across amazing organisms anywhere, even during our decidedly non-nature-centric jobs.

Dawan Kraithong (@dawanofmemories), who found these mushrooms, tells me that her interest in nature stems from her childhood, taught to her mainly by her father. “I am interested in the names...of everything that lives and grows,” she says. A receptionist for a swimming pool in Bangkok, Dawan noticed the Phallus luteus mushrooms “sprouting from the ground” near a patch of bamboo her employer had planted.

The genus name Phallus is, of course, derived from the phallic-looking fruiting bodies of these remarkable fungi, which belong to the family Phallaceae - commonly known as stinkhorns. Unlike most of the mushrooms we are familiar with, which release their spores into the air, stinkhorns instead have a sticky gleba, or spore-producing mass, on the cap. No airborne spores here. Instead, they rely on insects such as flies and ants to land or amble on the gleba and transport the spores which have now stuck to their feet. And one of the best ways to attract flies is to smell like putrefying flesh. Thus, their common name.

The distinctive lacy, net-like structure hanging from the cap of the mushroom is called the indusium. No one is quite sure exactly what its evolutionary purpose is, but one hypothesis posits that it helps crawling insects like beetles and ants find their way to the sticky cap and cover themselves in spores.

Although a recent member of iNaturalist, Dawan (above) has contributed some pretty great finds, like this Blue Crested Lizard. “I use i Naturalist to improve my own interest and learn more about what I see in nature,” she says. “It is my hobby.”

- by Tony Iwane

- Here’s some cool footage of flies and other insects walking all over the glea of a Phallus duplicatus mushroom.

- Before they attain their distinctive shape, young fruiting bodies of Phallus fungi look like little eggs, and if cut open the jelly-like glea can be seen. There’s a nice photo of it here.

Posted on Παρασκευή 20 Ιούλιος 2018 22:59:30 UTC by tiwane tiwane


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