Identification: What in the....???

Discussion in 'Fungi, Lichens and Slime Molds' started by steve@sierra-hikes.com, Feb 27, 2005.

  1. I spotted this...thing...while backpacking in the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson, Arizona. Please see the photo posted at http://what.sierra-hikes.com. It's black and spongy, about 1 1/4 inches wide, sitting directly on the ground. There don't seem to be any roots or legs or wings. Most of the others I spotted on this trip did not have the pod attached to the top. Those were flat and the center was white. I've seen this before while hiking in the White Mountains of Arizona. Any ideas? Some sort of mushroom? Some alien seed pod? The object up and to the left is a cone from a Smooth-bark Arizona cypress.
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hello Steve,

    Ninety percent of the time when the words "alien seed pod" come up in these forums, the answer has something to do with fungi, and this case is no exception. This is an earth star fungus, closely related to puffball fungi. I don't know enough about them to positively ID to even genus, but here are a few resources:

    Earth Stars from Utah State University's Herbarium

    Google search for Geastrum (a common earth star genus) on US educational sites
     
  3. Steve!

    As Daniel says, this is an earthstar (Geastrum). The species must be a rare one as the fruitbody is nearly black. The fungus somewhat resembles saltshaker earthstar (Myriostoma coliforme), a close relative of the true Geastrums, that quite recently has been found in Arizona. The latter, however, possesses several small holes in the endoperidium (the central body) of a ripe fruitbody to distribute the spores. At least with this vessel, the UFOs have no role!

    Please, contact Scott Bates (azmushclub@aol.com) of the Arizona Mushroom Club. He is working out a monograph on the puffballs and earthstars of Arizona.

    Cheers
    Harri Harmaja
    http://www.helsinki.fi/people/harri.harmaja/
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks Harri, good to have some expertise on the subject helping out!

    (PS Have you forgotten your login? This is the second message you've posted as a "guest". Let me or Eric know.)
     
  5. I tried to pass on the info...

    I tried to pass my information on to Scott Bates, but the e-mail address isn't any good, guys. Perhaps one of you has a better one and can get the info about this fungus to Scott.

    Thanks for your tremendous help!
     
  6. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    That is the email that is listed on the website. Maybe you can contact him in another way through the site. Arizona Mushroom Club
     
  7. Greetings:

    Sorry for the long delay - someone has only recently informed me of this post. Unfortunately, I am unable to access the posted image. Does anyone have still have access to it?

    Cheers,

    Scott
    scott.bates@asu.edu

    ****************************
    Scott T. Bates
    School of Life Sciences
    Arizona State University
    PO Box 874501
    Tempe AZ 85287-4501
    ****************************
     
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hi Scott,

    Sorry, looks like Steve has removed the photo from his site - I'm going to have to nudge him to post the attachments directly to the forums next time, so the conversation isn't lost.

    Thanks for taking the time to check in though, it is much appreciated.
     

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