Thursday, 16 August 2012

Friday Fungus: basket fungus

The basket fungus, Ileodictyon cibarium, is commonly found in gardens, especially following mulching.  Ridley & Horne (2006) reckon it's become much more common over the last three decades as mulching has become popular.  This one was under kānuka (Kunzea ericoides) in the Wellington Botanic Garden.

It's Māori name is tūtae kēhua (ghost droppings) or tūtae whatitiri (whatitiri is thunder, so this might allude to the fungus appearing after storms).  The spores are presented in a brown smelly secretion at the base of the basket, which gets smeared around the basket and attracts flies.  The basket sits fully-formed inside the "egg" and can wait out a dry spell to erupt suddenly after rain. The sudden appearance of these would be quite dramatic, ghostly even.  The basket isn't attached to the "egg", so it can blow or roll about, dispersing spores.

Reference

Ridley, G.; Horne, D. 2006.  Mushrooms and other fungi of New Zealand.  New Holland Publishers.

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