Fabulous Funky Fungi, of the California Kind

| May 16, 2013 | 10 Replies

Fabulous Funky Fungi, of the California Kind have been popping up in the Late Bloomer garden! Water a little too much, and some mind-bending creation appears overnight.

Mushroom pushing out of ground by Kaye Kittrell

Pink-spored Pluteus atromarginatus Pushing Out of Ground

Pink-spored Pluteus atromarginatus. When I look at this photo.I think of Captain Jack Sparrow (from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” for those of you who have been on a deserted island for the past ten years).


Pink-spored Pluteus atromarginatus on Full Display

Since I’ve been gardening for the past year and half, I have become keenly interested in insects and fungi. Did you know fungi are not plants? They have their own special kingdom of study. According to Fun Facts About Fungi (a great site for kids learning about fungi), “Living things are organized for study into large, basic groups called kingdoms. Fungi were listed in the Plant Kingdom for many years. Then, scientists learned that fungi show a closer relation to animals, but are unique and separate life forms. Now, Fungi are placed in their own Kingdom.” This makes me want to go back to school!

I was stumped early on by a couple of the fungi that popped up, so luckily I found MykoWeb, Mushrooms, Fungi, Mycology, a site that features The Fungi of California. Click the link to go to the Simple Key. Agarics, or Gilled Mushrooms, are listed at the top because they “are the most common group of mushrooms.” The photos on this site are excellent, but it can be time-consuming looking through hundreds of photos to identify your find.

So, when I discovered this alien creature in my garden and wanted to feature it in an earlier blog (with more photos of its life cycle) and an episode of “Late Bloomer,” I wrote to the site owner. He responded that it was a Pisolithus arhizus (aka P. tinctorius). The common name, Dog Turd Fungi, and you can see why!

Pisolithus arhizus (aka P. tinctorius)

Pisolithus arhizus (aka P. tinctorius) – Common name Dog Turd Fungi

They emerge round and smooth and erupt into this, with a blue-colored “flower.” Before the flower appears, it can look like a pile of dog poop. In some countries, they refer to it as deer turd fungi. Then, within a couple of days, the show is over, and the whole thing disintegrates.

This Blistered Cup Fungi appeared at the end of January. Since I was born on Valentine’s Day, I’m particularly fond of heart shapes.

Blistered Cup Fungi by Kaye Kittrell

Heart-shaped Blistered Cup Fungi

In fact, all of these mushrooms popped up from December to April, when we received some rain. It’s now mid-May, and we don’t expect to see a drop of rain for six months. So, if any mushrooms pop up, it will be due to a leak in the irrigation. These Black Gilled Agarics appeared around the drip-line I installed. (oops, bit of a leak there) Some connection with spores and water, I have a feeling!

Black Gilled Agaric Fungi by Kaye Kittrell

Black Gilled Agaric Fungi Clustered Around Leaky Drip Line

Lord of the Rings Fungi Cluster

Black Gilled Agaric Fungi Cluster

I always think of “Lord of the Rings” when I look at this photo! I’m kicking myself I did not get a shot of the underside of the cap. The gills were black! In modern parlance, this would be called a “photo fail.” Other small, white or tan Agarics that have pushed up:

Small White Agaric Fungi by Kaye Kittrell

Small White Agaric Mushroom Cluster

Tan White-Gilled Agaric Fungi by Kaye Kittrell

Tan, Smooth White-Gilled Mushroom

How can you be sure of the gill, or spore, color? After all, they come in white, pink, brown, purple-brown and black. Just tilt it up to see!

Fungi Gills, White, by Kaye Kittrell

White Gills of an Agaric Fleshy Type Mushroom

This tiny grouping popped up in a potted plant I had obviously over-watered.

Small Tan Agaric Mushrooms

Small Tan Agaric Mushrooms

The tops of this massive fleshy Agaric cluster split immediately due to fast growth.

Large Brown Pale-Gilled Mushroom Cluster by Kaye Kittrell

Large Brown Pale-Gilled Fungi

For scale, I had my ready garden helper Courtney pose with them as a bouquet.

Pale-Gilled Agaric Fungi Cluster by Kaye Kittrell

Massive Pale-Gilled Agaric Mushroom Cluster as Bouquet

Next to last is the most delicate fungi I have found, Coprinopsis lagopus, a black-spored Agaric fungi. It first pushes up as a thin, translucent white stem with black shiny head.

Coprinopsis lagopus1 by Kaye Kittrell

Coprinopsis lagopus Fungi upon first pushing up

Then the black separates into stripes, or black gills, as it opens to a delicate cup with edges turned in.

Coprinopsis lagopus

Coprinopsis lagopus Fungi as it opens

Then, the cap opens wide and splits. If you touch it, it disintegrates.

Black-gilled Fungi Open by Kaye Kittrell

Coprinopsis lagopus Black-gilled Fungi open wide

I’ve saved for last the most unusual, a phallic-shaped, Stinkhorn type fungus (yes, it does have a bad odor) Lysurus mokusin or Lantern Stinkhorn. The flies are attracted to the fruiting body which “imitates rotting flesh. The deception is irresistible to flies which carry off the olive gleba-bearing spores, helping disperse the species.” – MykoWeb

Stinkhorn Fungi by Kaye Kittrell

Fly on Lysurus mokusin Stinkhorn Fungi pushing out of ground

I had seen the photo at the link, but was not convinced that’s what I had popping up in my garden, until I wrote to the site owner and he informed me. Dozens of these white eggs appeared just under the surface, so I dug underneath a cluster and pulled this up. Each egg would have produced a hollow, pinkish shaft, with the egg sac remaining on the head. Within hours of appearing, they wilted and shriveled. (smile)


Lysurus mokusin Stinkhorn Fungi with Egg Cluster

I hope you enjoyed my foray into fungi foibles! Thanks for stopping by “Late Bloomer” and I promise to continue entertaining, enlightening, and hopefully, occasionally, dazzling you, with my photos of glorious, marvelous nature. Comments are welcome! Please share with your fungi friends!

If you enjoyed this post, please let me know. Thanks for your support! ~ Kaye

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Category: Fungi

Comments (10)

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  1. Deb Weyri-Cody says:

    Hey Kaye, long time no “see”… LOVE your mushy pics (‘specially the turquoise-flowered Dog Turd) but, do you know, were any of them edible? Morels are a big deal most recently and Butter Mushrooms grow rampantly under the Pines (just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving: )
    Happy gardening! D.

  2. Pedro says:

    Dear ♥Ell♥e♥,When I took the fungi on the tree, I was amused as they lokoed liked a man’s large nose and mouth. I just had to add the eyes. I like mushrooms if they are the edible variety but I know the dangers of picking mushrooms in the wild when we aren’t certain if they are safe. Some mushrooms can be poisonous and all are better left alone if we aren’t certain they’re safe. I once had a planter box of mushrooms in a classroom. When they were ready, we had them raw on bread after washing or of fried.Did you know the mushrooms and toadstools we see are only a small part of the fungi?I have read a fungus (single form of fungi) is the largest known life form. One in Oregon, USA was found to stretch over about 3.9 square miles and was up to 8,500 years old. On the surface of the ground, all you see are its fruiting bodies known as honey mushrooms.The fungi I photographed were all found in amongst the trees and often up close to tree trunks. Underground, they send root-like threads. This is how they spread.@RossMannell

    • Thanks for all the good fungi info and for writing, Pedro. My neighbor quipped to me, “All mushrooms are edible. Some you only eat once!” Happy gardening! – Kaye

  3. dlg gliders says:

    5 and 6 seem to be Coprinellus micaceus not Agaric or i could be wrong.
    love all your pictures 🙂

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