Friday, 4 August 2006

A fun guy

I don't know much about fungus, but I know what I like—Ileodictyon gracile.

A friend found this one on his property NE of Melbourne yesterday. Lucky duck. I don't get anything so exciting at my place.

Ileodictyon gracile and close relative I. cibarium, the lattice or basket fungi, are members of the stinkhorn family. Stinkhorns develop from an egg-shaped sac and usually have a fruiting body of ... er ... amusing appearance*. Ileodictyon has a little more class. There's not much to snigger at here.

They unfold quite rapidly. Someone at the Herbarium described them as bursting out, which must be quite a sight. (Apparently, they're common on mulch at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. I should get off my bum and have a look.). After unfolding, the fungus sheds its spores from the inside of the meshwork. The buckyball shape means it can roll like a tumbleweed. That really spreads the spores around.

The two Ileodictyon are on Fungimap's list of target species. Fungimap is a national project calling for fungi-lovers all over the country to send in reports of when and where the target species pop up.

* Just to be completely accurate, a whole bunch of stinkhorns don't have that characteristic form. Some look like mutant starfish, for instance.)

[Thanks to Randall Robinson for this lovely photo.]

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