Tuesday, January 26, 2010

(Partly) buried treasure

The unceasing rain has mashed down most all of the mushrooms this past week. Now there are just piles of gooey, smelly remains of the lovely fungi of a week ago. After two days of that at Howarth Park, I decided to walk up to Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery and see if there was anything interesting going on, fungally speaking. I saw a few of the aforementioned waterlogged mushrooms and had pretty much let go of the idea of finding fungi. My dog, Chloe and I were enjoying the day and wandering about when I spotted this tiny (1.6cm wide by 3.2cm) tall beauty. Finding fungi that I've only seen pictures of is always a cause for celebration, but finding a screaming red cup fungus made it feel like I'd found a treasure. Or won the lottery. I got all excited and stopped just short of jumping up and down. I think I may have said "Yippee!" once or twice. This cup fungus is called Sarcoscypha coccinea  and fruits on decaying sticks and branches. Sometimes, as was the case this time, the wood is buried, making it look as though the fungus is fruiting on the ground.

Unlike mushrooms, whose spores are formed within gills or tubes, then forcibly ejected, cup fungi distribute their spores passively. The spores are formed on the upper surface of the "cup" which is designed so that raindrops can splash the spores out of the cup in such a way that the wind is able to catch and disperse them effectively.

The Australian government has an excellent website about fungi where you can read more about how mushrooms disperse their spores . The same website also explains about other spore dispersal methods. They also have an informative article about cup fungi.


  1. Beautifully done. I think I saw one of these last spring.

  2. Beautifully painted, Debbie. And it looks like watercolour!

    Just had a peek at the Australian fungi website - very impressive. I love to walk around the Sydney Botanical Gardens - it right across the road from the NSW Art Gallery on one side and the harbour on the other! Proving a full day of total bliss.

  3. Yes watercolour.. and it's gorgeous :o)

  4. What a wonderful picture! It is indeed a treasure.

  5. OH mY! what a great color!