Fungi is a large group of organisms that contains yeasts, molds, and mushrooms. They can be deadly, helpful, ordinary looking, or quite beautiful. There are so many, it’s hard to narrow the field down, but here are just ten fungi that stand out as being rather unusual. There were two that I wanted to include, but I can’t find them on the internet because I don’t know their name.
Lactarius indigo, also known as the indigo milk cap or blue milk mushrooms, is found in many parts of the world and has a very distinctive blue color that gradually turns bright green when the mushroom tissue is cut or broken. Besides being attractive to look at, it’s also quite edible, and is found in many food dishes in Mexico, Guatemala, and China.
Panellus stipticus, or bitter oyster, is also found almost all over the world, where it can be found in dense groups on logs. What makes this fungi distinctive is its ability to glow, a trait found in only a few dozen other species. It’s bioluminescence changes depending on where it is in the world.
Tremella mesenterica (whose common names include the yellow brain, the golden jelly fungus, the yellow trembler, and witches’ butter) is a common fungus found on dead branches. Its fruity body is greasy or slimy when damp, and shrivels into a thin film when dry, ready to revive during the next rain. Although edible, it is bland and flavorless, but can be eaten for its valuable carbohydrates when needed. In fact, it has attracted research interest because of its potential to be included in health food powders because of its high amount of nutrients.
Rhodotus, unlike the fungi shown above, consists of only a single mushroom, and its distinctive netted appearance earns it the nicknames “the rosy veincap,” or “the wrinkled peach.” It is quite uncommon, and because of the eager collection of the mushroom, has been put on Europe’s Red List of threatened species. Usually found on rotting hardwood, mature specimens are identified from their veined body and pinkish color that varies depending on the amount of light it received during maturation.
Clavaria zollingeri, a violet or magenta tubular fungi, can reach up to 3.9 inches tall and 2.8 inches wide. The tips are usually rounded and brownish, and it derives it nutrients from breaking down organic matter.
Geastrum saccatum, or the rounded earthstar, is a very common mushroom found in North America and Europe. Found on rotting wood, the mushroom is considered edible due to its bitter taste. A build up of calcium oxolate crystals in a mature specimen causes the outer layer of the body to peel back and under in a star shape, giving it its distinctive shape.
Aseroe rubra, or the anemone stinkhorn, is recognizable from its foul odor of carrion and sea anemone shape. Usually found in mulch and grassy areas, the brownish slime on its stalk attracts flies which spread its spores.
Although it looks like a mold, the Clavariaceae is actually a mushroom, and is part of a family containing 7 genera and 120 species, all with the tubular shape that gives them a collective nickname of aquatic coral, antler fungi, finger fungi, worm mold, spaghetti mushroom, etc. This particular mushroom is distinctive for its ability to grow anywhere, including on and in dead animals.
Mycena interrupta, or the pixie’s parasol, is a very small and delicate mushroom. Although found in many areas of the world, it requires very certain conditions to grow, and is not found often. The caps range from .6 to 2 cm wide, and are a brilliant cyan blue color.
Morchella conica is a very edible mushroom with an unusual honeycomb head. It is prized by gourmet cooks, especially for French cuisine, and are hunted by thousands of people every year for its wonderful taste.
(images via the Twisted Sifter)