Cyathus stercoreus – Birds’ Nest Fungus
Resembling birds’ nests, the fruiting bodies grow in large colonies on woodchip mulch, measuring just 12mm across, at first densely covered with hairs. The membrane centre top splits exposing a number of pebble-shaped peridioles containing the spores. The internal wall is shaped to expel the peridioles when it is hit by raindrops. Cyathus stercoreus peridioles have a sticky end on a long tail which allows it to twist around vertical objects, the extra height improving spore dispersal through a small hole which can be seen in the last image.
Geastrum triplex -Earth Star
The Geastrum fruiting body emerges in late summer/early autumn. It has two layers; an outer skin which splits forming 5 to 9 arms and a ball-like case containing spores. Sometimes the fold back of these arms lifts the ball off the ground however this is more pronounced in some Geastrum species such as Geastrum pectinatum. The spores are pushed out in a cloud through a single opening or peristome, often by rain drops on the ball. Earth stars are common on richly composted soil or deep litter in rainforests and eucalyptus forests and usually occur in large groups. They are not edible.
Geastrum triplex grow in several places in the Park, the most obvious of which is on the edge of the path at the left corner of the bridge section spanning the main freshwater lake near the Dam.
Thanks to Ian Bell for the amazing photo capturing the ‘puff’ of spores being dispersed.
Fruiting bodies are at first covered with soft darl fibrillose pointed scales that fall off as the ‘ball’ expands, leaving a smooth shiny surface skin. Spores are brown. These two specimens found near the path in 3rd Heath in 2013.
Mycenastrum corium – Tennis Puffball
A hard-skinned puffball, the Mycenastrum corium fruiting body is large (~200mm diameter) and spherical or pear-shaped. It survives in desert and semi-desert areas and coastal dunes so is well-suited to drought conditions. The tough outer layer splits when mature releasing very large numbers of dark brown spores. This specimen appeared on the bank of the Saltwater Lake in 2011.
Schleroderma cepa or polyrhizum
There are numerous kinds of Scleroderma – citrinum, polyrhyzum, aurantum, flavidium, bovista and cepa with very similar characteristics. The fruiting body is a egg or spherical shape with a hard peridium or outer skin, variously cracked or wartish and yellow to reddish brown. On maturity, the upper surface opens up to form segments like petals or a ragged crater. The spores inside are brown, purple-brown or almost black. Unlike their prized cousins, truffles, they are not edible.
Vascellum pratense – Puffball