|July 22, 2008||Posted by Dave S. under Off Topic, Science|
This is off topic. Specifically botany and mycology. I thought some readers might find it of interest.
I’m vacationing for the summer up north, it’s been wet and warm, perfect for mushrooms so this morning my daughter and I went walking through some woods and fields looking for mushrooms. I really wanted to get a sack of table mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus; button mushroom; portobello) to cook up. All I found in that regard was one lonely old portobello long past its prime. We found lots of boletes, amanitas, lbm’s (little brown mushrooms), death caps, and one odd thing that was sort of mushroom shaped, lumpy, light violet, but no gills I could discern. Disappointingly, no puffballs.
We did find something fairly rare though that I’d seen once before but didn’t know what it was.
Turns out it was a cluster of these, scientific name Monotropa uniflora, common names “Indian Pipe”, “Corpse Plant”, and “Ghost Plant”. My daughter googled them up when we got back using the search term mushroom flower. They have “flesh” that seems indistinguishable from mushrooms, no chlorophyl whatsoever, but they also have unmistakable leaves, petals, pistils, and stamens so I knew they had to be a plant. These things parasitize a mycorrhizal fungus (a fungus that is symbiotic with plant roots). So their ultimate source of nutrients is a normal green photosynthetic plant but it gets those nutrients second hand by way of a fungus and except for the obvious plant parts you’d swear it itself was a fungus.