Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Interesting mushroom, Rounded Earthstar and ramblings about the dearth of acorns

I spotted these unique looking mushrooms growing under a Colorado Blue Spruce while on the dog walk. Last year I noticed a dry husk of the same mushroom on the sidewalk where the current crop is growing. At first I thought the dry husk was some kind of dry flower like Woodrose, Merremia tuberosa but it was spongy and leathery rather than brittle like the woodrose so I thought it must be some kind of fungus.

I looked it up in my Audubon mushroom guide and found it is Geastrum saccatum the Rounded earthstar. Here's a nice website on Geastrum saccatum. It's supposed to be a common mushroom but I have only seen it once, twice now under this particular blue spruce. The fruiting body resembles an acorn - which speaking of is very scarce around these parts this year. We had a bumper crop of acorns 2 years ago and a lot last year too but nada this year, not a single one to be found on any oak tree. I heard an NPR interview with a Northeast naturalist and she also mentioned the scarcity of acorns this year. I wonder what's up??


Blogger Connie said...

Don't you just love the mushrooms that pop up in the fall? I did 2 posts on them last month. That is a strange looking one!

7:52 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Connie,
Another mushroom lover! Some people find them detestable but I love the intricate and varying forms. It's funny that the earthstar is considered common but I haven't seen another patch in my whole life which is getting to be considerable. ;D Thanks for your comment.

6:21 PM  
Blogger guild-rez said...

Great find..
Haven't seen one in our woods.
Interested to see what is growing in Guildwood - Toronto, Canada?
Please visit..
- Cheers.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Thanks guild-rez. Cool mushroom blog!

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Now that you mention it, I haven't seen many acorns around this year. Interesting how this nature stuff works. :)

8:24 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Anthony,

We just had a visit from our Iowa friend. Apparently they don't have acorns either. I wonder if this is a world wide event?

5:35 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

I have plenty of acorns in northeast Wisconsin...maybe regional weather is the culprit? Totally cool mushroom, BTW! I've seen those in the Audubon guide, but never in real life.

11:56 AM  
Blogger IBOY said...

Boy, earthstars are a mushroom I've known about for many years, and always expected to see, but never have (of course, I'm still waiting to see my first bobcat, and they are fairly common now). Great pictures; thanks for posting them

3:41 PM  
Blogger joey said...

Interesting about acorns ... they do seem scarce this year! Do hope all is well in 'your neck of the woods', Ki, and may the true spirit of the holidays envelope you. With warm thoughts for a peaceful New Year.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hey Lisa,
Wow, at least your squirrels won't grow hungry! I think you may be the only location with acorns! Of course I planted about 300 bulbs of all sorts this fall - I wonder if I'll see any blooming this spring - the squirrels have been digging all over our planting beds! ;( Last count, I caught about 24 squirrels and released them in our local park. Other tree rats have since moved in, in a seemingly endless stream.


Hi Don,
I would have thought Iowa would be fertile ground for earthstars. I know it was for the delicious morels, yumm. Would love to see a bobcat too but I don't think we have them in Jersey. You'd think with all the pesky squirrels to eat this would be a place where they would be abundant.

Hi Joey,

This has been a rather depressing year so your kind words are especially welcome. My wish to you and yours a wonderful holiday and a productive new year. Thanks for your encouragement throughout the year.

5:27 PM  
Blogger joco said...

Hiya Ki,

I had a feeling life was throwing up problems for you this year, but didn't want to ask.
Best wishes for recovery from whatever ails and good fortune for '09.
Thanks for the sustaining posts throughout the year. I guess you can just repeat a year, as all the posts are worth re-reading.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Joco,
This was a year that started out ok but got progressively worse. I'll spare you the details but 2009 has to be better. Thanks for your very kind comment. I appreciate it very much.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

I have not seen any acorns here in Central PA and friends from the Northeast are reporting they haven't either. But it seems to only be in this region as folks in the west and north west are reporting seeing of them.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Scott,
Maybe we'll see a mass migration of those tree rats to the western states. ;D Good riddance! I wonder what triggers the no acorn anomaly? Couple of years ago we had an over abundance of them. I remember picking up a couple of 5 gallon paint buckets full from our 20 feet tall, still young, oak tree.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Jan said...

I have seen these mushrooms in my yard and wondered what they were. Thanks for the info.

Always Growing

5:59 AM  
Blogger Nickie said...

There is a sugar maple in a park here that has the earthstars growing in abundence benieth it. I always though they looked like eyes popping out of the earth. :)

7:59 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Jan,
sorry for the late reply. You're welcome. They seem to be very long lived and haven't changed in appearance since I took the pictures.


Hi Nickie,
I wondered if they favored evergreens as the ones I photographed are under our neighbor's Colorado Blue Spruce and I've not seen them anywhere else. Interesting to know they also grow under maples. They are quite conspicuous and remind me of acorn with cap peeled back.
Thanks for your comment.

3:24 AM  
Anonymous Scott said...

I didn't find any acorns here in Central PA this year. We have a large oak that usually gives us a bountiful supply. I also looked along the Appalachian Trail while hiking and in our local parks. Nothing.

My readers also commented that they couldn't find them in the Northeast either, but others in the Northwest found them in droves. I've heard quite a few theories: unknown pests or disease, excessive rain during the pollination cycle, but none that anyone could point to definitively.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Wolfram and Saffi said...

I am just seeing this post. We live in Fairfield, Iowa and we had NO acorns from our mighty oak last year. Has anything been determined as to the cause/effect?

4:26 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

I have never seen a mushroom like this before. Really cool.

7:22 PM  

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