Friday, 21 December 2012

Earth Stars

A few days ago I noticed what appeared to be a group of small Puff-balls among dead leaves in the Pocket Park. I tentatively identified them as Lycoperdon pyriforme; I should have taken a closer look. Today I did indeed inspect one more closely and realised that it was an Earth Star, almost certainly Geastrum triplex. Wind and rain had exposed more of the fruit body.

As the fruiting bodies of Earth Stars mature the outer wall splits into the pointed rays which give these fungi their common name; my photograph shows six rays but these are not diagnostic as this species can have from 4 to 8 of these structures. We have several species of Earth Star native to Britain. Most are rare; none is excessively common but Geastrum triplex seems to be the most frequently encountered.

Moral: don't jump to conclusions, particularly with a group of organisms in which you have little expertise.

1 comment:

  1. I have only ever seen G. triplex amongst the earthstars. A few years ago, when we had a very dry Summer, two appeared in deep leaf litter from our Pinus mugo in a heavily shaded border. I also saw one at Castle Ashby in November 2012.