This week I received an email from a gentleman living in the USA. Attached was a photograph of an ugly looking fungus that he'd found in his garden and which he had cut in half. The interior looked full of seeds, a little like pumpkin seeds. I requested he send me another photograph this time of the whole fruit body. A whole day passed by and then I received a further message which reported that he'd managed to identify it as being probably Pisolithus and he duly sent me further photographs.
I am very grateful to receive these photographs because this fungus is very rare in Britain. It is more frequent in central Europe. In the USA it has been seen in California, Winconsin, Mississippi, Florida and Massachusetts.
Its characteristics are as follows:
Resembles dry horse dung, up to a diameter of 12 cm and up to 25 cm in height. It can be a mixture of yellow, brown, grey and beige. There is either a simple stem or none at all. The texture is rough and granular. The outer wall can rupture thus exposing pear-shaped looking seeds that contain the spores. Habitat can be sand and gravel pits and also coal waste heaps. It is not edible.
According to Thomas. J. Volk, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse this fungus gets its nutrition from the roots of trees such as conifers and sometimes oaks. It can survive at low pH (high acidity) soil, with heavy metals present, and also in drought conditions.
|Showing the whole fungus
|Showing the interior of the fungus
With grateful thanks to Nathan for providing these photographs.