Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mushroom Flower

"Mushroom Flower" - Gerronema strombodes
Michael Baird found this mushroom on our hike.  From a distance it looks more like a flower than a fungus.  I couldn't find it in any of my field guides and turned to my friendly neighborhood mycologist, Mark Bower.  He also initially struck out and sent it to MOMS site (Missouri Mycological Society) where it was identified as Gerronema strombodes.

You would think that a striking fungus like this would have a common name and in absence of one, I am naming it mushroom flower.  It is the most commonly found of the uncommon to rare Gerronema species in the Eastern US.  

G. strombodes is a saprophytic fungus, growing on decaying wood.  It is usually found during damp periods.  Michael Kuo at gives a colorful description of his first attempts to identify it.  He too was led on a merry chase including translating a description from German.   His extensive description gives you an idea of some of the features used to differentiate the species.


Most experts discourage trying to identify a mushroom by thumbing through a guide looking at pictures, so it was refreshing to read that even the great are occasionally reduced to my most common method when "keying out" fails.  A simple example of a mushroom key is this one from Kuo.

Using a key is becoming a little less daunting with computer programs such as MycoKey but you still have to learn the descriptive language.  Or you contact a friend.  Sometimes who you know trumps what you know.

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