Gardening Magazine

Earthstar Fungi

By Mwillis
A couple of days ago I was trimming back some of my ferns, getting rid of some of the shrivelled fronds, which revealed a big clump of Earthstar fungi:
Earthstar fungi
I knew I had some of these in my garden, but I have never seen as many as this simultaneously.
Earthstar fungi
Searching on the internet for more information about these fungi, I see that there are two very similar-looking types; the (True) Earthstar genus, Geastrum and the False Earthstar genus Astraeus hygrometricus. I'm not an expert on fungi, but I suspect mine are the Astraeus type. They certainly have the distinctive cracking on the leathery rays of the outer layer.
Earthstar fungi
The spherical spore-sacs start off a pale beige colour, and gradually mature to a dark brown. Spores are ejected from the sac as a result of external pressure, e.g. being touched by an animal, or by raindrops falling on them. They come out in a cloud like smoke. (Look closely at the nearest one in the photo below...)
Earthstar fungi
Earthstar fungi
It is generally agreed that this type of fungus, whilst not poisonous, is inedible. What a shame! If they were edible, I'd have a valuable resource at my disposal.
Earthstar fungi

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