Macrotyphula juncea

…and a thank you to Randal Mindell of UBC Botanical Garden, who wrote today’s entry:

If anyone is wondering what the term gregarious means in a mycological context, Daniel’s photographs today do a fairly good job of illustrating it. Macrotyphula juncea is a relatively widespread, yet under-reported fungus, documented across both hemispheres at diverse longitudinal gradients. According to David Aurora’s Mushrooms Demystified, it is typically found on decaying leaf litter. Here in the garden, we found it atop maple leaves in late October.

This genus falls within the fungal phylum Basidiomycota, better known as the mushrooms. While Macrotyphula juncea does not look like a typical mushroom, what you are seeing in the corresponding photographs are above-ground “fruiting bodies” that bear the same characteristic spore-bearing structures (basidia) as all members of the phylum. The solitary, thread-like fruiting bodies of this species are less than a millimeter in diameter and are observed in our massive population to approach 10 centimeters in height. While their surfaces appear remarkably smooth to the naked eye, under the microscope, you can see that it is entirely covered by spore-bearing basidia.

Can you eat it? In David Aurora’s infamous Mushrooms Demystified, the edibility of Macrotyphula juncea is described by the author as “utterly irrelevant–a couple hundred would be needed for a mouthful!”.

Macrotyphula juncea
Macrotyphula juncea

15 responses to “Macrotyphula juncea”

  1. fm rinker charleston, sc usa

    unusual and magical. in the right lighting, could be tiny candles – fun to see. will it flourish in high humidity?

  2. Meg Bernstein

    So fascinating!

  3. Melissa

    I love it when you feature mushrooms! Puts me in the mood for Halloween!

  4. Crystal Rogers

    Wow! I have seen this in the Smokies! It was in a small pool of water overlaying leaf litter.

  5. Deborah Lievens

    After looking at the titles, as I scrolled down, I looked at the specific epithet for clues. Thought it might look like Juncus. I checked the family name – no help. And then the picture – still no idea what I’m looking at. But a mushroom. What fun!

  6. phillip

    fungal phylum Basidiomycota, better known as the mushrooms….
    he…he…yep the mushrooms..lol
    phillip

  7. Hollis

    does kinda looks like a juncus to me … enough to justify the name anyway. Is that why it was so named?

  8. Daniel Mosquin

    I think so, yes.
    There’s one little factoid I meant to add as one of the first comments. Gather a bunch of them in your hand, make sure they’re in a pile, and inhale… the scent of apple pie!

  9. Cambree

    Interesting little fungus.
    Also a bit scary like needles. But if it smells like apple pie then it’s good stuff.

  10. Er.We

    woah. Thx!

  11. elizabeth a airhart

    you want us to inhale apple pie
    do you have any choclate cream pie growing

  12. linda miller

    Great write up and photography..Linda

  13. kate

    that is THE coolest! it almost looks like grass.

  14. Heather

    Magnificent. Thank you for this posting. Most interesting!

  15. Gary in Olympia

    Wow. At first, it looked like a 3D seismograph . . . or a collage of the EKGs of a team of lugers!

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