Claire selected another wonderful image of a fungus for today’s BPotD entry and writes:
Oudemansiella mucida, better known as the porcelain mushroom, is a member of the Physalacriaceae (quite a mouthful!). Monika took this particular photo in Austria, and it is common in temperate regions around Europe. The mushroom is specific to beech trees and lives in clusters mainly on dead branches and trunks, but has also been sighted on live trees. Also called the poached egg fungus, Oudemansiella mucida can be consumed after its outer slimy coat is washed off. I don’t believe the name is because of the taste, but likely because of its rounded, white, slimy cap that resembles an egg white. If you’re in European forests in autumn, perhaps it might be worth it to take a shot at collecting Oudemansiella mucida.
Eric adds: In addition to what Claire has written, study of this fungus led to the development of a powerful anti-fungal agent commonly used to protect agricultural crops. Oudemansiella mucida and another fungus, Strobilurus tenacellus secrete substances that deter competing fungi. Study of these secretions led to the development of azoxystrobin a powerful anti-fungal used extensively by farmers, particularly for wheat production. It is considered to have low environmental risk because it has low toxicity for mammals, birds, bees, insects, and earthworms. It is highly toxic to some freshwater and marine animals, but the chemical breaks down in the soil and if runoff is monitored may be used relatively safely.