Coral Fungi

coral fungus

It’s been raining almost daily here — nearly every afternoon we have a cloudburst, and some days the rain starts early and just keeps coming! Summer sports campers ride their bikes doggedly out to soccer field and tennis court; summer music participants tote their instruments from practice room to section work, all through the rain. The plants are soaking it up, growing by leaps and bounds. And beneath them, down at ground level, the fungi are popping up everywhere. This one, photographed on the Perimeter Trail, is a particularly delicate-looking beauty. Coral fungi, called “clavarioid fungi” are a diverse group, mostly decomposers, that have this branched or finger-like look. Clavarioid fungi come in all colors. There are black ones that really do resemble the “dead man’s fingers” for which they are named. Look for coral fungi on decaying leaf litter or on rotting wood. As with all fungi, the part that appears above ground is the reproductive structure. Most of the body of the organism, consisting of fine threadlike hyphae, is deep in the litter or rotten log beneath the lovely “coral.” (Yes, I know. Fungi aren’t plants, but some are pretty enough to be!)

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