DECEMBER 3, 2021
YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
When you think of mushrooms, you might think of white or brown blobs in the woods, or the red-and-white-spotted ones from a certain video game franchise.
But the world of fungi is a Wowzerful little collection of wonders all its own.
This week, we’re looking at a fantastic fungi, Mycena interrupta, otherwise known as the pixie parasol mushroom!
Image: JJ Harrison
The caps on these tiny translucent mushrooms are just 2 cm in diameter.
They’re short too, reaching only 1 to 2 cm in height.
Their stipe (the word for a mushroom’s stem) is also translucent and connects at the base with a flat white and blue disk.
Their stunning blue colouring helps the mushrooms to stand out despite their minuscule stature.
Native to Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Chile, these mushrooms prefer a warm, moist climate.
This means you’re most likely to find them in rainforests or in beech and eucalyptus forests.
They live off decomposing logs and branches on the forest floor, recycling the wood and converting it into nutrients as part of the endless ecological cycle.
Left image: Hayden R Jones Right image: Paul George
The pixie parasol nickname doesn’t just refer to its small size. This mushroom is a shapeshifter, opening up like an umbrella as it matures!
They start life as microscopic spores, slowly growing into tiny blue spheres that look a lot like shiny marbles.
As the stipe lifts the ball into the air, the sphere slowly flattens into the more familiar parasol shape.
Unlike many mushrooms, the tops of the pixie parasol are sticky.
With a little rain, they get shiny too!
When moist, the white gills and blue mushroom bodies look like tiny wave pools or oceans.
While they’re beautiful, you should probably keep your distance should you see one in the wild.
Their small size means that they are delicate, and not all members of the Mycena family are edible.
It’s always best to ask an expert before choosing any wild mushrooms as a snack.
Some members of the Mycena family have an even cooler trick than a blue hue—some can glow in the dark!
Pixie parasol mushrooms grow from spores. This means that they typically grow in clusters as the spores fall from existing mushrooms.
While the Mycena family of mushrooms comes in a range of colours, the pixie parasol is the only blue one!
Some cool stuff from around the web we think you and your kids will enjoy.
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— Don Walsh
Why was the tree’s mother angry?
Because he was being knotty.
Today’s email was written by Joshua J. with contributions by Geoff W. and Branden S.
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