Friday 17 October 2014

Earthstar fungi

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:

I knew I had some of these in my garden, but I have never seen as many as this simultaneously.

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.

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...)

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.


  1. They are beautiful! The thing with fungi is the following, when the weather conditions are favourable, that is, when the temperature and moisture level are just right for the species, you have masses of them. I never saw these in nature because they love coniferous. I cannot take my eyes off the pictures, really! Telling the right species is sometimes possible only by looking the spores under the microscope.

  2. Interesting fungi. I've never seen any like that over here. We do have the spherical ones that puff out their spores, but you don't see anything under them.

  3. I've never seen these before. I'm fascinated by fungi, I should really learn more about them.

  4. so odd? I've never seen anything like this!... so alien!...

  5. They are fascinating fungi. There's a similar one that pops up around my garden, singly though, not in masses like that.

  6. I've always wanted to see an earth star but never have. I am, therefore, jealous.

  7. I've never come across an earth star either but now is fungi time isn't it. We've seen plenty of other sorts.

  8. These are Collared Earthstars (Geastrum triplex) so-called because as they expand a 'collar' peels away from the inside of the outer skin - looking like a dog's flea collar around the inner spore sack.
    (Astraeus hygrometicus is much more rare)
    Neil Mahler.


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