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    A Sandworm, Stinkhorn, Staticky Bonnet Mold, and a Dead Man’s Foot

    Some interesting finds were provided by a couple more trips out to Kiara Hills and an afternoon walk around the KL Eco Forest Park this past week.

    Failed attempts at capturing luminous porecaps, like the ones from before, left me wondering what impact temperature, environment, and growth stage have on bioluminescence. Although I couldn’t capture glowing mushrooms, I still found some pretty wild species.

    Trichaleurina javanica

    Trichaleurina javanica is a fleshy and rubbery goblet-shaped mushroom, brownish-gray in color with a brilliant yellowish-orange disc.

    Trichaleurina javanica
    Trichaleurina javanica is one of the less known wild edible mushrooms belonging to Ascomycota.

    It reminds me of a Sandworm from the movie Dune. I reckon Frank Herbert would appreciate this one, given he was also a mycophile.

    Known to go on mushroom forays, Herbert was inspired by and incorporated aspects of fungi into his writing. For example, spores and ‘Melange’ or spice, the blue-staining prevalent in magic mushrooms (psilocybin species), and the blue eyes of his characters.

    Trichaleurina javanica, also known as “Ice Apple Mushroom,” is found in Africa, the Saurashtra regions of Western India, Malaysia, Indonesia, West Java, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. One observation was made in Seychelles and the Philippines, and there have been a couple of observations up in northern Queensland, Australia.

    Trichaleurina javanica
    Older Trichaleurina javanica

    It’s known as ‘Mata Rusa’ (deer eyes) in Sabah, by Dusuns, and ‘Mata Kerbau’ (buffalo eyes) in Sarawak, Malaysia, and is consumed and prized in the market. In India, the mushroom is consumed raw by the Oorali tribe of the Sathyamangalam forest, and it’s not reported as edible in any other part of India.

    I chatted with a Taiwanese friend who mentioned that T. javanica is eaten in Asia.

    Trichaleurina javanica

    Translated recipe:

    1. Put the mushrooms in a pot and bring the water to a boil.
    2. Drain and rinse with cold water.
    3. Add cucumber, minced garlic, a little salt and sugar, sesame oil, and vinegar.
    4. Mix well and put in the fridge to cool, then eat.


    Phallus luteus

    When I first got to Kiara Hills, I spotted a stinkhorn (Phallus luteus), a different colored veil from the common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) I came across in Scotland. The “bridal veil” is orange.

    Phallus luteus
    Phallus luteus

    Stinkhorns are known for their foul-smelling, sticky spore masses, or gleba, borne on the end of a stalk called the receptaculum.

    Compounds found in feces and rotting flesh (carion) provide evidence of a scent profile that mimics fly brood sites and food sources that lure flies, beetles, and other insects into helping disperse spores.

    One popular species, Phallus indusiatus or “bamboo fungus,” is eaten as food in southwestern China after the foul-smelling cap is removed.

    Families of monkeys hang out on the sides of the track, and I continue down to the river. Google Maps labels it as ‘A Sungai (River) Runs Through It.’ Down by the ‘sungai,’ I spot a fuzzy parasitized Mycena infected with bonnet mold. It reminds me of static hair after you rub a balloon on your head.

    Spinellus fusiger

    Spinellus means little spike or thorn, while the specific epithet fusiger means ‘like a spindl’e.

    Spinellus fusiger
    Spinellus fusiger

    Spinellus fusiger grows throughout the cap of the mushroom host, eventually breaking through to produce radiating reproductive stalks (sporangiophores) bearing minute, spherical, terminal spore-containing structures called sporangia.

    While many mushrooms are noticeable and have striking features, some are unassuming and hidden, such as the “dyeball” or “dead man’s foot.”

    Pisolithus arhizus

    Pisolithus comes from two Greek words: Piso- meaning a pea, and lith meaning a stone, while the specific epithet arhizus means ‘having no roots.’

    I found a few of these small potato-like growths embedded in sandy mud under a Eucalyptus tree.

    It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing and is commonly referred to as the dog turd fungus. It is known in Australia as the horse dung fungus, in South Africa as perdebal, and Europe as the Bohemian truffle.

    Pisolithus arhizus
    Pisolithus arhizus = rootless pea-stone.

    This inedible puffball’s black viscous gel is used as a natural dye for clothes. It’s also a major component in mycorrhizal fungus mixtures used in gardening as powerful root stimulators.

    Pisolithus arhizus
    Older names for the genus include Polysaccum—the mushroom with many bags.

    Like clockwork, at around 4, I feel it spit, clouds darken, and the downpour suddenly starts. Monsoon season should be coming to an end. While the rains provide ideal conditions for mushrooms, getting caught in them cuts the forays short, but I’m glad I get the opportunity to observe what weird oddities nature offers.

    Joseph Pallante
    Joseph Pallantehttps://myconeer.com
    An avid traveller, Joe enjoys spending time exploring the New Zealand countryside. In his spare time, he travels around in his campervan, writes about nature, and takes photos of fungi.

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