Bird’s Nest Fungi

One of my favorite fungi are Nidulariaceae, commonly known as bird’s nest fungi. They feed on decaying wood on damp forest floors. The cup-like shape helps spread the “eggs” (packets of spores). When it rains, water droplets splash the spores out and away from the fruiting body.  I “raised” some Nidula niveotomentosa in a terrarium in 2013 and kept a photo journal of their progress.  I’ve shared some “wild” bird’s nest fungi at the bottom of this post.

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NOV 1, 2013 –  You can see the “lids” (epiphragm) collapsing. They will eventually fall away and reveal the “eggs” (peridioles).

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NOV 4, 2013 – A slower process than I thought, but the “lids” (epiphragm) have collapsed on some of them. They will eventually fall away and reveal the “eggs” (peridioles). It’s looking a lot like a plumber’s convention: lots of cracks but only a few chicks.

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NOV 8, 2013 – Finally, the “eggs” are revealing themselves! The epiphragm have eroded away on five and quickly followed by the others. The peridioles (“eggs”), which are spores. The spores are dispersed when raindrops fall into the cup. I’ll have to mimic this with my water bottle to see if they disperse and form new birds nest fungi.
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Here’s some “wild” Nidulariaceae (possibly Nidula candida) that I discovered in the Willamette National Forest in September of 2013.

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In this photo of Nidula candida, note the dark grey peridioles have been dispersed and are sticking to the nearby leaf. (February 2015, Opal Creek Wilderness)

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The epiphragm of these fungi have yet to reveal their peridioles.  Does the timing have to be right for the peridioles to be released? (October 2013, McKenzie River National Recreation Trail)

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Empty nests on a rotting log near a colony of Fuscopannaria pacifica lichen. (October 2013, McKenzie River National Recreation Trail)

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Here are some nests ready for the next rainy day to disperse its peridioles. (February 2015, Opal Creek Wilderness)

1 Response

  1. Laurie says:

    Hi Kolby! Did the spores disperse like you thought they would when you watered them? I was going to suggest using a mister (like one you would use for orchids) to water the mushrooms, but then I saw the date of your experiment (Nov 2013). Also, a mister may not be strong enough to mimic forest rain. Nonetheless, a very cool project. Thank you for sharing this information!

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