Thursday, 2 October 2014

Devil's Fingers

I very rarely twitch, the occasional bird and once, a butterfly. Today, thanks to Dawn and Jim I managed two firsts, a life tick in the form of Devil's Fingers, Clathrus archeri and a my first ever fungus "twitch".  When twitching a bird the car journey is filled with apprehension. Will it still be there? - is always the most posed question. This is less so with butterflies as, usually, they are in the plural and fairly sedentary. So today was a leisurely drive, no fear that a fungus could have disappeared. Meanwhile Dawn and Jim were at the site, horrified to find that the twenty five specimens they had found just two days previously, had gone! Possibly leaving me with nothing to record. Anyway, more specimens had emerged and we spent a couple of hours photographing them. Unfortunately I was unable to find any eggs, the form they take prior to shooting out their squid like appendages, oddly enough, in the USA they are called the Octopus Fungus.

An introduced species from Australia and New Zealand, rumour is that it was brought over on timber used by ANZAC troops camped on Chailey and Pound commons. Certainly it has been in the UK since 1914, and is definitely rare, though RHS Kew maintain that it is spreading.

Judicious gardening to remove grass or leaves is just about impossible with this fungus, it is incredibly delicate. I revisited the six fingered specimen about an hour after photographing it and one tip had broken off under its own weight. The other very noticeable attribute they have is the smell, they very definitely live up to their other name - the Octopus Stinkhorn - you have been warned.


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