Mushrooms in the Desert!?
Updated: Mar 4, 2022
You heard it here first folks: MUSHROOMS ARE RESILIENT & DYNAMIC as heck!!
If you've read about our official introduction into rock-hounding (or maybe initiation with some light hazing is a better way to put it?) then you already know about these modest mushrooms we almost overlooked in Arizona. Nestled up under a mesquite tree, these two tall mushrooms were carefully blended into their environment.
Now typically I take pride in photographing the mushrooms I feature, but you have to understand: on this day my mind was preoccupied by thinking I had struck gold in a sense (meteorites!?)... So first here you'll see Wikipedias stock image if these Desert Stalked Puff Balls but below you can find a gallery of the low-quality/quick pics I snapped with my iPhone.
So what's so special about these mushrooms?
Well not only are they tough enough to survive the desert climate, but they're also unique in their physical features. As you can see from the photos these mushrooms resemble a classic toadstool shape with a slender stipe and a top... But if you take a closer look you'll find they're basically puff ball mushrooms sitting atop a tall stem (hence the common name "Stalked Puff Ball."
To those moore familiar with mushrooms this is especially neat because at first glance they appear to fall under the 'Bolete' umbrella term, meaning a mushroom in which spores are released from a porous cap undersurface rather than gills.
But, these mushrooms are just full of surprises! Instead they feature a "spore sac" resembling the body of puff ball mushrooms.
And the fascinating characteristics dont end there. The spores of these mushrooms are actually designed to help them reproduce an environment known for arid and desolate conditions. According to their wikipedia page:
"The [mature] spores are sticky. As these are carried away by the wind, the drying action of the latter cause the edges of the peridium to shrivel and roll up more, exposing more spores. This is continued until the upper half of the peridium has shriveled and blown away and there remains only a few spores[..]."
Pretty cool huh!? We're crossing our fingers in hopes of running into these fascinating beauties in the desert again soon!