Observation Series
Unusual Wild Mushrooms - Earthstars

Seeing mushrooms in the wild is a common encounter in tropical countries like Singapore. Occasionally, some will even appear in my flower pots. However, having a type of rare mushroom growing in my pot is an entirely different experience after all. This happened on a Saturday morning in July 2011 while I was going through my plant watering ritual. When I was about to water the large pot that housed the Cherry Tree (Muntingia calabura), something unusual on the soil caught my attention. It immediately sounded a bell in my mind. I had a Earthstar Mushroom in my pot!

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It was growing just by the side of a common ground cover weed (Hemigraphis reptans). I suspected that there might be more of them around. Sure enough, I spotted another one (picture right) hiding under the leaf of another of the same weed nearby.

After confirming that I had two Earthstars, I started to look more closely on the soil surface to see whether there were unopened ones around. There were a few elevated objects covered with mosses. They looked like young, unopened Earthstars though but I cannot be sure. Time will tell.

photophotoOne of presumably young Earthstar was located back-to-back with the opened one (picture at far right). Several of the elevated objects were scattered at the nearby area. There were some pebbles in the pot and I had always thought that these elevated objects were pebbles covered with mosses over time. One of the isolated pebble-like objects was shown on the right.

The soil surface in the pot was left undisturbed since the day I planted the Cherry seedling. I am not in the habit of occasional soil loosening or adding fertilizer to my plants. I prefer to leave the land undisturbed and observed what appears out of it. The Earthstar mushroom is one of the best surprises that emerge out of the soil.

The mushroom is likely to be from the genus Geastrum (family: Geastraceae). It looks like a star on earth and thus goes its common name.

This was the second time that I saw an Earthstar. I counted myself very lucky when I saw the first one in the wild in January 2010. That was a lone and tiny Earthstar growing at the tip of a small rotting branch on the forest ground. It was much smaller than the ones seen in my pot.

Below was the Earthstar seen then (from left to right): (1) Earthstar on the fallen branch, (2) top view and (3) side view of the Earthstar.

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Last updated: 10 July 2011

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