Friday, 24 July 2015

Stinky

We have been having an odd winter. We had several  cold nights where it got down to 6-7C. Now a few days later, it has warmed up to 16-18C over night. As a result some of the biota are a bit confused.

One forest organism that seems to have taken advantage of the warm night is the Bridal Veil Fungus, Phallus industriatus (Phallaceae).
 Warm, moist conditions seem to suit this odd fungus. Innocuous enough from a photo but it has a awful smell. For a couple of days I smelled what I thought might be escaping LPG gas, then I recalled the smell of flowering Amorphophallus bulbifera but it is the wrong time of the year for this plant. I searched the usual pots but could find no bulbifera.

Then I stumbled on the above-my first encounter with the Bridal Veil Fungus. The "veil" is usually intact, but after a couple of days with turkeys and birds about, the veil has become detached. This one measures about 10 cm.
The smell attracts flies, especially Blowflies (Calliphoridae) which feed on the juices of the plant.
 In so doing the spores of the fungus attach to the fly and as it moves around the rainforest the spores detach and spread the fungus to additional habitats.
Blowflies are not the only flies that feed on the fungus. Here a Drosophila species has also been attracted to the food source.

The odour of this fungus is so strong that campers have been known to abandon campsites due to fetid smell.

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