Geastrum triplex (NL: Gekraagde aardster / EN: Collared earthstar, Saucered earthstar, Triple earthstar / DE: Halskrausen-Erdstern / FR: Géastre à trois couches) is a species of fungi in the Geastraceae family. Discovering a specimen belonging to the genus Geastrum, or earthstar fungi, is always a delight. Immature fruit bodies are almost spherical, resembling puffballs with pointed beaks , and are mostly partially or completely buried in the ground. As the fungus matures, the outer layer of tissue (the exoperidium) splits into four to eight pointed segments which spread outwards and downwards, lifting and exposing the spherical inner spore sac. The spore sac contains gleba, a mass of spores and fertile mycelial tissue that when young is white and firm, but ages to becomes brown and powdery. Often, a layer of the exoperidium splits around the perimeter of the spore sac so that it appears to rest in a collar or saucer.
However, Geastrum triplex doesn't always form a saucer, and other distinguishing features must then be matched for accurate identification: This species is the largest of the earthstar fungi, with a tip to tip length of an expanded mature specimen reaching up to 12 centimeters; the pronounced "beak" on young specimens; the fuzzy opening in the spore case (the "peristome" which is usually surrounded by a paler area); and the fact that the mushroom is attached to the substrate only at the base.
Image: Zoersel (BE) – 30/09/2012
© Johan Dierckx
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