Auriscalpium vulgare (NL: Oorlepelzwam / EN: Pinecone mushroom, Cone tooth, Ear-pick fungus / DE: Ohrlöffelpilz / FR: Hydne cure-oreille) is a species of fungus in the family Auriscalpiaceae. It was first described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, who included it as a member of the tooth fungi genus Hydnum, but British mycologist Samuel Frederick Gray recognized its uniqueness and in 1821 transferred it to the genus Auriscalpium that he created to contain it. The fungus is widely distributed in Europe, Central America, North America, and temperate Asia. Although common, its small size and nondescript colors lead it to be easily overlooked in the pine woods where it grows. The fruit bodies grow on conifer litter or on conifer cones that may be partially or completely buried in soil. The dark brown cap of the small, spoon-shaped mushroom is covered with fine brown hairs, and reaches a diameter of up to 2 cm. On the underside of the cap are a crowded array of tiny tooth-shaped protrusions ("teeth") up to 3 mm long; they are initially whitish to purplish-pink before turning brown in age (see image !).The dark brown and hairy stem, up to 55 mm long and 2 mm thick, attaches to one edge of the cap. The mushroom produces a white spore print out of roughly spherical spores. High levels of humidity are essential for optimum fruit body development, and growth is inhibited by excesses of either light or darkness. Fruit bodies change their geotropic response three times during their development, which helps ensure that the teeth ultimately point downward for optimum spore release.
Image: Schilde (BE) – 06/11/2012
© Johan Dierckx
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