Nature’s Halloween Garden

Now that October is here, it is time for my second annual series of Halloween-themed posts. This week’s post features some of the dark weirdness of the natural world. Together with beautiful summer wildflowers and autumn leaves, nature creates creepy looking fungi and plants that look like they belong in horror or science fiction movies.

Freaky Fungi

Hydnellum peckii

According to Wikipedia, this weird fungus is found in North America and Europe, and it “was recently discovered in Iran (2008) and Korea (2010).” It “forms mutually beneficial relationships with a variety of coniferous trees, growing on the ground singly, scattered, or in fused masses.” The “blood” of this fungus has inspired several colorful common names, including strawberries and cream, bleeding Hydnellum, bleeding tooth fungus, and red-juice tooth. The blood appears only while it is young. When it gets old, it becomes “brown and nondescript.”

Source:Hydnellum peckii” – Wikipedia

Hydnellum peckii2.jpg

By Bernypisa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Hydnellum peckii - Young specimen
Hydnellum peckii – Young specimen – Bellamonte (TN), Italy – 17/08/2005 – personal photo – B.Baldassari
17 August 2005

 

Scharfer Korkstacheling Hydnellum peckii.jpg

By H. Krisp (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bleeding Tooth Fungus, Red-Juice Tooth or Devil's tooth, Hydnellum peckii
Bleeding Tooth Fungus, Red-Juice Tooth or Devil’s tooth, Hydnellum peckii, Family: Bankeraceae, Location: Germany, Ulm, Eggingen
22 September 2012

Clathrus archeri

Wikipedia describes this fungus as “indigenous to Australia and Tasmania and an introduced species in Europe, North America and Asia.” Its tentacle-like arms have earned it the common name of “Octopus Stinkhorn.” As its common name implies, this fungus literally stinks. In fact, it “smells of putrid flesh” when it reaches maturity.

Source: “Clathrus archeri” – Wikipedia

Clathrus archeri.jpg

By de:Benutzer:Oilys [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

octopus stinkhorn
octopus stinkhorn
October 2004

 

Clathrus archeri-Ain.JPG

By Classiccardinal (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Clathrus archeri.
Clathrus archeri.
15 October 2013, 17:21:55

Hericium erinaceus

According to Wikipedia, the common names for this shaggy mushroom include Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Hedgehog Mushroom, Satyr’s Beard, Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom, pom pom mushroom, and Bearded Tooth Fungus. It is actually edible, and it is also used for medicinal purposes. It is “native to North America, Europe, and Asia.” Wikipedia further notes that “in the wild, these mushrooms are common during late summer and fall on hardwoods, particularly American Beech.”

Source: Hericium erinaceus” – Wikipedia

Hericium erinaceum on an old tree in Shave Wood, New Forest – geograph.org.uk – 254892.jpg

Jim Champion [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hericium erinaceus on an old tree in Shave Wood, New Forest
Hericium erinaceus on an old tree in Shave Wood, New Forest This Hericium erinaceum fungus (also known as “tree hedgehog fungus” or “bearded tooth”) is growing on a wound on the trunk of an old oak tree in Shave Wood. It is classified as endangered in Great Britain, and its distribution is restricted to areas of woodland where there has been a long continuity of old trees.
7 October 2006
Source: From geograph.org.uk

 

Lions Mane (4501233135).jpg

By Jason Hollinger (Lion’s ManeUploaded by Amada44) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hericium erinaceus in US, MD, Big Run State Park
Hericium erinaceus 20091007.175 US, MD, Big Run State Park
7 October 2009, 10:31
Source: Lion’s Mane

Phallus indusiastus

According to Wikipedia, this fungus is “commonly called bamboo fungus, bamboo pith, long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn or veiled lady.” It is found “in southern Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Australia, where it grows in woodlands and gardens in rich soil and well-rotted woody material.”

Wikipedia further notes that “the cap is covered with a greenish-brown spore-containing slime, which attracts flies and other insects that eat the spores and disperse them.” Despite the slime, this fungus is actually edible and widely used in Chinese haute cuisine. Because it “also contains various bioactive compounds, and has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties,” it has also been used in Chinese medicine.

Source: Phallus indusiastus” – Wikipedia

Phallus indusiatus from Kerala, India – 20090824.jpg

By Ajaykuyiloor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

A Bamboo Pith (Phallus indusiatus) from Kerala
A Bamboo Pith (Phallus indusiatus) from Kerala. Christmas Bush (Chromolaena odorata) leaves are also visible.
24 August 2009

Phallus multicolor

According to Wikipedia, this fungus is “found in Australia, Guam, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, Zaire, and Tobago as well as Hawaii.” It is in the same family as Phallus indusiastus and looks similar to it. However, it is smaller than Phallus indusiastus, and it is more brightly colored. I am not sure if it is edible or used for medicinal purposes.

Source: “Phallus multicolor” – Wikipedia

Phallus multicolor.jpg

By Gihan Jayaweera (At Sri Lanka) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Orange and green Phallus multicolor
At Sri Lanka
2013

Creepy Plants

Chiranthodendron pentadactylon

Also called Devil’s hand-flower, monkey hand-flower, and Mexican hand-flower, this tree is native to Guatemala and southern Mexico. According to Wikipedia, the “Aztecs and others have used solutions containing the tree’s flowers as a remedy for lower abdominal pain and for heart problems.”

Source: Chiranthodendron” – Wikipedia

Chiranthodendron pentadactylon 4.jpg

By Stan Stebs [CC-BY-SA-3.0 CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Chiranthodendron pentadactylon (Mexican hand tree) at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, taken June 2005 by User:Stan Shebs
Photo of Chiranthodendron pentadactylon (Mexican hand tree) at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, taken June 2005 by User:Stan Shebs

 

Closer look at the “Devil’s hand”.jpg

By Tatiana Gerus (Flickr: Closer look at the “Devil’s hand”) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

"Devil's hand" out of calyx
Fallen “Devil’s hand” out of calyx . The curious shape of the stamens which are partially united and form a red small hand with hooked fingers.
See notes. Correct me if you know.
Species name Chiranthodendron pentadactylon – the only species of this genus Family: Malvaceae (former Sterculiaceae) Native: America: Mexico – Guatemala Common names: devil’s-hand-tree, Mexican-hand-plant , Monkey’s Hand, árbol de la manita
21 September 2010, 15:43:01
Source: Flickr: Closer look at the “Devil’s hand”

Stenocereus eruca

According to Wikipedia, this cactus is “endemic to the central Pacific coast of Baja California Sur, and is found only on sandy soils, where it forms massive colonies.”

It is commonly called “Creeping Devil” because of its strange growth pattern:

Creeping Devil lies on the ground and grows at one end while the other end slowly dies, with a succession of new roots developing on the underside of the stem. The growth rate is adapted to the moderate, moist marine environment of the Baja peninsula, and can achieve in excess of 60 cm per year, but when transplanted to a hot, arid environment the cacti can grow as little as 60 cm per decade. Over the course of many years, the entire cactus will slowly travel, with stems branching and taking root toward the growing tips, while older stem portions die and disintegrate. This traveling chain of growth gives rise to the name eruca, which means “caterpillar” as well as the common name Creeping Devil.

Stenocereus eruca is considered the “most extreme case of clonal propagation in the cactus family” (Gibson and Nobel, 1986). This means that due to isolation and scarcity of pollinating creatures, the plant is able to clone itself. This is done by pieces detaching from the major shoot as their bases die and rot.

Source: Stenocereus eruca”Wikipedia

Stenocereus eruca 1.jpg

By Stan Stebs [CC-BY-SA-3.0 CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Stenocereus eruca at the University of California Botanical Garden
Photo of Stenocereus eruca at the University of California Botanical Garden, taken June 2006 by User:Stan Shebs

 

Stenocereus eruca, Creeping Devils at Huntington.jpg

By Pamla J. Eisenberg from Anaheim, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Stenocereus eruca, Creeping Devils - Huntington Library Desert Botanical Garden
Stenocereus eruca, Creeping Devils – Huntington Library Desert Botanical Garden in afternoon after and during rain, February 2009 – Various cactus and succulent plants –
11 February 2009, 04:27
Source: Stenocereus eruca, Creeping Devils at Huntington Library Desert Garden

Corymbia calophylla

Wikipedia describes Corymbia calophylla as “a bloodwood native to Western Australia.” It is commonly known as Marri and Port Gregory Gum. The “blood” of the tree is actually red kino or plant gum that comes out of the tree when incisions are made in its trunk.

Sources:

Corymbia calophylla” – Wikipedia

“Kino (gum)” – Wikipedia

Corymbia calophylla kino.jpg

By Hesperian (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Copious flow and puddling of kino from the base of a Corymbia calophylla (Marri).
Copious flow and puddling of kino from the base of a Corymbia calophylla (Marri). This is the source of the common names “Bloodwood” and “Red Gum”.
The tree is located on the roadside near the intersection of South Western Highway and Brockman Highway, just south of Bridgetown, Western Australia.
23 July 2009

Corymbia terminalis

Corymbia terminalis, also known as the Desert Bloodwood, is a tree native to Australia.

Source: Corymbia terminalis” – Wikipedia

Bloodwood Bleeding.jpg

By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Close-up of a bleeding bloodwood tree, corymbia terminalis.
Close-up of a bleeding bloodwood tree, corymbia terminalis. The “blood” sap will soon “coagulate” and close the “wound”.
27 November 2008
Source: Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html

Strangler Figs

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, strangler figs include “many species of tropical figs (genus Ficus) named for their pattern of growth upon host trees, which often results in the host’s death.” A strangler fig begins life as an epiphyte that harmlessly grows upon another tree. However, it eventually develops long roots that create a “strangling latticework” that usually kills its host tree. These bizarre lethal trees are found “in tropical forests throughout the world.”

Source: “Strangler Fig” – Encyclopaedia Britannica

Strangler tree.jpg

By Vinayaraj (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Strangler tree
Strangler tree
14 April 2012

 

Strangler Fig Ta Prohm Angkor1315.jpg

By Michael Gunther (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A strangler fig is attacking a banyan tree, which in turn is attacking the stones of the temple.
A strangler fig is attacking a banyan tree, which in turn is attacking the stones of the temple.
2 August 2014, 23:13:15
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2 thoughts on “Nature’s Halloween Garden

  1. You’ve got to be kidding me. Those fungi are the weirdest ‘shrooms I have ever seen! I’ve never viewed any of these before. I am stumped at Creation’s ingenuity. And the bleeding tree sure reminds me of the supreme sacrifice,
    as if it was the Mother of all ✟’s — to crucify is to unify. (I have no idea where that thought came from. It’s early. 🙂 ) A friggin’ fig I was; a true crawl baby.

    Have a great Sunday! Thanks again for sharing with us! Peace and luvz, UT

    Like

    1. You are welcome. 🙂 I don’t think I have ever seen these fungi before too. I also did not know about the bleeding trees. I can understand the tree wounds reminding you of the wounds Christ received during his crucifixion.

      Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for liking this post. I appreciate your interesting comments. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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