tempus fugit

By ceridwen

A minor adjustment

I dropped down through the steep wood to follow a fresh badger trail. Inhaling the understorey's  garlicky aroma and slithering on damp leaf mould  I noticed wood anemones in bloom and the ruby shoots of Japanese knotweed pushing through beside the river (not welcome but doing no harm  down here). I was looking for the rotten tree trunk that had stood covered in turkey tail fungi when I spotted it a few weeks ago.

I found it but  it had fallen, more or less intact, and was now resting  prone with its previously-ascending rungs of flat fungal brackets pointing upwards as if in a dish rack. Ah, but how interesting: the mushroom had compensated! New growth had fanned out from the edge of each flap  according to the trunk's new position vis-a-vis the ground. This is gravitropism at work: the fungal cells sense a change relative to gravity and readjust according to the new plane of the fruiting body. Why? Because the horizontal plane is the optimal one for releasing spores, just as you would use a sugar shaker downwards not sideways or up.

There's a very interesting and not-too-technical explanation of all this here.
I've added a few more pics of these curious fungal contortions.
You never know what you may find in the woods.

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