A parasite’s life to feed on surrounding hosts. A fragile beauty.
This week we will leave the Kingdom Plantae and enter the Kingdom Fungi; the realm of the mushroom. I have seen a lot of mushrooms on the hunts for wildflowers but I did not pay much attention to them. Then, while hunting in the Estero Buffer Preserve, I spotted an orange mushroom growing on a dead log. I photographed it and moved on. A few weeks later, while wading, almost swimming, in a Picayue Strand Cypress Swamp, I spotted the orange mushroom again and decided to write about it.
This orange mushroom is a Nestcap mushroom, Phyllotopsis nidulans. Nestcap attaches to dead logs with edge of its cap. This species does not have a stem. The cap is one to four inches in width. Like all species of fungi, Nestcap does not have chlorophyll to make its own food. It also does not have stems, leaves, flowers, roots, or seeds. So, it must live, as a parasite, on other living or dead organisms. Nestcap is made up of fibers called mycelium which can absorb and transport nutrients. Nestcap has individual fibers called hyphae that penetrates that surrounding soil or dead wood to absorb nutrients.
The Nestcap mushroom is found from Alaska to Costa Rica. If you happen to find this mushroom in the wild, do not smell it as you would a flower. It has a disagreeable odor.
Ref: Peterson Field Guides – Mushrooms.