Save MacRitchie Forest: 12. Mushrooms

posted in: Conservation, Plants | 8

Appeal to Singapore’s Land Transport Authority to re-route the proposed cross-island MRT line away from the MacRitchie forest – sign the petition HERE.

Mushrooms can be every bit as beautiful as butterflies, birds, frogs or even flowers. They have their very own beauty that come in many shapes and colours. In the MacRitchie forest, especially during the wet periods, they sprout out of rotting logs, tree trunks and even the leaves that litter the forest floor. These mushrooms that manifest themselves are actually the reproductive organs. They bear hundreds of thousands of microscopic spores that are released into the air to be dispersed far and wide, to germinate into white strands that grow into the rotting organic matter. These strands are the vegetative parts that usually remain unseen (above).

The MacRitchie forest is rich in mushrooms of many and varied forms. There is one luminous mushroom that few encounter (above). Known by its scientific name of Mycena illuminans, it glows a dull green under total darkness.

The Basket Stinkhorn (Dictyophora multicolor), also known as the phallic mushroom, is relatively common (above left). When in its full glory, it has a lacy yellow vein arising from under the cap and flaring out to cover the stalk. The cap turns black and fetid as the spores mature into a mucilaginous mass. Flies are attracted to the smell of rotting meat to feed on the sticky spores. In the process of feeding, the flies help distribute the spores. The Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus elegans) is also known as Headless Stinkhorn and Devil’s Dipstick. It grows singly or in small groups from woody debris or leaf litter. There is a slender curved stalk ending in a pointed tip. The upper half is bright red to red-orange. With spore maturity there is a foul odour and the upper third of the stalk that bears the spores turns greenish brown (above right).

On rotting logs on the forest floor develop thin, leathery Polypore (Polyporus sp.) (above) or Giant puffballs (?Calvatia sp.). The somewhat flattened spherical structure ruptures to disperse the powdery spores as raindrops fall, or animals trample on it (below).

Colourful Jelly Fungus (Dacrymyce sp.) has it’s a gelatinous, orange fruiting body as seen below.

Local mushrooms, especially those found in the forest have not been well studied locally. Thus many forms remain unidentified, as seen in the slender, gilled mushroom below.

A note of caution: Many of these mushrooms can be poisonous. Even if a mushroom looks very much like an edible species that someone has been collecting and eating regularly back home in the temperate region, the tropical look-alike can be deadly poisonous. You have been warned.

Credit: Johnny Wee (luminous fungus), YC Wee (all other images).

Earlier Posts:
1. Saving MacRitchie forest: A youngster’s view LINK
2: Introduction LINK
3: Flying Lemur LINK
4: Mammals LINK
5. Fragile frogs and tender tadpoles LINK
6. Refuge for reptiles LINK
7. Eco-performance LINK
8. You can’t see the wood from the trees LINK
9. Sanctuary for spiders LINK
10. Chained to our roots LINK
11. Plants LINK
12. Birds and their status.LINK

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