Observation 116199: Chorioactis geaster (Peck) Kupfer ex Eckblad
When: 2006-08-01
No herbarium specimen

Notes: Date is approximate.

from http://pinktentacle.com/tag/nara/:

begin quote


One of the world’s rarest fungi, an exotic star-shaped mushroom known to exist at only three locations on Earth, has been discovered in the mountains of Nara prefecture.

The Devil’s Cigar (a.k.a. “Texas Star”) — known to botanists as Chorioactis geaster — had been observed only in central Texas and at two remote locations in Japan prior to the recent discovery in Nara. The peculiar fungus is described as a dark brown cigar-shaped capsule that transforms into a tan-colored star when it splits open to release its spores. It is also one of only a few known fungi that produce an audible hiss when releasing spores.

First reported in 1893 in Austin, Texas, the curious mushroom appears in a limited area of central Texas each year, and until now, the rare sightings in Japan have occurred in forests in Miyazaki and Kochi prefectures. The fungus is included on the red list of threatened species published by Japan’s Environment Ministry.

The recent Nara discovery was made by Masakuni Kimura, curator of a natural history museum in the town of Kawakami (Nara prefecture). Kimura first encountered Devil’s Cigars in October 2006 while surveying a forest near Kawakami, where he found 12 of them growing from a dead oak tree next to a mountain stream at an elevation of 470 meters (about 1,550 ft). Nearly a year later, in September 2007, he discovered four more of the mushrooms when he returned to the site with Shuichi Kurogi, curator of the Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History. Their findings were presented at a recent meeting of the Mycological Society of Japan.

The site of the Nara discovery, like the previous Miyazaki and Kochi sites, is located in a humid forest. At all three sites, the Devil’s Cigars were observed growing on dead oak trees near a stream.

In central Texas (which is located at approximately the same latitude as southern Japan), the rare fungus appears during fall and winter, growing from the stumps and dead roots of cedar elm trees.

Tsuyoshi Hosoya, head botanist at Japan’s National Science Museum, says, “The DNA of the Devil’s Cigar from Miyazaki is consistent with the one from Texas. They are regarded as the same species.”

While it is unknown how this exceedingly rare mushroom came to appear only in Japan and central Texas, one intriguing theory suggests that spores from Japan were swept up in an Asian dust cloud and carried across the globe.


end quote

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By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2012-11-09 02:19:13 PST (-0800)

Texas State Fungus?

Forrest Mims III and others are pursuing legislation to have the Texas legislature recognize the Devil’s Cigar Fungus as the Official State Fungus of Texas. This proposed legislation was introduced in 1997.

By Harris……………………………………………………………………………………………..S.C.R. No. 27

75R4157 WMS-D………………………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………….CONCURRENT RESOLUTION…………………………………………….

1-1 WHEREAS, The State of Texas has traditionally recognized a
1-2 variety of terrestrial symbols as tangible representations of the
1-3 proud spirit and heritage of our state; and
1-4 WHEREAS, The bluebonnet, the pecan tree, the armadillo, and
1-5 the lightning whelk are examples of some natural specimens that
1-6 serve to symbolize the great diversity of the Texas landscape, a
1-7 landscape that is unparalleled in both its scope and its rugged
1-8 beauty; and
1-9 WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of the
1-10 Devil’s Cigar Fungus as the Official State Fungus of Texas would
1-11 provide suitable recognition for this rare mycological inhabitant
1-12 of the Lone Star State; and
1-13 WHEREAS, The Devil’s Cigar Fungus, known to scientists as
1-14 Chorioactis geaster, features a long, tapering, dark-brown
1-15 apothecium, which sometimes reaches a height of up to four inches;
1-16 and
1-17 WHEREAS, This distinctive fungus releases its spores in a
1-18 singularly dramatic fashion that earned the plant its common name;
1-19 when ready, the Devil’s Cigar Fungus splits open with an audible
1-20 hiss, filling the air with a cloud of spores that waft away to help
1-21 ensure a future generation of life for the species; and
1-22 WHEREAS, An exceedingly unusual specimen, the Devil’s Cigar
1-23 Fungus makes its home on decaying hardwood stumps and exposed roots
1-24 and grows domestically only in Central and North Texas, including
2-1 Travis, Tarrant, and Dallas counties; outside of Texas, it has been
2-2 found only in Japan; and
2-3 WHEREAS, The Devil’s Cigar Fungus is as uncommon and striking
2-4 as the state that serves as its home, and its unique attachment to
2-5 Texas makes it a fitting symbol of the Lone Star State; now,
2-6 therefore, be it
2-7 RESOLVED, That the 75th Legislature of the State of Texas
2-8 hereby designate the Devil’s Cigar Fungus as the Official State
2-9 Fungus of Texas.

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlo/75R/billtext/SC00027I.HTM

Created: 2012-11-09 02:17:42 PST (-0800)
Last modified: 2012-11-09 02:17:43 PST (-0800)
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