I recently embarked on a wildlife photography adventure in the lush Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. As I was hiking along a shaded forest path, a bright splash of yellow on the floor caught my eye. To my delight, it was a pair of Calostoma Lutescens, more commonly known as the yellow-stalked puffball. This fungus species has a unique and eye-catching appearance that I was thrilled to capture through my lens.
I was fortunate enough to photograph two specimens side-by-side. The surrounding bed of damp leaves and speckled sunlight filtering through the trees added to the magical fairytale forest feeling this scene evoked.
As a lover of nature, discovering new-to-me species out in habitats is always an exhilarating and educational experience. Thanks to the supportive online foraging community, I was quickly able to identify this fungus as the Calostoma Lutescens species which is occasionally found in the southern Appalachians. Though this fungus is not toxic, it is not typically consumed. As with any wild mushrooms, caution must be exercised before ingesting.
This chance encounter was the perfect example of being in the right place at the right time to capture rarely seen natural beauty through my photography. I’m endlessly grateful for moments like these that reconnect me with nature as well as expand my knowledge of wondrous fungi in my own backyard! Let me know in the comments if you have spotted the Calostoma Lutescens out in your own explorations!
Calostoma lutescens, is a unique species of fungus with several distinctive features:
- It belongs to the suborder Sclerodermatineae within the order Boletales and is one of the 20 gasteroid fungi in the Calostoma genus.
- The fungus consists of two gasterocarps, which are spherical gleba (spore sacs) covered in a yellow peridium atop tall golden stalks of intertwined hyphae that resemble pasta or spaghetti squash. At the apex of each gleba are pink to red star-shaped pores, and the spores are white to gray.
- Calostoma lutescens is ectomycorrhizal with oak species and is typically found in deciduous, temperate, tropical, or subtropical forests.
- It is relatively uncommon to come across this species in certain regions, such as the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas, making its discovery particularly exciting.
- The fungus has a distinctive appearance with its bright yellow stalk and spherical, spiky fruiting body, and its spores are dispersed by the wind to propagate the species.
- While Calostoma lutescens is not considered toxic, it is not typically used for culinary purposes, and caution should be exercised with all wild mushrooms and fungi.
These unique characteristics make Calostoma lutescens an intriguing and visually striking species of fungus, adding to the biodiversity of the ecosystems where it is found.