Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus

Bear’s head tooth fungus look like something from a fantasy dream.

  • Bear’s head tooth fungus is a species of fungus with a shaggy appearance, native to eastern parts of the United States.
  • The scientific name of the bear’s head tooth fungus is Hericium americanum and it is from the family Hericiaceae, a family of fungi.
  • ‘Bear’s head tooth fungi’ are also known as ‘bear’s head mushrooms’ and ‘pom pom blanc’, and were first scientifically described by James Ginns of Canada, in 1984.
  • Bear’s head tooth fungus was once classified as Hericium coralloides, however this name was later applied to a different species in the genus, hence the change.
  • The tooth-like appendages of bear’s head tooth fungus grow on branches as the fungus grows, and it forms to create a mop-like appearance.
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A Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus
Image courtesy of Brian Gratwicke/Flickr
  • Bear’s head tooth fungi grow on both rotting and living woods, mostly hardwood types, and they are typically seen in the wild during the late summer and autumn months, though they are able to be cultivated.
  • The ‘teeth’ of bear’s head tooth fungi reach 0.5 to 4 centimetres (0.2 to 1.6 inches) in length, and a whole fungus can spread to a total width of 15 to 30 centimetres (6 to 12 inches).
  • Bear’s head tooth fungus is a white colour, although as it becomes older, the teeth tend to have a yellow or brown tinge.
  • Young bear’s head tooth fungus can be cooked and eaten, having a taste comparable to that of lobster, though once picked the fungi do not store well, and need to be consumed within a couple of days, otherwise they will become bitter.
  • High amounts of vitamin D are found in bear’s head tooth fungus, and it also contains significant quantities of protein and fibre, as well as other beneficial health properties that are still being understood.
Bibliography:
Bear’s Head Mushrooms, n.d, Specialty Produce, http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Bears_Head_Mushrooms_11322.php
Emberger G, Hericium americanum, 2008, Messiah College, http://www.messiah.edu/Oakes/fungi_on_wood/teeth%20and%20spine/species%20pages/Hericium%20americanum.htm
Kuo M, Hericium americanum, 2003, Mushroom Expert, http://www.mushroomexpert.com/hericium_americanum.html
Volk T & Westmoreland S, Tom Volk’s Fungus of the Month for January 2003, 2003, University of Wisconsin, http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/jan2003.html

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White Baneberry

Do you have that feeling that you are being watched… perhaps by the white baneberry?

  • White baneberries are a species of perennial wildflower, found in forests in the east of North America.
  • The white baneberry plant is also known as ‘doll’s eyes’, due to the plant’s berries having a similar appearance to antique doll’s eyes.
  • The scientific name of the white baneberry is Actaea pachypoda, and it is from the family Ranunculaceae, the family of buttercups.
  • White baneberry plants typically grow to be 46 to 76 centimetres (1.5 to 2.5 feet) in height, and they have a diameter of 60 to 90 centimetres (2 to 3 feet).
  • White coloured flowers are produced by white baneberries, and they feature from four to ten petals and many stamens.
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White Baneberry
Image courtesy of Benet/Flickr
  • White baneberry plants are known for their fruit that grow on maroon coloured branches, and the berries are coloured white with a centrally located black to purple spot, giving the appearance of an eye.
  • The blooms of white baneberries flower during the later months of spring and early summer, after which the berries are produced in summer.
  • White baneberry plants grow best in partly shady conditions or in full shade, in moist soil that drains well and contains a significant quantity of organic matter.
  • All parts of the white baneberry plant can be fatally toxic to most mammals, potentially causing cardiac arrest on consumption, although birds are able to consume the fruit.
  • The seeds of white baneberry fruits are dispersed through bird droppings, or by simply dropping from the plant.
Bibliography:
Actaea pachypoda, n.d, Encyclopedia of Life, http://eol.org/pages/595010/details
Actaea pachypoda, n.d, Missouri Botanical Garden, http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=h520
Actaea pachypoda, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actaea_pachypoda
Hilty J, Doll’s Eyes, 2015, Illinois Wildflowers, http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/doll_eyes.htm

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Jakkalskos

Jakkalskos have their own unique way of getting things done.

  • Jakkalskos is a species of parasitic, leafless plant, native to areas mostly in the south of the African continent.
  • ‘Jakkalskos’ is an Afrikaans term for the plant, which is also known as ‘bobbejaankos’ in Afrikaans, with respective literal meanings ‘jackal food’ and ‘baboon food’ in English.
  • The scientific name of the jakkalskos is Hydnora africana and it is from the family Hydnoraceae, a family of parasitic plants that flower.
  • Jakkalskos plants lack an above ground stem and develop almost entirely in the soil, only bursting forth from the ground to reveal their bloom once ample rain has occurred.
  • When mature, the height of the jakkalskos plant above ground, is simply the size of the flower, which typically grows to be 10 to 15 centimetres (4 to 6 inches) tall.
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A Jakkalskos Flower
Image courtesy of Derek Keats/Flickr
  • The bloom colour of a jakkalskos ranges from orange to pink or red, while the plant’s outer body is brown to black in colour, depending on the age of the flower.
  • Jakkalskos flowers emit a pungent smell, comparable to that of animal waste, which allures its pollinators, mostly carrion and dung beetles.
  • As a parasite, the jakkalskos plant’s thick root-like system will attach itself to the roots of a host plant of the Euphorbia genus, from which it leeches the other plant’s nutrients.
  • Filaments connect the sepals of the jakkalskos flower before it fully opens, and these serve as an obstacle to somewhat trap a beetle inside the flower to cause effective pollination, and once the flower develops and opens, the beetle is released.
  • After flowering, a jakkalskos plant usually produces a fruit in the soil, up to 8 cm (3 inches) in diameter, that contains roughly 20,000 seeds, and the fruit is edible and commonly eaten by some animals including jackals and baboons.
Bibliography:
Grant A, Hydnora Africana Plant Info – What Is Hydnora Africana, 2016, Gardening Know How, http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/hydnora/hydnora-africana-plant-info.htm
Hydnora Africana, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydnora_africana
Hydnora Africana, n.d, Botanical Society of America, http://botany.org/Parasitic_Plants/Hydnora_africana.php
Voigt W, Hydrona Africana, 2008, South African National Biodiversity Institute, http://www.plantzafrica.com/planthij/hydnorafric.htm

 

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Wreath Lechenaultia

Wreath lechenaultias really brighten up the Australian desert.

  • Wreath lechenaultias are perennial plants, native to the woodland and desert habitats of the Southwest Australia savanna area, located in
    the Australian state of Western Australia.
  • The scientific name of a wreath lechenaultia plant is Lechenaultia macrantha and it is from the family Goodeniaceae, a family of flowering plants.
  • Wreath lechenaultias generally grow to a height of up to 15 centimetres (6 inches) and reach a diameter of 1 metre (3.3 feet).
  • The blooms of wreath lechenaultia plants typically range from pink to red, and they are a white or yellow colour in the middle.
  • Wreath lechenaultias grow best in full sun and in a fairly dry, well-drained soil that consists of sand or small pebbles.
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A Wreath Lechenaultia
Image courtesy of Derrin Images
  • Wreath lechenaultia plants bloom during late winter months and spring, and the flowers are usually produced around the outer edge of the plant, forming a wreath-like shape around the foliage.
  • Each flower of the wreath lechenaultia plant consists of five petals and is roughly 3 to 3.5 centimetres (1.2 to 1.4 inches) in diameter.
  • Wreath lechenaultias are commonly grown for decorative purposes, both on the ground or in hanging baskets, though they tend to be difficult to grow.
  • Kurt Krausse, a German botanist, was the first to scientifically describe the wreath lechenaultia, doing so in 1912.
  • Wreath lechenaultia plants tend to sprout after the event of a bushfire, and new plants can be grown from cuttings.
Bibliography:
Lechenaultia Macrantha, 2010, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lechenaultia_macrantha
Lechenaultia Macrantha, 2016, Australian native Plants Society (Australia), http://anpsa.org.au/l-macr.html
Lechenaultia Macrantha (Wreath Lechenaultia), 2016, Home Design Directory, http://www.homedesigndirectory.com.au/gardening/plant-finder/plant-descriptions/lechenaultia-macrantha/?plant-id=449
Lechenaultia Macrantha – Wreath Lechenaultia, n.d, Gardening With Angus, http://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/lechenaultia-macrantha-wreath-lechenaultia/

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Parrot’s Beak

Parrot’s beaks are delicate bursts of vivid colour.

  • Parrot’s beaks are a species of perennial flowering plant, native solely to the Canary Islands, located off the north-west coast of Africa.
  • The scientific name of the parrot’s beak plant is Lotus berthelotii and it is from the family Fabaceae, the family of legumes.
  • The blooms of parrot’s beaks are red to orange coloured and resemble the beak of a parrot.
  • ‘Parrot’s beaks’ are also known as ‘coral gems’, ‘pelican’s beaks’,  ‘lotus vines’, ‘cat claws’, and ‘pigeon beaks’ or by the Spanish for the same name – ‘pico de paloma’.
  • A parrot’s beak plant will generally grow to a height of 15 to 30 centimetres (6 to 12 inches), and it is a creeper, so it tends to spread to a diameter of approximately 61 cm (24 inches) if grown on the ground.
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Parrot’s Beak
Image courtesy of Emma Forsberg/Flickr
  • Parrot’s beaks typically bloom during the late spring and early summer months.
  • Parrot’s beaks grow best in conditions of full sun, and while they can be grown in part shade, they will usually not produce as many flowers.
  • The leaves of parrot’s beaks are small and very narrow, and are a green-grey in colour.
  • Parrot’s beaks are fittingly pollinated by birds, and are extremely rare or extinct in the wild.
  • The parrot’s beak plant is typically grown for ornamental purposes, especially as a ground cover or carpet, and it is also grown in hanging baskets or pots.
Bibliography:
Lotus berthelotii, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_berthelotii
Parrot’s Beak, 2016, Better Homes & Gardens, http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/annual/parrots-beak/
Parrot’s Beak, Coral Gem, Pelican’s Beak, 2016, Dave’s Garden, http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/1250/#b
Plant Profiles: Lotus Berthelotii, 2013, Garden at Heart, http://gardenatheart.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/plant-profiles-lotus-berthelotii.html

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Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate cosmos is a delicacy for the eyes.

  • Chocolate cosmos are a species of perennial flowering plant, that originated in Mexico.
  • ‘Chocolate cosmos’ is also known as ‘black cosmos’ and was once known as ‘black biden’.
  • The scientific name of chocolate cosmos is Cosmos atrosanguineus, formerly Bidens atrosanguineus, and it is from the family Asteraceae, the family of daisies.
  • Chocolate cosmos generally grow to be around 40 to 75 centimetres (1.3 to 2.5 feet) in height.
  • Chocolate cosmos are believed to be extinct in the wild, while many specimens today are clones of a non-fertile specimen, so those will not produce fertile seed.
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A Chocolate Cosmos
Image courtesy of Amanda Slater/Flickr
  • The blooms of chocolate cosmos plants are a deep brown to maroon colour, and they have a fragrance reminiscent of chocolate.
  • Chocolate cosmos grow best in sunny or mostly sunny conditions, and the plants grow from tubers that enable them to be divided.
  • Chocolate cosmos plants prefer warm climates if they are to be grown all year round, and they typically bloom during summer months and into early autumn.
  • Seed merchant, William Thompson from Ipswich in England, was the first known person to cultivate a chocolate cosmos plant, doing so in 1835, and the plant was described by English botanist, Joseph Hooker, shortly after, who obtained a specimen from Thompson.
  • Chocolate cosmos are commonly grown in gardens for decorative purposes or as cut flowers.
Bibliography:
Cosmos, 2016, Pacific Bulb Society, http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Cosmos
Cosmos atrosanguineus, 2016, Heritage Perennials, http://www.perennials.com/plants/cosmos-atrosanguineus.html
Cosmos atrosanguineus, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmos_atrosanguineus
Schneider A, Caring for Chocolate Cosmos Plants: Growing Chocolate Cosmos Flowers, 2016, Gardening Know How, http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/cosmos/growing-chocolate-cosmos.htm

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