August Salt Spring Island Fungus of the Month: Fomitopsis pinacola

August's Fungus of the Month is this young Fomitopsis, beaded with liquid even during the dryest part of the year. It's too young to tell which exact species this is, since it hasn't formed a cap yet. Fomitopsis, especially the Fomitopsis pinicola complex, are well-known for producing liquid.

observation by dianalynn1

The secretion of liquid by plants or fungi is called "guttation". It is not purely water; it is often pigmented and may contain chemicals manufactured by the fungus. Penicillium species secrete penicillin in their guttation.

Here are a few more bracket fungi seen on the Rock with guttation droplets:

observation by caladri

observation by caladri

observation by caladri

It's not just bracket fungi; many other species are known to exude droplets. The most dramatic example is Hydnellum peckii, the Bleeding Hydnellum, which produces copious and ominous red guttation. The pigment that gives the droplets their colour is atromentin, which is an anticoagulant. Consuming enough atromentin from a Bleeding Hydnellum would also cause internal bleeding in a human, though they taste so terrible there are no recorded poisonings. There aren't any observations of it listed on this site from Salt Spring Island, but it is occasionally seen on Vancouver Island, and could occur here as well. Here's one from Vancouver Island:

observation by jeremy_sea

I'd love to go into the science behind guttation. However, this is going to be a short post: we don't know why fungi do this, or whether they all do it for the same reason. For more information, here's a great article by Jan Thornhill discussing what little we know and the ongoing research.

Posted by corvi corvi, September 28, 2019 23:46

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