Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. Interestingly enough these little fellows don’t actually belong to the Plantae kingdom at all…
Coprinellus disseminatus (known as Fairies’ Bonnets in English or Bondelinkmus in Afrikaans) belong to their own unique kingdom – Fungi. Fungi can be classed into 2 major groups – micro (scopic) or macrofungi. Fungi are either saprobic (deriving nourishment from decaying organisms) or pathogenic (disease causing) and in essence facilitate the cycle of life to death to life again. Fungi have been associated with plants, wild animals and humans since time immemorial.
C. disseminatus may be found growing on woody material, such as fallen logs and the likes and even grows on ground in close proximity to decaying wood. The fruit bodies are clustered in groups and are attached to the substrate by a stipe. Unlike most coprenoid class fungi, these do not dissolve into a black-gooey ink-like mess when mature.These little mushrooms are widelly distributed throughout S.A. and “fruit” (refering to the development of the visible section of the fungus above-ground) in summer. The cap (up to 20 mm) is roughly oval or hemispherical. The margin or rim is even with a grooved surface that is cream-white and eventually fading to grey-brown with a brownish central spot. The stipe or fungal stem, is both central and slender and always short. It is also cylindrical, white, hollow, ringless and fragile. The lamellae (underside of the cap) is white and fades to either grey or black with time. The flesh of the cap is very thin and almost odourless.
C. disseminatus are actually edible, however they shrink so much during cooking that unless you have access to a large grove of them, they are virtually useless for that purpose.