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INTRODUCTION

Fungi are organisms who need no introduction and it comes as now surprise that they were one of the most abundant organisms. However, like some organisms that are not found in back on HE but evolved here in Spec, fungi are no exception at all. During expeditions during the late 2000's, a multitude of species of fungi were discovered here that can't be found on our HE, thanks to the work of an individual named Emile "Sphenacodon" Moacdieh.

SPECIES OF FUNGI

Cancrinemesis (Cancrinemesis insidiator)

Cancrinemesis by sphenacodon

The fungi of Spec fill the same position as they do on HE, and little seems to be changed. As decomposers seemingly straddling the line between animals and plants, fungi exist as microscopic filamentous mycelia that digest food. The mushrooms that laymen associate with fungi are merely the reproductive structures of the hidden mycelium. Fungi can be classified according to their reproductive technique. Chytrids are microscopic, flagellated parasites of amphibians. Zygomycetes, on the other hand, include yeasts and blights. Ascomycetes, including cup fungi and morels, bear their spores in sac-shaped asci; while Basidiomycetes, the familiar mushrooms, carry their spores on club-like structures. As decomposers, detritivores, and parasites, fungi are enormously important to the ecosystem. Listed here are some of Spec’s more distinctive and important fungus species.

Cancrinemesis insidiator is one of the few natural predators of carbuncles. This ascomycete’s spores work their way through chinks in the crab’s armor, and the growing mycelium devours muscle and tissue. Eventually, it attacks the nervous system, altering the crab’s behavior and forcing it to climb to the top of a tree branch. There, the lanky mushroom emerges from the already-dead carbuncle, to waft its spores off in search of other victims. The mushroom has no culinary value, but is presently being sold unscrupulously, without scientific grounding or approval, as an aphrodisiac.

Sombrero Mushroom (Sombreroceps flavus)

Sombrero mushroom by sphenacodon

The sombrero mushroom (Sombreroceps flavus) is a wide-brimmed, yellow mushroom of the Americas. The broad, glistening cap and hearty smell (of rotting flesh) serves as an attractant to flies, which clamber all over the mushroom. By the time the flies disperse, they have already dusted themselves with spores, which are then dispersed as they fly. Sombrero mushrooms are edible and quite tasty, but when eaten in conjunction with chocolate, they produce severe gastric upset, vomiting, and dramatic hallucinations.

Dancing Gypsy (Calliamanita rosaliae)

Dancing gypsy by sphenacodon

Dancing gypsies (Calliamanita rosaliae) are unmistakable, with a pronounced “skirt” formed from the remnants of the volval sac. The dainty appearance of this European mushroom is further accented by its pinkish coloration and tendency to grow at a slight angle, further adding to the “dancing” effect. The dancing gypsy mushrooms are unmistakable – which is just as well, since they are among the most venomous mushrooms on the planet, their paralyzing toxins accounting for over 70% of all fatal intoxications of unwary spexplorers.

The largest mushroom on Spec is the ruby puffball (Rubrititan vagus), which can grow up to the size of a melon. Rubies thrive in South America, where they go largely uneaten despite their distinctive appearance – bright red with sparkling flecks interspersed liberally. This is likely due to their defense mechanism, consisting of ejecting a cloud of irritating spores in all directions when touched. The spores can stick to surfaces, further adding to the aggravation and helping to spread them. Nonetheless, if picked young, red giants make decent, satisfying eating.

Green Gnome (Mycognomus sylvestris)

Green gnome by sphenacodon

Green bearded milk-caps or green gnomes (Mycognomus sylvestris) are unusual hairy milk-cap mushrooms of European forests. The stalk of these greenish mushrooms is bent forward, usually propped up against a host tree. The cap is abundantly woolly and asymmetrical, and gives the impression of a bearded head. With some imagination, these fungi can be seen as little gnomes reclining against a tree. Spores are ejected in a copious flow of “milk” that drips down the beard, and gives the green gnome a strong smell of aniseed. Once washed free of its milk, a green gnome is suitable for eating and is deliciously succulent.

Gargoyle Mushroom (Cathedramyces solemna)

Gargoyle mushroom by sphenacodon

Gargoyle mushrooms (Cathedramyces solemna) are bracket fungi found throughout Europe and Asia. In addition to being gray in color and pebbly in texture, gargoyle mushrooms have a tendency to grow in odd directions and developing entirely random growths. In time, a mature bracket develops a baroque appearance worthy of any medieval gargoyle. Growths of these fungi on moss-covered trees lend the plant a surreal appearance. Gargoyle fungi themselves are inedible and rank-tasting, and do not look enticing either. When cut, they smell of toothpaste.

Doughnut fungi (Cyclomyces sp.)

Doughnut fungus by sphenacodon

Doughnut fungi (Cyclomyces sp.) are bizarre ascomycete mushrooms unique to Spec. Taking the “fairy ring” mushroom to a new dimension, doughnut fungi produce a single, circular fungus with a hole in the middle. Spores are borne on the upper ring of the doughnut, where they can be scattered. Size varies, with the widest doughnuts being the narrowest, and the smallest doughnuts lacking the central hole altogether. Despite a sometimes appetizing appearance, doughnut fungi are inedible, with one species (the strawberry doughnut C. fragola) being dangerously venomous.

Barbell Bolete (p-Boletus elephantopus)

Barbell bolete by sphenacodon

The barbell bolete (p-Boletus elephantopus), also known as stout-foot cep, is a large forest bolete, unmistakable with its fleshy brown cap and massive wrinkled foot. Yielding tender and delicious white flesh in large quantities, this mushroom is among the most sought-after by Spec-gourmets. The comparable red and white-spotted king bolete (p-Boletus miyamotoi), though less tasty, is also exploited as a source of vitamins and energy. Neither should be confused with the deceptively similar addercushion (p-Boletus diabolus), which can cause severe poisoning.

Red Cap ( Amanita sanguifluus)

Red cap by sphenacodon

Red caps ( Amanita sanguifluus) are another species of highly toxic amanita; ingestion of a red cap causes violent vomiting, fever, convulsions, and death in the worst of cases. Common across northern Europe, these mushrooms have a bright scarlet cap. To release the spores, the cap dissolves into a red liquid not unlike blood, in which the spores dissipate. While venomous, the liquefying caps of this mushroom are highly effective textile dyes. Caution should be maintained, though – the fumes from a red cap preparation can cause blindness. Minute portions can be used safely as emetics.

Sapphire Birdbath (Acrocupula hydrophora)

Sapphire birdbath by sphenacodon

Sapphire birdbaths (Acrocupula hydrophora) are sizeable cup fungi of the tropics. The large, cup-shaped cap can hold water, which is used by various small animals and insects as a source of hydration. Some insects even lay their eggs in the water, and the very smallest of frogs, lizards, and hummingbirds use the tiny pool to refresh themselves. Spores are produced along the leading edge of the cup and shed liberally into accumulated water, where visiting animals pick them up and carry them off. By night, the inside of the cup glows. Birdbath mushrooms themselves are quite unpalatable.

Ruby Puffball (Rubrititan vagus)

Ruby puffball by sphenacodon

The largest mushroom on Spec is the ruby puffball (Rubrititan vagus), which can grow up to the size of a melon. Rubies thrive in South America, where they go largely uneaten despite their distinctive appearance – bright red with sparkling flecks interspersed liberally. This is likely due to their defense mechanism, consisting of ejecting a cloud of irritating spores in all directions when touched. The spores can stick to surfaces, further adding to the aggravation and helping to spread them. Nonetheless, if picked young, red giants make decent, satisfying eating.

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