Last night I began editing 170 photos, plus. I came across several pics of the mushroom and then I looked in Google to find the name. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that “my mushroom” is a rarity. Literature says it springs forth near the base of a stump or dead roots of the Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifoli). I don’t remember when that tree was felled. There are other Cedar Elms that are alive and thriving in my yard.
Chorioactis geaster is called Devil’s cigar and also Texas star. It emerges from the soil in the shape of a dark cigar and then bursts open to reveal a rather unusual and pretty mushroom. It is found in one other country. In Japan the mushrooms appear on exposed trunks or branches of a dead oak. Deforestation in Japan has caused this mushroom to be considered a rarity and has been placed on the endangered species list.
This mushroom is referred to as saprotrophic which means it absorbs and metabolizes on a molecular scale for its nutrition. According to literature it’s found in very moist areas. The one in my yard is near the goat’s pen. His water bucket often overflows because I am a lame brain and have my eyes scanning the bushes and trees for birds and in the warm months looking toward the butterfly garden. I’ve left the hose running for hours and a few times over night. I tend to become absorbed in other attractions and then forget to turn off the hydrant.
Texas stars appear only during fall and winter but sometimes as late as April. I found this one on Christmas Day after walking back to the house after I had fed Billy Bob, my goat. The mushroom had emerged from the moist soil near a very intact old stump. At the time I had no idea this one species is rare and found only in several counties of central and northeastern Texas. McLennan county, where I live, is not listed as one of the counties where it has been seen. So maybe this is a first recorded sighting. I have no idea if my photo record would be accepted by the science community. Experts are very particular in what they consider as an accepted record.