Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!
Basidiospore (mycology noun) [buh-SID-ee-oh-spohr]: A reproductive spore produced by Basidiomycete fungi, a grouping that includes mushrooms, shelf fungi, rusts, smuts, jelly fungi, and others.
On a cool and damp Fall day in High Park, the Friday Fox & Kits club was out and about in the forest, when a bright orange colour caught their eye. A Fan-shaped Jelly Fungus was growing on a nearby log, perfectly at eye level for the early years club participants!
This fungus, with its gelatinous yellow-orange fruiting body, is a basidiomycete, and therefore produces those microscopic basidiospores. As a species of jelly fungus, it does not have pores or gills to support the dispersal of its basidiospores. Instead, the basidiospores will come loose from the surface of the fruiting body for dispersal.
The Fan-shaped Jelly fungus is also a saprophyte (a fungus living on decaying organic material), and as such, the fruiting bodies not only show up in the cracks of fallen logs (like the one in the photo), but also in the cracks of old buildings, where moisture may have seeped into the joints between wood planks.
Keep an eye out for the Fan-shaped jelly fungus, growing on any nearby logs during your next visit to High Park this Fall!
FUN FACT: This fungus’ latin name is Dacryopinax Spathularia. “Spathul”, meaning “little spade” or “little blade”, is referring to the flattened, fan-like shape of the fruiting body.