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Word of the Week: Gleba

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Gleba [GLEE-buh](noun): a solid mass of spores found in certain fungi

If you have taken a hike through the trails in High Park, especially after rainfall, you may have noticed that the park is home to an abundance of diverse fungi species. Popular among children, one particularly fun fungus friend is the puffball, which can typically be seen in the late summer and early fall.

Puffballs, as well as other fungi families such as stinkhorns, contain a spore tissue called gleba. Gleba is produced in the sporocarp (a spore-producing structure also known as a fruitbody), and is enclosed by a layer called the peridium, which supports and protects the gleba until it is ready to be released.

The appearance and texture of gleba are diverse and vary between species. On stinkhorns, the gleba is a sticky mass that grows on the exterior of the fruitbody, emitting a foul smell that helps attract insects that help disperse the spores.

In puffballs, gleba start off as a pale white colour. It gradually darkens to a yellow or brown colour as it matures, eventually turning into a dry, powdery mass that is dispersed by wind or rain.