VIII. The mealy branch-fungi. (Ramaria farinosa)

Fig. VI.

The fungus has stunted branches with a powdery surface. The stem is by the larger ones short, uneven thick, and angular: the stem by the others is longer, thin, slender, almost even thick and a little flattened.

The branches are quite short and covered with a white loose mealy crust that rubs off. A few of the branches seem interrupted and have coloured ends. The root is soft; little branched, sticky, spreading and fixed in insects.

The young ones look like a long stalky gnarled snow-white club fungi (Clavaria ?). They have a smooth dense and compact mealy crust. During maturation it loosens and falls off, first at the stem where it is quite thin, subsequently from the branches where it is more than three times as thick and looks like powder in hair. Through a magnifying glass you become aware of a fine frizzy fluff in the tissue of which this dust sits. When it is all gone the whole fungus appears yellow with a smooth skin, the branches thinner and more separated with sharp edged ends. The substance is dry and flexible with a little sweetish taste, especially the powder, but I have also found it a little biting afterwards.

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Already in July I have seen a few, but they were very poor; later on they become bigger and more frequent, mainly late in October and November. The fungus is found in Zealand on the south side of Bagsværd Lake and in Jutland near the castle of Marselliesborg. Often beneath shrubbery, as well as between leaf litter, moss-roots, and loosely on the earth’s crust.

This branch-fungus has a common origin with the Battle-club (Cordyceps militatis ?). It is the second fungus in this country; I know to arise from insects.

At first sight it is very similar with an illustration of Torrubias (animal-plant)

But the latter is described to be sharp and spiky. In illustrations it also looks more like a plant with leaves than a fungus. Mine on the other hand is soft and mealy. The insects they arise from are quite different. Denmark though it is cold, produces two separate fungal species which groves from insects, just as seen in Cuba and St. Domingo in the Caribbean.

The fungus occurs much more numerously on its locations than the battle-club; but it is much smaller and less impressive.

I think I have found three if not more species of insects different from those attacked by the Battle-club. I think these insects belong to the Night-Moth genus (Phalæna Noctua). Most of them come form pupae, for not one out of a hundred is to be found on larvae (this last sentence is freely translated). This I how it is here, maybe it is differently elsewhere.

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There is no doubt that this mealy fungus grove in a similar way as the Battle-club. Therefore all that I have written under this fungus about this subject is the same for the mealy branched fungus.

I have not observed like in the Battle-club, that the root was able to penetrate the cuticle (ham); but it is by these insects of a finer dense tissue. I am not sure to have seen its seeds. I don’t think that the white dust, which surrounds it as a blanket or a screen, as seen by the woody club-fungus, and from which its nickname originates, is seeds. But whether the dust contains parts of the seeds, which have been shut out through the inner surface of the fungus, I don’t know. The appearance of the dust under a magnifier glass has previously been described.

Fig. VI
Five mealy branch-fungi on a pupa with some of its slough as they appear before they loose their mealy crust.

Excerpt kindly translated by Annette Bruun Jensen, 2002; Page by K.T. Hodge

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