New Species to Colorado Discovered

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A puff ball species

Three new Colorado records of mushroom species were discovered among our collections of our Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi, thanks to a visit from Gasteromycete specialist, Dr. Scott Bates.  Dr. Bates identified a Tulostoma and a Geastrum (an earth star, pictured above) which have never been documented as occurring in the state before now.   The Geastrum has been collected three times throughout the last decade right here in the  Botanic Gardens, presumably brought in by landscaping projects and then the spores have migrated with the help of our gardeners. It has not been reported here in the wild but Scott Bates has recorded it from Arizona in natural habitats.

These are puffball-type mushrooms, fungi that form pretty, bulbous, white fruiting bodies;  what we know as mushrooms are the fruiting body or reproductive part of the fungi, which is mostly underground. The photo below shows Bob Brace, a former herbarium volunteer, holding a fine specimen.

A puffball species being held by Bob Brace, a former herbarium volunteer

Because identification of mushrooms is so difficult, it is believed that only a very small percentage of existing species are even known to science.  Hence, identification by visiting experts is critical for any herbarium to determine if previously collected specimens might have been misidentified, or to update names that have been changed.  Dr. Bates has extensively studied the Gastromycetes (puffballs and their allies) in desert areas of Arizona and has a great interest in our specimens that have been found in prairies and mesas of Colorado.

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At the Gardens

Comments

Ellen Hertzman
Is it harmful for species to hitchhike into other territories like this one did? That is, is there potenitial for invasiveness or harm to native species when we import things, either knowingly or accidentally?
Anna Sher
Excellent question, Ellen. We import things all the time; most of the species in the gardens are imports (just like animals in a zoo). A very tiny percentage of these plant and animal imports (estimated 0.1- 1.0%) ever become truly invasive (about 10% naturalize). To my knowledge, there have been few to no instances of invasive mushrooms of this type, although within Fungi more generally, molds and rusts have certainly caused their share of trouble. I hope that helps.
Gill Lynskey
I have just found this same mushroom in my garden! Are they dangerous to us or rabbits?
Dee Sutton
Found these in my garden today, probably came in with the bagged mulch I purchased from local garden/hardward store this past spring. Just wondering if they are harmful to my garden or to myself when I eat the fresh veggies from my garden. Live in Yolo County, California.

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