The collared earthstar, Geastrum triplex Jung (formerly Geaster). These pictured specimens have the ‘collar’ typical of this species, which forms when the mesoperidium breaks apart during maturation of the fruit body. Despite what the common name might suggest, the presence of this character is not absolute, as humidity and temperature may inhibit collar development in some specimens.
Geastrum michelianum W.G. Sm. [as ‘Geaster‘], Gard. Chron.
London 18: 608 (1873)
Géastre à trois couches (French)
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Like all taxa of the family Geastraceae, Geastrum triplex is a puffball-like saprobic fungus with a peridium composed of several layers. The exoperidium splits stellately (into star-shaped rays) during growth to expose the gleba-containing endoperidium underneath, which, after maturing, will later rupture open a pore at the apex. Spores may then be dispersed by means of circular air currents resulting from air blowing over the opening, or by water falling into the pore opening to splash the spores.
Fruiting body: up to 5 cm in diameter at widest part when unopened, spreading to up to 12 cm across. When young the fruit body may be partially buried (epigeal), more or less spherical or onion-shaped, not stalked, brown or reddish brown, the outer coat splitting at the apex into 4-8 uniform segments or rays, spreading back to form a star shape and often splitting into two layers of which the inner remains resemble a cup around the spore case.
Spore case: sessile, thin and papery, opening by a apical pore (ostiole) different in texture (fimbriate) from the rest of the smooth spore case (the peristome), smooth but somewhat fringed, typically seated in a slight depression.
Spores: brown, globose, ornamented, 3.5-5.5 μm.
Habitat: grows singly or gregarious on the ground in open coniferous and deciduous woods among leaf litter; fruting in summer-autumn, although persistent fruit bodies may be found year-round.
Distribution: the species has a widespead distribution, especially in temperate and subtropical regions. It has been reported in Brazil (Baseia et al., 2003), the Canary Islands, Spain (Eckblad, 1975), Chile (Viviana and Francisco, 1998), Congo (Dissing and Lange, 1962), Czechoslovakia (Kubat, 1972), Finland (Haeggstrom and Carlsson, 1999), the Galapagos Islands (Reid et al., 1980), Germany (Gerhardt, 1990), India (Nair and Patil, 1979), Iran (Saber, 1989), Mexico (Esqueda et al., 2003), Netherlands (Bollen, 2002), Panamá (Garner, 1956), Poland (Wojewoda, 2000), Sweden (Sunhede, 1977), Trinidad and Tobago (Reid, 1977), Ullung Island, South Korea (Jung, 1995), Venezuela (Dennis, 1960), and Zaire (Demoulin and Dring, 1975). In some of these locales it is considered a threatened species or species of conservation concern.
The fruit bodies of Geastrum triplex Jungh contain the sterols ergosta-4,6,8,(14),22-tetraen-3-one,5,6-dihydroergosterol, ergosterol, peroxyergosterol, as well as myristic, palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids (Torpoco and Garbarino, 1998).
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