Texas has a new state mushroom, which has roots in DFW. (Courtesy BRIT) A star-shaped mushroom with North Texas roots is receiving the star treatment after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a resolution last week making it the state’s official fungus. Researchers first noticed what’s become known as the Texas […]
A star-shaped mushroom with North Texas roots is receiving the star treatment after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a resolution last week making it the state’s official fungus.
Researchers first noticed what’s become known as the Texas Star mushroom (Latin name: Chorioactis geaster), in the early 1990s.
Harold Keller, a resident researcher at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) in Fort Worth and a fellow biologist named K.C. Rudy found the mushroom growing abundantly in the early 1990s along the Trinity River at River Legacy Park in Arlington, according to a news release. Since then, Keller and others have spotted the fungus throughout North Texas.
The mushroom is so particular about where it grows that, outside of central and North Texas, Japan is the only other country where it has been found.
It grows by attaching to decaying cedar elm stumps in late fall, researchers said, emerging “as a dark brown, fuzzy capsule three to four inches in length.”
The mushroom has another nickname, too: “Devil’s Cigar.”
“I first spotted it at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, then started looking for it around decaying cedar elms and saw it at a few other places,” BRIT research scientist Bob O’Kennon said. “What’s really interesting about this species is not only the cigar-like shape, but when it opens up, there is an audible hissing sound when it forcibly releases its spores.”
According to O’Kennon, it’s likely only a few hundred people have ever seen the rare mushroom.
In HCR 61, state Rep. Ben Leman described the shape of Chorioactis geaster as “custom designed for the Lone Star landscape” and “a poignant reminder of the natural diversity that surrounds us, the Texas Star mushroom is as uncommon and striking as the state that serves as its home.”
Only two other states — Minnesota and Oregon — have state fungi.