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The Kid Should See This

This is not a tiny bird’s nest. What is it?

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Look closely at damp logs and twigs out in nature, or maybe even in the wood chip mulch in your backyard, and you might spot a soil-enriching wonder: Bird’s nest fungi.

This tiny saprobic family of fungi may look like a cache of miniature bird’s nests, but each nest is a “splash cup,” and each “egg” in the nest is a spore sac called a peridiole. It contains millions of spores that are waiting to be free.

birds nest fungi
When a raindrop hits the cup-shaped nest, the egg-like peridiole is catapulted into the air and, with the help of a cord made of thousands of entwined threads called hyphae, it might snag a nearby twig, leaf, or blade of grass. Then it waits.

birds nest fungi
If the peridiole dries there, it will release its spores. But if it’s really lucky, a deer or another herbivore might eat it with the greenery, carrying it farther than it could have traveled on its own. And just like many forms of seed dispersal, when the animal poops, the peridiole is deposited in a new area where it might have a chance to thrive and spread.

KQED’s Deep Look shares the story of the bird’s nest fungi.

birds nest fungi
Find more Deep Look on YouTube, Instagram, and Patreon.

Watch these related fungi videos next:
β€’Β What is the fastest accelerator on the planet?
β€’ Spore Rain: A mushroom releases its spores on the breeze
β€’Β Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), a time-lapse of growth
β€’ Cage fungus fakes its death to trick flies

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