Creating a Scene
This week I have been thinking about fungi, and how they might be used to create a scene.
Crafting an environment is an acquired skill like any other. A creature crafted from imagination needs a home in which to dwell. Forests are lush places full of life even in the darkest, dampest, corners. Here thrive the things that crawl and the things that survive on the decay of other living things.
Fungi are nature’s natural composters, and as such they are associated with rot and all things dead. Given the environments where fungi tends to thrive, it is small wonder that mushrooms are lumped in with witches and frightening bogs.
Over the past couple of days I have been staring long and hard at interesting plants that would give a environment personality. Of course, it helps to know a little bit of information on your chosen subject matter. I have decided to gather some interesting facts about the species I have illustrated here. All of my sources are listed at the bottom of this post for those of you who want to continue their fungi journey.
Let us Begin..
Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric)
If we look to the bottom right of the illustration above you will see a familiar species. The Fly Agaric is probably the most iconic of all the fungi species. This species was made famous by popular media such as Smurfs and Super Mario Bros, and is the type of mushroom most commonly depicted in children’s books.
Fly Agaric got its name from its use an a natural insecticide. The mushroom was crushed up and added to milk, which would attract flies and subsequently poison them. Fly Agaric is also mildly toxic to humans. Ingesting this mushroom can cause sweating, mild hallucinations, and (in very rare cases) death.
Fly Agaric is a common, wide spread, fungi. It thrives in north-temperate regions of most major continents. This species grows closely around trees and forms a relationship with the roots. It’s preferred species of tree are birch and pine.
Hydnellum Peckii (Bleeding Tooth Fungus)
Bottom left. Also known as Strawberries and Cream, Bleeding Hydnellum, Red-Juice Tooth or Devil’s Tooth. This species is found mainly in North America and Europe. This mushroom producing fungi forms a mutually beneficial relationship with coniferous trees.
The cap of the mushroom contains fruit bodies which ooze a bright red liquid when young. This give’s the distinct look of a bleeding mushroom. I’m uncertain whether or not this looks incredibly pretty, or like something out of a horror film…
Armillaria (Honey Fungus)
This species is depicted by the illustration on the top right, and the top left. Honey Fungus is actually a name given to a family of fungus Armillaria, which share common traits, which is why this variety is depicted in two separate illustrations.
These are common mushroom and fungus that are considered pests. They feed mainly on woody perennials such as trees and shrubs. Infected plants will begin to wilt and fail to flower, and the mushroom caps most commonly appear in autumn. There are no fungicides available to honey fungus. The only treatment is to remove infected plants, dig up surrounding area, and take steps to prevent the spread.
Clathrus Ruber (Red Cage Fungus)
Red cage fungus got its name from the distinct lattice-like structure of the fungi fruit body. This species starts out its life cycle as a round white egg looking structure. It gradually breaks out and expands upwards into this distinct shape as it matures. This species can grow up to about 20 cm tall.
The lattice structure of Rage Cage ranges from light pink to dark orange-red in colour. The larger spongy structure surrounds the cluster of spores on the inside which are dark green in colour.
Red Cage fungi are also known by another name, Stinkhorn. This is due to the fact that the spores of this fungi release an odor similar to that of rotting meat in order to attract flies. The odor combined with the bright colour of the lattice structure is enough to deter most animals that might eat this fungi.
Red cage thrives in decaying woody plant material. It can be found growing in North Africa, Asia, Australia and South America.
Clathrus Archeri (Devil’s Finger)
Last but not least, we have Devil’s Finger Fungus. This particular species is making a big splash on the internet due to its striking resemblance to xenomorph eggs (Alien 1979).
Devil’s finger starts out its life cycle resembling a semi-translucent glutenous egg structure. As it matures four to eight long tentacle-like structures push out through the membrane. If you have the stomach for it, I highly suggest looking up pictures of growing Devil’s Finger. It is truly the stuff of nightmares.
Devil’s FInger is actually related to the Red Cage (or Stinkhorn) fungus. The tentacle-like structures are made of a similar spongy material which releases a strong odor which attracts flies in order to spread its spores. It also grows in similar habitats of wood chips and decaying woody plants. They often grow together in clusters. Freaky!
While Devil’s finger is quite an usual, and even a little frightening, it is actually quite harmless. Its spores are even served as a delicacy in some parts of the world.
Coming Up Next…
Next time in Twisted Tales Studio, we are going to take an up close and personal look at a particularly freaky fungi, which can technically be classified as a parasite. This fungus’s life cycle is so unusually frightening that a well-known video game actually used it as a basis for their big bad monsters. After all, the scariest monsters have their roots in reality.
Can anyone guess which game I am talking about??
Once again, all of my information above can be found in the links listed below! I am by no means an expert on species of fungi, so please check out these sites for more information.
Sources: Fly Agaric - Link Bleeding Tooth Fungus - Link Honey Fungus - Link Red Cage Fungus - Link Devil's Finger Fungus - Link