Fairy Cup Mushrooms in the hillside of Landour, Mussoorie : Forestry for kids

After consecutive days of heavy rainfall, the bright sunny days in the hillside of Landour have finally arrived. This year extended rainy days were experienced otherwise October is usually the most adored months in the hillside.

© Sunny Day in the hillside of Landour Mussoorie

So, we decided to go for a brisk nature walk in the vicinity along with the children. Children were so engrossed with nature under warm sun. While some were busy exploring the monsoon blossoms, few were busy exploring insect hideouts and nests. It gives immense satisfaction to see little children exploring the nature with curiousity and eagerness.

©Wild Sage flowers
©Some insect nest in Oak branches

The nature never fails to surprise me and as always I was occupied in exploring the rich biodiversity. Somewhere, I feel children are naturally gifted with instincts and if properly guided they are better nature explorers than adults. I feel nature also selects only a few of us to decipher her secrets. It happened so, that one of the children was eager to show me one specimen which she identified as a mushroom. Initially, I was unsure and thought that they must be some decayed acorns lying on the forest floor. But she persisted to have a close look into them. She called her mushrooms as ‘Coconut mushrooms’ due to coconut like fibre shell of the mushroom.

©Brown haired Fairy Cup Mushrooms

Although I had severe backache, I somehow managed to get on the hill slopes where she found the mushrooms. It was lying beneath the Deodar tree among the roots. I was astonished to find Brown haired fairy Cup Mushrooms for the first time on the hillside of Landour, Mussoorie. Although the mushroom was previously reported in the 1950’s from Mussoorie, this was my first experience to see Fairy Cup Mushrooms in their natural habitat.

© Ectomycorrhizal Fairy Cup Mushrooms in the roots of Deodar Tree

Fairy Cup Mushrooms are ectomycorrhizal and are very important for the health and vigour of the trees. Ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) are symbionts with most temperate and boreal forest trees, providing their hosts with soil nutrients and water in exchange for plant carbon. This group of fungi is involved in woody plants’ survival and growth and helps plants tolerate harsh environmental conditions.

Humaria hemisphaerica
They are goblet shaped when young, and gradually become cup-shaped and reaching widths of 2-3 cm when mature, fairly smooth; under surface densely hairy with prominent hairs that extend above the margin of the cup, brown; odour none; flesh brownish or pale, brittle. This species typically does not have a stipe although there is small abrupt base sometimes. This mycorrhizal fungus is recognized by its white inner surface and hairy brown outer surface.
Ecology: Humaria hemisphaerica grows solitary, scattered, or in groups on the ground or sometimes on rotten wood in wooded areas. It was found growing in clusters in the rhizosphere of Deodar tree (Figure A).
Specimen examined – The sample was collected from Woodstock School, Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India, 27 September 2022, WS/HH 06
Microscopic features: Spores 20-24 x 10-12 µ; elliptical, often with somewhat flattened ends; Asci eight-spored (Kuo, 2012)
Discussion: It is commonly known as the hairy fairy cup (Arora, 1986) is a species of fungi in the family Pyronemataceae. This mycorrhizal fungus is recognized by its white inner surface and hairy brown outer surface. Previously it was reported by Thind and Sethi (1957) on dead twigs and soil under Cedrus forest in Mussoorie.
Edibility: Inedible

© Himalayan Daisies

Though a lot is known about how mushrooms can benefit humans, little attention is given to the importance of mushrooms to the forest. Although there are reports of various mushrooms from Mussoorie, meagre information is available on the diversity of mushrooms in the hillside of Landour, Mussoorie. Wild mushroom are involved in the formation of ectomycorrhizal associations with the rootlets of the trees, with both partners in the relationship helping each other in many different ways

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© 2022 chandrimadebi http://www.chandrimadebi.com

Published by Dr. Chandrima Debi

Hi, I am Chandrima Debi. I am a Doctorate in Forestry and an independent researcher. Ever since childhood, I experienced deep-rooted connection with nature, forest and wildlife. I have written various research articles, case studies based on geology, forests, medicinal plants, biodiversity and conservation. Through this blog I share my experiences with nature and forests around us and aid towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity, wildlife and the values associated.

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