Ben here with Friday's #BenInNature update!

Ben here with Friday's #BenInNature update!

Ben here with Friday's #BenInNature update! When I first began noticing this strange fungus on my property, I thought to myself, "I wonder what that fungus is that looks like a coral." As it turns out, it's a coral fungus!

Coral fungi, also called clavarioid fungi, are generally studied as an informal group. It was originally believed that they all belonged to the same genus (Clavaria), but it turns out that even though many of them look quite similar, they aren't closely related. As I've mentioned before, I don't post a lot of fungi for the same reason I don't eat wild fungi: they can be really difficult to identify!

What coral fungi do have in common is that they produce simple or branching fruiting bodies and their spores are released from the sides of the fruiting bodies. When we see a mushroom, we usually think of the mushroom as being the entire organism; in fact, for most of the life cycle of a fungus, you won't even see it unless you go digging in the ground or leaf litter to find the mycelium (the roots, basically). When a fungus produces a fruiting body above the soil, its sole purpose is to spread spores to make new fungi.

Most coral fungi are saprotrophic, meaning they digest decaying organic material, while a few are ectomycorrhizal, meaning that they form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of living trees!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.

You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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