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Devil's Cigar (Chorioactis geaster)

Devil's Cigar
Devil's Cigar

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This Devil's Cigar is a star shaped opened fruiting body of a fungus appearing along a trail to the river through the upland rim rock Live Oak-Ashe Juniper-Cedar Elm woods in a nature preserve/wildlife management area above the Blanco River near Fischer Store Road, Hays County, Texas. Found and photographed January 3, 2005.

Forrest Mims III reported on this organism at http://www.sas.org/E-Bulletin/2004-01-16/mimsci/body.html. Here is an excerpt:

"This strange fungus, known to botanists as Chorioactis geaster, resembles a dark brown cigar emerging from the ground. At the appropriate time, the ugly cylinder splits open to form a striking tan star from which the spores are released. The devil's cigar was first reported in Austin in 1893. It was later discovered in Kyushu, Japan, but 38 years passed before it was again seen there. In Texas, the fungus has been found only in Travis, Dallas, Denton, Tarrant and Hunt Counties. Now its range can be extended south to Guadalupe County, for over the past decade my family has seen clusters of them under the cedar elms on our land along Geronimo Creek."

And now we can extend the range of the Devil's Cigar to western Hays County!

Texas State Fungus?

Forrest Mims III and others are pursuing legislation to have the Texas legislature recognize the Devil's Cigar Fungus as the Official State Fungus of Texas. This proposed legislation was introduced in 1997.

          By Harris                                       S.C.R. No. 27
          75R4157 WMS-D

                                 CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

  1-1           WHEREAS, The State of Texas has traditionally recognized a
  1-2     variety of terrestrial symbols as tangible representations of the
  1-3     proud spirit and heritage of our state; and
  1-4           WHEREAS, The bluebonnet, the pecan tree, the armadillo, and
  1-5     the lightning whelk are examples of some natural specimens that
  1-6     serve to symbolize the great diversity of the Texas landscape, a
  1-7     landscape that is unparalleled in both its scope and its rugged
  1-8     beauty; and
  1-9           WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of the
1-10     Devil's Cigar Fungus as the Official State Fungus of Texas would
1-11     provide suitable recognition for this rare mycological inhabitant
1-12     of the Lone Star State; and
1-13           WHEREAS, The Devil's Cigar Fungus, known to scientists as
1-14     Chorioactis geaster, features a long, tapering, dark-brown
1-15     apothecium, which sometimes reaches a height of up to four inches;
1-16     and
1-17           WHEREAS, This distinctive fungus releases its spores in a
1-18     singularly dramatic fashion that earned the plant its common name;
1-19     when ready, the Devil's Cigar Fungus splits open with an audible
1-20     hiss, filling the air with a cloud of spores that waft away to help
1-21     ensure a future generation of life for the species; and
1-22           WHEREAS, An exceedingly unusual specimen, the Devil's Cigar
1-23     Fungus makes its home on decaying hardwood stumps and exposed roots
1-24     and grows domestically only in Central and North Texas, including
  2-1     Travis, Tarrant, and Dallas counties; outside of Texas, it has been
  2-2     found only in Japan; and
  2-3           WHEREAS, The Devil's Cigar Fungus is as uncommon and striking
  2-4     as the state that serves as its home, and its unique attachment to
  2-5     Texas makes it a fitting symbol of the Lone Star State; now,
  2-6     therefore, be it
  2-7           RESOLVED, That the 75th Legislature of the State of Texas
  2-8     hereby designate the Devil's Cigar Fungus as the Official State
  2-9     Fungus of Texas.

            http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlo/75R/billtext/SC00027I.HTM



Copyright © 2003-2009 by Tim Jones
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Leopard frog in rock crevice