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A tropical nightcap

January 16, 2012

The night between the 15th and 16th of January 2012 was the coolest we have ever measured at Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand: 11.5°C. It gets light at 06.30 but by 07.27 it was still 11.6 °C. Half an hour later the temperature had already climbed to 12.4°C – the mornings heat up quickly in the tropics.

An interesting phenomenon is that some mushrooms are nocturnal. They seem too brittle to stand the daylight sun, and so they expand their primordia and shed their spores within a few dark hours, and disappear in the late morning. I have seen Psathyrella and inky caps (Coprinus s. lat.) do that. The vegetative mycelia of these mushrooms seem to thrive on grass cuttings and so many early mornings the lawn is sprinkled with little mushroom parachutes – very cute! An exact ID of this mushroom species demands a specialist on tropical Coprinus, so I simply call them nightcaps.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2012 6:41 PM

    Beautiful and interesting!

  2. January 16, 2012 9:20 PM

    I wonder which animals eat these pretty little things?

    • January 17, 2012 7:14 AM

      These mushrooms are autolytic, i.e. using enzymes they dissolve their own fruitbodies so that they can recycle the nutrients and make new fruitbodies. Since they are fragile and lack pigments they seem adapted to nocturnal activities only. Very advanced organisms!

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