Mysteries in the Malaysian Forest: A Tour of Odd Mushrooms - Part I
I've delved deep into the mysterious world of Malaysian mycology to bring you a selection of some of the most peculiar and fascinating mushrooms that you may have never seen or heard of before.
Fungi come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and Malaysia is a particularly rich country in terms of fungal diversity. From the small and minuscule to the large and bizarre, the country is home to a wide range of fascinating fungi that can be found in its forests and jungles.
1. Durianella echinulata
The fungus was originally collected in a jungle in Kemaman, Terengganu (Malaysia), on 24 June 1932, where it grew on soil buried in leaves at a river's edge.
Durianella echinulata is found under trees of the Genus Shorea in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo.
It fruits on the ground singly, scattered, or in small clusters.
The Genus contains the single species Durianella echinulata, described in 2008.
2. Chlorogaster dipterocarpi
Back in '99, some researchers (Thomas Læssøe and Leo Jalink) found an epic new puffball species in the Sabah forest in Malaysia. They tried reaching out to a bunch of fungal experts, but no one could help them identify it.
That's when they realized they had discovered a totally new type of fungus! By examining its physical features, they discovered that this funky fungi - Chlorogaster dipterocarpi - belongs to the same family as other hard-skinned puffballs like Scleroderma and Pisolithus.
Apparently, all of these guys are related to bolete-like mushrooms from way back in the day. But once Chlorogaster dipterocarpi's ancestors went down the puffball path, they couldn't turn back to their mushroom roots.
3. Barbie Bracket
My friend Jerry made this post on the local FB Bukit Kiara group, and I'd never seen anything like it. It's been dubbed the 'Barbie Bracket' for now.
4. Spongiforma squarepantsii
The name of the fungus is derived from the Nickelodeon cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants from the show of the same name.
S. squarepantsii is one of two species in Spongiforma; it differs from S. thailandica in its color, odor, and spore structure.
“It’s just like a sponge with these big hollow holes. When it’s wet and moist and fresh, you can wring water out of it and it will spring back to its original size. Most mushrooms don’t do that.” - Dennis Desjardin
This species is only confirmed to be found in the dipterocarp-dominated forest of the Lambir Hills in Sarawak, Malaysia. There is an unpublished and unconfirmed record from Peninsular Malaysia by Su-See Lee.
5. Entoloma caespitosum group
Similar looking to the pink Entoloma mastoideum, these purple-capped mushrooms are reported to be some of the most toxic of the Genus (which has a global record of over 1,000 species).
6. Wrinkled-Conical Bolete
7. Pointy Pink Bolete
The texture appears velvety, and the conical caps remind me of Entoloma. These tall ones are reportedly porous underneath.
8. Clathrus delicatus
I am used to seeing Ileodictyon cibarium, aka White Basket Fungus or tutae kehua, or "ghost droppings," by Maori, in New Zealand. The egg and cage-like morphology reminds me of stinkcages.
Clathrus delicatus is a species of fungus in the stinkhorn family known mainly from Sri Lanka and India.
9. Bioluminescent Mycena sp.
Malaysia has the most recorded species of bioluminescent mushrooms in the world (+25 out of ~112). Many new unnamed species are being discovered here, such as this Mycena:
Three Petals Biotechnology is even cultivating bioluminescent species.
10. Xylaria schweinitzii
This specie was only recorded once in Malaysia on iNaturalist about 9 years ago. I found these growing under a wooden support beam used on a trail at Taman Tugu. They appeared like berries (dark blueberry color).
I left this guy in a small container for a while, and when I checked again, the bottom was filled with ink. After a couple of days, it completely liquified and produced enough ink to probably write all this by hand.
A closer look at the surface shows accumulations of conidia from the asexual state.
11. Mutinus borneensis
Collected in Borneo (hence the epithet ‘borneensis’) this “dog stinkhorn” is one of a few species of Mutinus recorded in Malaysia.
The eggs are deemed edible at an early stage. I have yet to try.
12. Hydnum / Hedgehog Mushroom
My friend Siew showed me some of her mushroom photos from Wawasan in the past. Toothed fungi are interesting, and this one especially! I've never seen a multi-stiped / headed Medusa-like hedgehog morphology before.
Considered a choice edible mushroom. The hedgehog has a sweet, nutty flavor and a nice, chewy texture. Another name for the hedgehog mushroom is "sweet tooth."
13. Pseudoclathrus cylindrosporus
A Cage Fungus (Pseudoclathrus cylindrosporus) grows in the rich decaying humus of Mount Kinabalu's montane rainforest.
Flies, which are attracted to the strong putrid odor, disperse the spores, which are found in a brown slime secreted on the inner surface of the receptaculum.
Malaysia is home to a wide range of fascinating and unique fungi species that are still being discovered and studied by scientists and enthusiasts alike.
Every year, new and exciting fungal species like this are discovered, underscoring the vastness of our knowledge gap within this remarkable kingdom. The diversity of fungi in tropical rainforests has only been superficially explored, and this should be a thrilling prospect for those who study the forest floor, as countless species remain undiscovered.
Thanks for reading Myconeer! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.