Earth Star fungus, Astraeus on the beach
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Earth Star fungus, Astraeus on the beach in the Plantation area of Placencia

They are popping up all over the beach! (November 2017) They are harmless. Have seen them on Caye Caulker also.

Astraeus is a genus of fungi in the family Diplocystaceae. The genus, which has a cosmopolitan distribution, contains nine species of earthstar mushrooms. They are distinguished by the outer layer of flesh (exoperidium) that at maturity splits open in a star-shape manner to reveal a round spore sac. Additionally, they have a strongly hygroscopic character - the rays will open when moist, but when hot and dry will close to protect the spore sac.

They are lovely mushrooms, They are in the here in Hopkins. And it doesn't matter if you move them before they spore because their mycelium is underground. They are a sign of healthy soil. They open up prior to rains. Earth Stars are miniature weather stations. Quite common on northern Ambergris Caye.

Photographs by Gil Rotstein

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