Geastrum triplex Jungh.   
Collared Earthstar

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Order: Phallales

British distribution: Locally frequent in southern England, becoming much rarer northwards.
World distribution: Temperate and subtropical regions, widespread.

Geastrum triplex
Geastrum triplex, Scotland, 1980, in Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) woodland behind dunes. (Regrettably, there is a reason not to name the site.)

One of the more common earthstars in Britain. As can be seen in the right of the photograph, when immature it looks remarkably like a tulip bulb, until the outer layer splits and opens in the characteristic star-like shape. In this species, the splitting of the outer layer also forms a conspicuous collar. The puffball-like centre is then exposed, and as with the puffballs themselves, heavy rain or water dripping off overhead branches puffs out the spores through the apical opening.

A saprotroph amongst leaf litter in well drained open woodland, in hedgebanks, etc., usually on lime-rich soils.

A review of British earthstars is given in:
•   Pegler, D.N., Læssøe, T., & Spooner, B.M, (1988). British puffballs, earthstars and stinkhorns, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

© A.J. Silverside
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