|Mississippi Delta cotton field at sunset by artist Jerrie Glasper. Image @ WikiCommons.|
Ultimately, I came across the above painting by Mississippi artist Jerrie Glasper contributed/uploaded to the Commons'Mississippi main folder by the artist himself -- a very kindly gesture. I chose it, not because the painting looked like "Mississippi" (whatever that is, because I still don't really know), but because it calms me & the cotton blooms reminded me of the fungi du jour. Of course, like everything else in Mississippi, I had a very difficult time getting any complete information about Mr. Glasper because the website hosting his bio would not load. Only just moments ago, as I made a last ditch effort to add his link, did it finally load... ah, but what connections, what simpatico! Just look at this:
"He has, lately, focused on painting Mississippi delta "blues artists" and the music culture that is rich with characters who are both whimsicial as well as philosophical in their approach to coping with the trials of life. "I love capturing the expressions of love, joy, and pain in the faces of blues singers," says Glasper. I also try to convey the power of faith and hope for a better tomorrow, which is a cornerstone of blues music." -- from bio.You know, it's amazing. Somehow, without fail, every single time I do this, the pieces all fit together...
... a "better tomorrow," I like that. Let's go there.
Since Mississippi wasn't particularly communicative about its native fungi, I decided to search for evidence of a specific fungi with which I had been itching to work. It's a jazzy little ditty named Sphaerobolus stellatus (commonly known as cannonball fungus, shpere thrower, or artillery fungus) that really packs a punch. These little, star-shaped, impish fungus-bombs are sassy & irreverent, wreaking havoc on homes, automobiles, boats... Yet they are so diminutive they remain nearly invisible to the naked eye. Sneaky, cheeky, pesky & just wait, they are brilliant too -- I'll prove it.
(Just in case you want to check my homework: Yes, they most decidedly haunt the Mississippi landscape. See The Shotgun Fungus in Home Landscapes, courtesy the Mississippi State University Extension Service.)
So, what makes them special? Sphaerobolus once belonged to a group of fungi (Nidulariales) which produce fruiting bodies that contain what can be described as "spore balls," or spore mass "eggs" (the technical term of which is peridioles). These "eggs" are housed in a cup-like or nest-like peridium. Most of the fungi in this egg-making category are the lovely little bird's nest fungi, whose peridioles are dispersed by rain water, animals & other environmental factors. Despite reclassification into their own order, the Sphaerobolus bear many similarities to the Nidulariales. BUT. They take spore dispersal to an entirely different level.
|Sphaerobolus stellatus: Stages in the liberation of the peridiolum. TY Wiki.|
If that isn't astonishing enough, the fruiting bodies ("nests") of this fungus are phototrophic, so the spore "eggs" will be aimed at the nearest or most predominant source of direct or indirect light. How cool is that? I have never been witness to a spore discharge, but the experts say they make an audible popping noise upon ejection. Madness. Sheer madness.
Perhaps you feel I must be weaving up a mycological fairy tale. Perhaps you are having difficulty imagining this feat of fungal glory. Perhaps you need to see this in action...
Of course none of these wondrous features are what put them in the forefront of most human minds. No, no, it is because the spore masses of Sphaerobolus stellatus are dark & sticky -- very, very sticky.
|Eris. Could she be inside a Sphaerobolus?|
Onward with some invocation in the name of a "better tomorrow": May the rascals in Mamma Nature's nest make mayhem of those energies that would impose their order on our freedom!
"Bullshit makes the flowers
grow & that's beautiful."
-- from "Greyface," Principia Discordia
Ich sage euch:
man muß noch Chaos in sich haben,
um einen tanzenden Stern gebären zu können.
I tell you:
one must still have chaos within oneself,
to give birth to a dancing star. --Nietzsche