Bet you can’t guess what this is.
Actually, if you happen to be a mycologist you’ll probably be jumping up and down in your seat right now, as this is an earthstar – aka Geastrum triplex (probably – there are lots of different types). It’s also really quite rare – particularly if it’s found in Surrey, as this one was, in the garden of one of my clients.
If you look at it from the top, you can see a little better why it got its name. This isn’t actually a very good specimen – you can see a better one here – but then this one has been dug up and passed around loads of different people before I got my hands on it, so it’s a little weary.
It’s actually the second earthstar I’ve seen in this garden: the first one, last year, was twice the size and caused all sorts of excitement as first of all, nobody knew what it was, and then someone asked a professor about it and he got very excited and took it to Kew. Turns out it’s the only known site for an earthstar in Surrey – and the first specimen is now at Kew’s fungal herbarium. Quite something – there was even a little article about it in a learned tome somewhere.
I just think it’s pretty. And not a little spooky.