Exploding Fungi

Exploding Fungus. No really, and I’m not talking about anything from the Wizarding World. 

Fungi come in dizzying arrays of brightly colored mushrooms, massive networks of tiny underground threads, and that fuzzy stuff that grows in your refrigerator. Some of my favorite varieties, however, are the ones that explode.



Pilobolus is a fungus that grows on grass where it is eaten by herbivores. The fungus then travels through the animal’s digestive track and is eventually deposited in a pile of stinky nutrients commonly known as poo. Out of the cow pie or horse turd grows the stalk of the fungus with its dark sporangium sitting atop a bulge called the vesicle. Pressure in the vesicle builds, and builds … and builds … until POP! and the sporangium goes flying! The packet of spores and nutrients moves so fast that it is actually one of the fastest moving living things on the planet. After landing on a fresh, less poo-covered patch of grass, the spores will hopefully be eaten by another large herbivore, and the life-cycle begins again.

You can watch them in exceptionally slow motion, exceptionally poor video quality, and exceptionally tasteful music here. Or, for a different (more quiet and better quality video) view, here.


If you want to learn more about the incredible diversity of fungi, feel free to give my favorite fungi hunter a follow on Instagram or Facebook @thefriendlyfungus


Other posts about Pilobolus:

Rockets in Horse Poop

BBC Earth Unplugged


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