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Native plants of Texas
Earthstar - astraeus hygrometricus
Astraeus hygrometricus is an ectomycorrhizal fungus.
It grows in association with different trees:
In North America, often with oak and pine.
This star is confined to the Earth - caliche, sandy dry areas. There is a relationship with the roots of trees.
Small earthstars are usually about 2 inches (5 cm) across, including the rays. Some call it the "barometer earthstar," because it reacts to the humidity in the air. The pointed rays open when it's wet, closed when it's dry. It only takes a few minutes to open.
The plan behind the opening is that raindrops fall on the puffball in the middle and Earthstar spores are puffed out. To better the spread of the spores, the rays curl and extend far enough to slightly raise the star into the air, to increase the chances that the spores will be blown away further.
The latin name was taken from Greek mythology, where Astraeus - the starry one - was one of the Titans, responsible for the stars and the ancient arts of astronomy and astrology.
Photo taken on
the 'Great View Nature trail' at Bear Springs Blossom Nature Preserve
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