Greg Abbott

Texas Legislature Designates Official State Mushroom

It's likely only a few hundred people have seen the state's rare state mushroom, scientist says

Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Texas has become the third state to designate an official mushroom after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a resolution on Friday.

Only two other states, Minnesota and Oregon, have officially declared a state mushroom.  

The star-shaped fungus, known by the Latin name Chorioactis geaster, only grows in 16 counties across Central and Northern Texas as well as parts of Oklahoma.

Japan is the only other country where it has been seen.

The mushroom appears in late fall and it emerges as a dark brown, fuzzy capsule that is three to four inches in length inspiring another of its nicknames, the "Devil's Cigar."

"As this fungus matures, it splits open from its apex and forms a good-sized, brightly colored star and naturally, we have always thought it made sense for it to become the state fungus of the Lone Star State," Harold Keller, Ph.D., BRIT resident researcher, said.

Keller and a fellow biologist K.C. Rudy found the mushroom growing in the early 1990s along the Trinity River at River Legacy Park in Arlington. Since then, Keller and others have spotted the fungus throughout North Texas. 

BRIT Research Scientist Bob O'Kennon began seeing the Texas Star mushroom years ago and documented its presence at more than 60 different sites.

"I first spotted it at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, then started looking for it around decaying cedar elms and saw it at a few other places," O'Kennon said. "What's really interesting about this species is not only the cigar-like shape, but when it opens up, there is an audible hissing sound when it forcibly releases its spores."

According to O'Kennon, it's likely only a few hundred people have seen the rare mushroom.   

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