The intriguing Bird’s Nest Fungi (Nidulariaceae) of forest, meadow, and garden have been familiar to botanists since 1601, but only relatively recently has the significance of their peculiar form been realized. Dr Brodie traces the long controversy that arose when Bird’s Nest Fungi were first classified as seed plants because of the numerous seed-like bodies contained in their small cup-shaped fruit bodies. The ‘seeds’ are now known to contain spores like those of other fungi such as puffballs, to which the Nidulariaceae are related. Present-day research has shown that certain Bird’s Nest Fungi produce chemicals having previously unrecognized molecular structure. Between these milestones Dr Brodie reveals the solution to the mystery of the dispersal of the ‘eggs’ from the ‘bird’s nest’: the fruit bodies are splash guns from which the reproductive spores are ejected by the force of falling raindrops. This explanation of the phenomenon is supported by copious observations and hitherto unpublished experiments.
All known species of Nidulariaceae, including many only recently recognized, are described in this volume. All aspects of growth, structure, development, and life-cycle of these fungi, both in nature and in laboratory culture, are reported in a modern, comprehensive treatment of a subject which is of interest not only to mycologists but to amateur naturalists as well.