2NidulariaceaeThe Nidulariaceae are a family of fungi. Commonly known as the bird's nest fungi, their fruiting bodies resemble tiny egg-filled birds' nests. As they are saprobic, feeding on decomposing organic matter, they are often seen growing on decaying wood and in soils enriched with wood chips or bark mulch; they have a widespread distribution in most ecological regions.
3Bird's nest fungi were first mentioned by Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius in Rariorum plantarum historia (1601). Over the next couple of centuries, these fungi were the subject of some controversy regarding whether the peridioles were seeds, and the mechanism by which they were dispersed in nature. For example, the French botanist Jean-Jacques Paulet, in his work Traité des champignons (1790–3), proposed the erroneous notion that peridioles were ejected from the fruiting bodies by some sort of spring mechanism
4The Nidulariaceae has a gasteroid fruiting body, meaning that the spores develop internally, in an angiocarp. Fruiting bodies are typically gregarious. Young fruiting bodies are initially covered by a thin membrane that dehisces irregularly or by a circumscissile split, in a circular line around the circumference of the cup opening. Fruiting bodies (also called peridia) are small, generally between 5–15 mm wide and 4–8 mm high, urn- or vase-shaped, and contain one to several disc-shaped peridioles that resemble tiny eggs
5Peridiole structurePeridioles contain glebal tissue, basidia, and basidiospores, surrounded by a hardened wall. They are commonly lenticular in shape, measuring 1–3 mm in diameter.The color of the peridioles is characteristic of the genera: Cyathus has black peridioles, Nidularia and Nidula have brown peridioles, Mycocalia has yellow- to red-brown peridioles, and Crucibulum has black peridioles that are surrounded by a whitish membrame called the tunica, which makes them appear white. In most species, the peridioles are dispersed by rain.
9GeneraThere are five genera in the Nidulariaceae:CrucibulumFruiting bodies light tan to cinnamon-colored, cup- or crucible-shaped, and typically 1.5–10 mm wide by 5–12 mm tall.CyathusFruiting bodies vase-, trumpet- or urn-shaped with dimensions of 4–8 mm wide by 7–18 mm tall. Fruiting bodies are brown to gray-brown in color, and covered with small hair-like structures on the outer surface. Complex funicular cord.MycocaliaSmall barrel- to lens-shaped fruiting bodies, usually 0.5–2 mm broad, that grow singly or in small groups.NidulaFruiting bodies between 3–8 mm in diameter, 5–15 mm tall, and cup- or urn-shaped—having almost vertical sides with the lip flared outwards; color ranging from white, grey, buff, or tawny.NidulariaTypically 0.5–6 mm in diameter x 0.5–3 mm tall. They may be somewhat irregular in shape, or have a well-formed cup that is thin and fragile. No funicular cord.
10Birds nest fungus typically grows in mulch. Non-poisonous.
11Observations of flora, fauna and landscape in central Victoria Natural NewsteadObservations of flora, fauna and landscape in central Victoria
12Crucibulum is a genus in the Nidulariaceae Crucibulum is a genus in the Nidulariaceae. Often called "splash cups", the fruiting bodies are adapted for spore dispersal by using the kinetic energy of falling drops of rain. The "eggs" inside the bird's nests are hard waxy shells containing spores, and tend to stick to whatever nearby herbage they land on, thus increasing the odds of being consumed and dispersed by herbivorous animals. The three known Crucibulum species (C. laeve, C. parvulum, and C. cyathiforme) are distinguished from other genera of the Nidulariaceae by their relatively simple funiculus – a cord of hyphae that connects the peridiole (the "eggs") to the exterior of the bird's nest.Close-up of the peridioles of Crucibulum laeve
13Crucibulum laeve -- White Bird's Nest Fungus in all stages of fruiting
17Cyathus is a genus of fungi in the Nidulariaceae, Generally considered inedible. They usually grow on decaying wood or woody debris, on cow and horse dung, or directly on humus-rich soil. The life cycle of this genus allows it to reproduce both sexually, with meiosis, and asexually via spores. Several Cyathus species produce bioactive compounds, some with medicinal properties, and several lignin-degrading enzymes from the genus may be useful in bioremediation and agriculture.Cyathus olla
19Bird's-nest fungus (Cyathus olla) Bird's-nest fungus (Cyathus olla). This specimen was growing in a flower pot with Brodiaea terrestris ssp kernensis collected from the Laguna Mountains of San Diego County.
20Although less than a centimeter in diameter, Cyathus striatus often grows in huge clusters, thus making them easily visible, even from some distance. They're cute little fungi, almost always found wherever there is wood, as long as you look hard enough. The common name "bird's nest fungus" should be obvious to anyone looking at the small mass of "eggs" within the small "nests" or cups of the fruiting bodies. The "eggs" in the nest contain the basidiospores within them.The image to the right shows these various parts of a cross section of a splash cup of Cyathus. A=peridioles (eggs), B=funiculus and hapteron (cord and anchor) C=glebal chamber lined with basidia D=epiphragm (covering of the young splash cup). This procedure sounds pretty complicated, but it must work pretty well, given the large masses of these fruiting bodies on wood everywhere.
21The bird's nest fungus Cyathus poppignii The bird's nest fungus Cyathus poppignii. Specimens found in Orlando, Florida, USA. Original photo was cropped to emphasize the periodioles.
33Mycocalia is a genus of fungi in the family Nidulariaceae Mycocalia is a genus of fungi in the family Nidulariaceae. Species in this genus have small barrel- to lens-shaped fruiting bodies, usually 0.5–2 mm broad, that grow by themselves in small groups. The peridium consists of loosely interwoven clamped hyphae. The , of which there may be one to several, are disc-shaped, yellow- to red-brown, and sit in a gelatinous matrix when young and fresh.Mycocalia duriaeana
36Nidula is a genus of fungi in the family Nidulariaceae Nidula is a genus of fungi in the family Nidulariaceae. Originally described in 1902, the genus differs from the related genera Cyathus and Crucibulum by the absence of a cord that attaches the eggs to the inside of the fruit body. The life cycle of this genus allows it to reproduce both sexually, with meiosis, and asexually via spores. Species in this genus produce a number of bioactive compounds, including 4-(p-hydroxyphenyl)-2-butanone, a major component of raspberry flavor and insect attractor used in pesticides.Nidula niveotomentosa
37Nidula niveotomentosa This attractive bird's nest fungus is recognized by the white, fuzzy collar and the tiny, dark brown eggs. It is common in the Pacific Northwest. In the rainforests of the Northwest of NA there is lots of water available and constant high humidity. There, you can find this fungus fruiting on branches still on the tree many feet off the ground.
40Nidularia is a genus of fungi in the family Agaricaceae Nidularia is a genus of fungi in the family Agaricaceae. Fruit bodies of species in this genus grow together in large groups, and have dimensions that are typically 0.5–6 mm in diameter x 0.5–3 mm tall. They may be somewhat irregular in shape, or have a well-formed cup that is thin and fragile. The peridium has a tomentose surface composed of irregular, spiny hyphae over a more compact wall that later breaks down to expose several brown peridioles within. Unlike other genera of the family Nidulariaceae, the peridioles of the Nidularia are not connected to the fruiting body by a funicular cord, but rather lay clumped together in a gelatinous matrix.Nidularia pulvinata