Golden spindles (Clavulinopsis fusiformis) is a beautiful representation of the clavarioid fungi. The clavarioid fungi consist of the club and coral shaped fungi. This simple upright morphology has evolved several times, so the word clavarioid describes fungal shape rather than phylogeny. This species is always a special find to me, because it seems like it’s out of place.
This bright yellow species deeply contrasts the forest floor and grassland habitats where it is located. Found throughout North America, Europe and Asia, widely dispersed C. fusiformis chemically breaks down dead organic matter that would otherwise continue to build up. We owe recognition to species like these that can metabolize large complex molecules that make up leaf litter and other tough plant fibers. Without a wide array of decomposers that specialize in breaking down certain recalcitrant material, the forest floor would be a depressing, depauperate place. I encourage everyone to observe the forest floor more carefully. Small, non-discrete wonders of nature are to be appreciated! Happy Fungi Friday everybody!