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The Wrinkled Peach Mushroom (Rhodotus palmatus)

This mushroom is definitely a sight to behold. Its bubblegum-like coloration makes it stand out and it oozes a reddish liquid. They also grow differently as a result of different colors of light. Let's discover more about this fascinating species.

Physical Description and Behavior

This strikingly pink mushroom is about is 1.5–3.0 cm (0.6–1.2 in) tall with a stem that is about 0.4–0.6 cm (0.16–0.24 in) thick. This stem does not have a ring or a volva like many other mushroom species. It has a cap that is about 2–6 centimeters (0.8–2.4 in) wide, and is convex but flattens over time.

While they are normally pink, variations in the type of light received can alter their size, shape, and even cap color. This can make them look more beige or orange in color instead. While most mushrooms thrive under blue light, this species, in particular, thrives under red light. The reason for this change seems to have to do with calcium. Red light appears to stimulate the growth of fruiting bodies while blue light inhibits them, but only when there is high and low calcium respectively.

This may seem odd, however, as mushrooms are not known to photosynthesize. However, mushrooms do need a small amount of light in order to form fruiting bodies. This is because fungi can have up to 11 photoreceptors that can sense different wavelengths and affect their genome accordingly. Because of this, mushrooms have different shapes or colors in relation to the light they have received.

As for the wavelength of light, that is due to the mushrooms growing on the forest floor. The larger trees overhead block out most of the wavelength, allowing mostly blue and green light to seep through. However, in the fall months, the leaves fall off the tree, exposing the mushrooms to far more wavelengths of light allowing the growth of fruiting bodies.

Fun fact: The top of the mushroom is slimy and looks similar to that of flesh, but the inner parts are far more solid and even rubbery. That said, it is known to excrete an orange or deep red liquid, which can make it look as if it is bleeding.

While most people say it has no scent, it is believed that 5% of people claim it has a "pungent, minty, chemically smell, reminiscent of camphor." It is generally considered to be inedible, often with a bitter taste.

Habitat and Location

This fungus has a circumboreal distribution, being found in northeastern United States, Japan, and much of Europe. This fractured distribution is highly unusual for a single species unless it is being cultivated. It might have arrived in these new areas due to trade ships selling hardwood, which this species uses as a host.

It is considered to be Near Threatened according to the IUCN Red List due to the loss of elm and ash trees, which they use as hosts. This loss of up to 40% is mainly seen in Europe. Populations seem to have a resurgence in the United States, mainly in Indiana and Illinois, due to the death of elms due to Dutch Elms Disease. This may have provided plenty of food for this mushroom to sprout.

If you want to learn a little bit more about this mushroom, check out the video below!

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