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The Buzz

Halloween Special: Six Very Freaky Fungi

Halloween may be right around the corner, but if you're looking for some nature-inspired horror shows at different times of year, all you have to do is look down while walking the trails. With fungi commonly dotting the landscape, there's ample opportunity to see specimens that run the spectrum from incredibly beautiful to downright strange. 

In some cases, certain fungi can result in a real case of the heebie-jeebies.

Luckily — or unluckily, depending on how you look at it — we've been able to photograph a number of them. 

Here's a look at some of the best Halloween-themed fungi, ranked in order of creepiness.


No. 1: Bleeding Tooth Fungus

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

This one is the stuff nightmares are made of for anyone with trypophobia. Even if you don't have a fear of closely-packed holes, it still takes the top spot on the creepy meter.

In its prime, red fluid oozes out of its pores. It may look evil, but it isn't poisonous. 

Just don't get any ideas about trying to eat it, because it's extremely bitter.


2. Dead Man's Fingers

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

Sometimes you come up a finger short and the placement isn't 100 percent there to get the full effect to make the hair on your neck stand up.


3. Old Man of the Woods

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

There's no doubt about how this one got its name. It's commonly found in oak forests and usually looks like its better days are behind it.


4. Brown Witch's Butter

(Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock)

According to an Eastern European legend, this fungus would appear on the door of a home of a family targeted by a witch's spell. Now, you can find it from May through November, usually after a heavy rain.

Adding to the freak factor, it often resembles the surface of brain matter.


5. Jack O'Lanterns

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

On the surface, this one doesn't look so bad.

But at night, it shows off its bioluminescence when the gills glow a blue-green color.


6. Ghost Plant

(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

We're cheating a bit by including this one, and for good reason.

Also known as Indian Pipe, this plant is nearly as rare as an actual ghost sighting. It's often mistook for a fungus due to its lack of chlorophyll. Because of that, it gets its nutrients from fungus in the soil where it grows.


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