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The Buzz

Freaky Fungus of the Week: Bleeding Tooth





(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

We apologize in advance to anyone with trypophobia (the fear of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps), but there is a species you may encounter on a trip to the preserves that is too good to keep under wraps.

Bleeding tooth fungus is equal parts amazing and disgusting.

This appropriately named gem can be found on the forest floor, and this fungus secrets a thick red fluid from its pores during its juicy, youthful prime.

Even though it may look downright evil, bleeding tooth fungus has a symbiotic relationship with its host. While it receives fixed carbon from the roots of its host, the fungus improves the host plant's mineral absorption. It's a win-win for both.

The appearance can vary quite a bit, and some veer less toward creepy and more toward a delicious pastry splashed with some strawberry jam. 

Regardless of how it looks, this is one fungi you don't want to eat.

While not poisonous, it has a "mild to disagreeable odor" and the taste has been described as that of a very bitter pepper.

 

As the bleeding tooth ages, the oozing stops and it begins to dry up. It will then begin to turn gray or brown.

One of the most interesting facts about this "blood" fungus is that it contains an anticoagulant named atromentim, which is similar to the popular anticoagulant heparin.

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