T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Geastrum velutinum (Velvet Earthstar)

Kingdom: Fungi
Subkingdom: Dikarya
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Subphylum: Agaricomycotina
Class: Agaricomycetes
Subclass: Phallomycetidae
Order: Geastrales
Family: Geastraceae
Genus: Geastrum
Species: Geastrum velutinum
Common name: Velvet Earth star

Geastrum velutinum starts as a developing looking like a puffball. At maturity, the outer layer of the fruiting body splits into broad rays which turn outward creating a star-like pattern on the ground, (Width 50mm).
The spores are contained inside a thin-skinned fruit-body (inner peridium) that is exposed when the body segments fold back. The spores are released through a small hole at the top when rain drops hit the fruit-body. The mouth is quite prominent, arising as a small cone at the apex of the inner peridium.
The dark-brown spores are released through this mouth.
Geastrum velutinum is found usually during autumn on forest litter. The specimen photographed below was growing on old pine bark.