One day recently, I took a bonsai off the shelf that was in desperate need of weeding, like the rest of the pots on that shelf. As I was engrossed in the task, I noticed something that was really strange. They were cone shaped and some of them had opened to reveal a whole lot of little black seeds that fell out of the cone, if not removed carefully. It was only after a lot of detective work we identified it as the Grey-egg Bird’s Nest Fungus found in my bonsai.
What was even stranger to me, was that no other pots in the entire nursery had these little “weeds”. So, out came the camera, and a whole lot of photographs were taken for the record, (look carefully around the base of the tree and in between the roots)
After showing these little “weeds” to everyone who visited the nursery, hoping that someone knew what they might be, no one had seen anything like it.
I then decided to send the pictures off to our indigenous fundi here in Natal – Geoff Nichols, who had also not seen anything like it, and after quite a bit of research no headway had been made, so the pictures were then sent off to an expert on fungi for identification as it was a guess that they might be a type of Fungi.
While waiting for a reply, I kept removing these “weeds” as and when they came up, just in case I had some strange infestation starting in my nursery.
Grey-egg Bird’s Nest Fungus
Eventually, Geoff said he needed a bigger picture, which was duly sent off to him. Finally, I received a reply, and was told that the strange ´weed´ was possibly the “Grey-egg Birds Nest” fungus!!! I was also informed that they are harmless, and feed on decaying plant material.
Investigating further, I found some more information on WhatSpecies.com a collaborative site that records the rich species biodiversity on our planet. In a post by Liz Popich she records the following observation:
Small, Cup-like shape with grey-brown or silvery-brown “eggs” inside, eggs bounce out of cup by falling raindrops.
The scientific name of the Grey-egg Bird’s Nest Fungus is Cyathus olla. Another common name is the Gladde Voëlnesswam, and is classified in the category of Fungi & Lichens.
In her posting, Liz Popich noted her observation occurred on March 2014 in Pretoria, confirming its occurrence beyond Kwa-Zulu Natal.
The Grey-egg Bird’s Nest Fungus found in my bonsai were really quite quaint, and am now quite sorry I got rid of every one!