Major Groups > Oddballs & Misfits > Camarops petersii


Camarops petersii

[ Ascomycota > Sordariomycetes > Boliniales > Camarops . . . ]

by Michael Kuo

Have you ever seen those ridiculous "faces" that people put on trees in their yards? This mushroom represents what would happen if the Addams Family got hold of the idea.

    It's creepy and its kooky,
    mysterious and spooky.
    It's altogether ooky . . .
    Camarops petersii.

For more of Uncle Fester's lawn decorations, see Pisolithus tinctorius and Scleroderma polyrhizum.

Camarops petersii looks like a bulging black eye, complete with a felty eyelid, stuck to the side of a dead log. The eyelid is a veil that protects the young mushroom but soon ruptures to expose the spore-producing surface. Look for Camarops petersii in the Midwest and the southern Appalachians, on deadwood in hardwood forests.

There are several species of Camarops that do not feature the feltlike veil but are otherwise fairly similar in macroscopic appearance, including Camarops polysperma, Camarops ohiensis, Camarops tubulina, and a putative species found on birch logs in the Appalachians (see Vasilyeva et al. 2007). Since the protologue for Camarops petersii makes no mention of the veil (a fact noted as early as Ellis & Everhart, 1892), one wonders whether serious taxonomic study of the genus in North America would shake things up a bit.

Thanks to Susan Kritzberg for documenting, collecting, and preserving Camarops petersii for study; her collection is deposited in The Herbarium of Michael Kuo.


Ecology: Saprobic on the decorticated deadwood of fallen hardwoods, including oaks and eastern cottonwood; growing alone or in small groups; late summer and fall; originally described from Alabama; distributed widely in the Midwestern United States and the southern Appalachian Mountains, but reported as far north as Rhode Island and Minnesota; also reported from the Caribbean, Central America, eastern Europe, and Japan. The illustrated and described collections are from Illinois and Kentucky.

Fruiting Body: 2–12 cm across; 1–2 cm high; subcircular, broadly elliptical, or irregular in outline; cushion-shaped, with a somewhat narrowed base; upper surface black and shiny, covered with pimple-like dots (and covered with black slime when the mushroom is producing spores); at first encased in a brownish, feltlike veil 1–2 mm thick that soon ruptures and becomes a sheath around the sides of the fruiting body, with a ragged upper edge; interior tough and brownish, filled with black channels and pockets (perithecia) but not featuring concentric zones.

Odor: Flesh, when fresh, somewhat foul and reminiscent of coal tar when sectioned.

Chemical Reactions: Tissues from dried specimens brownish when crushed in KOH.

Microscopic Features: Spores 5–9 x 3–4 µm; ellipsoid, with one end subfusiform, with a small pore at the narrowed end; smooth; biseriate; thick-walled; brown- to gray-walled in KOH and in water. Asci 8-spored; walls nearly invisible in KOH and water mounts; deliquescing along with the paraphyses so that spores are exuded from the perithecia in a gelatinous blackish matrix.

REFERENCES: (M. J. Berkeley & M. A. Curtis, 1869) J. A. Nannfeldt, 1972. (Ellis & Everhart, 1892; Nannfeldt, 1972; Hilber & Hilber, 1980; Horn, Kay & Abel, 1993; Goos, 1997; Winka, 2000; Vasilyeva et al., 2007; Binion et al., 2008; Kuo & Methven, 2010; Kuo & Methven, 2014; Elliott & Stephenson, 2018.) Herb. Kuo 10160407, 09190602, 11011501, 09012101.

This site contains no information about the edibility or toxicity of mushrooms.


Camarops petersii

Camarops petersii

Camarops petersii

Camarops petersii

Camarops petersii
Veil encases young specimens

Camarops petersii

Camarops petersii

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Kuo, M. (2022, February). Camarops petersii. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: