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Biology

This fungus produces its fruit body (the visible part of the fungus) from late August to December. They can persist on the tree for up to six weeks, unusually long for a fungus. They have been known to fruit on the same tree annually for many years, and can continue to survive on the tree after it has fallen. Fungi are not plants. They cannot manufacture their own food, and belong to a kingdom all their own. The main part of the fungus is usually invisible, and consists of a mass of fine threads called mycelia, which are underground, or within the body of another organism. The fungus feeds by dissolving the host's tissue, living or dead, and absorbing the chemicals released. The visible part produces spores, the fungal equivalent of seeds. Not all fungi are destructive to their host. Many forms of heart rot fungi, formerly thought to confirm the death of an old tree, can actually extend its life. A trunk hollowed by these fungi remains as strong as a solid one but weighs much less, and is able to absorb wind shock better than a solid pillar. Other fungi growing on ailing tree limbs can assist in the limb's amputation, reducing the area of the tree's canopy and the demands on nutrients by the root system. The tree's roots can also grow into the hollowed out core and take advantage of the extra nutrients released into the soil by the action of the fungus. The net effect is a tree which is much less susceptible to wind blow, and which also has a well-fed old age.

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Source: ARKive

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