October 26, 2018

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Photographer: Kathy Arbuckle 
Summary Author: Kathy Arbuckle 

Each autumn delightful stars appear on the ground of the open woods as well as in the heavens (weather permitting) of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. These ground stars are commonly referred to as earthstars and are members of a genus of mushrooms called Geastrum, in the family Geastraceae. The name is derived from geo meaning Earth and aster meaning star. Even though they belong to the mushroom family, earthstars are considered to be inedible.

Earthstars play an important role feeding on decaying organic material, living most of the year underground as a typical fungal network. They reproduce by creating a spore sac above the ground level, where a ball splits open and its petals curl back in a star shape, revealing a sack of powder spores. Photos taken near Spokane, Washington on October 2017.

Photo Details: Top - Camera: NIKON COOLPIX P90; Software: Nikon Transfer 1.3 W; Exposure Time: 0.011s (1/95); Aperture: ƒ/4.0; ISO equivalent: 174; Focal Length (35mm): 85. Bottom - same except: Exposure Time: 0.014s (1/73); Aperture: ƒ/3.5; ISO equivalent: 91; Focal Length (35mm): 58.