I was doing some yardwork this week and I came across this fine fungi. It produces tiny yellow cups about a tenth of an inch in diameter, often without stalks, that fruit in groups or dense clusters on decaying wood that has lost its bark.
Lemon Disco Fungus is fairly common, but is easily overlooked due to its small size. It is also wide-ranging and can be found in North Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Central and South America.
Fruit bodies begin as spherical, closed globules, before expanding to become shallowly cupped or disc-shaped. The inner surface becomes smooth and bright yellow, while the outer surface is a more pale yellow. Fruit bodies that are dried are wrinkled and have a dull orangish-brown color. Its species Latin name, citrina, is a derivation of the word citrin – which means “lemon-yellow.”
Like other fungi, Lemon Disco Fungus plays an important part of nature’s continuous rebirth by breaking down dead wood into useful nutrients. Fungi digest their food outside their bodies by releasing enzymes into the surrounding environment and converting organic matter into a form they can absorb; nothing else is able to perform the function of reducing these forest byproducts back down into soil.
It was a nice surprise to come across this tiny treasure on an otherwise ordinary day.