E. hochstetteri is a mushroom, and it’s blue. It’s really, really, really blue—almost unbelievably blue, saturated in a way more often associated with kids’ markers or mouth-staining candy than with fungi. Padamsee, a mycologist at Manaaki Whenua–Landcare Research in Auckland and curator of the NZ Fungarium, did her graduate work in Minnesota and was more familiar with members of the Entoloma genus that live in North America. Many of those are saprobic decomposers, but others are mycorrhizal, meaning they absorb nutrients by entangling their threadlike hyphae around the roots of particular plants. And as far as Padamsee knows, none of the North American varieties are blue. She was surprised to find one in the middle of a forest, not obviously allied with a tree. It was a little island of blue in a sea of green.
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