Have you spotted this rare old fellow?

The witches’ cauldron is a wrinkled, brown fungus – between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball. The fruiting bodies of this fungus appear immediately after the snowmelt and are black on the inside and velvety brown on the outside. There is a gelatinous fluid present inside the fruiting body. The fungus later turns brown and slimy.

DNV has been able to survey this species in Nordre Land municipality in 2019. This rare fungus was presumed extinct in Norway since 1937 but was rediscovered in 2009. The witches’ cauldron now is a Norwegian Red Listed species, category EN (endangered).

 

As of today, witches’ cauldron has only been recorded in three areas in Norway: in Hønefoss along the River Storelva, north of Lillehammer along the River Lågen and in Nordre and Søndre Land municipalities along the River Dokka, River Etna and the rivers Kumperudelva and Lauselva. The fungus thrives in old-growth, chalk-rich spruce forest along rivers.

 

The witches cauldron is found along in Northern Europe and North America. It has been made extinct in much of Central Europe. The fungus has very specific habitat requirements and is easily disturbed by road or house construction in the surrounded area. Witches cauldron disappears quickly from areas of clear-fell. How a warmer climate will affect the witches’ cauldron is not yet understood.

 

Maybe you have spotted this rare old fellow whilst walking in the forest? Please record any observations on artsobservasjoner.no!

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Figure 1: Witches' cauldron is happiest alongside running water under an old spruce tree (Photo: Lea Hoch)

 

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Figure 2: Rain collects in the fungus’ barrel (Photo: Lea Hoch)

 

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Figure 3: Two older fruiting bodies that have become a light brown colour, the barrel shape is not as visible at this stage. (Photo: Lea Hoch)