Smut Fungus

Sphacelotheca or Microbotryum ?

smut fungus in developing seeds of Persicaria from Eldoret, Kenya. Photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed in a marshy area near Eldoret, Kenya, April 2013. Host plant is a kind of Knotweed, probably Persicaria lapathifolia)", f. Polygonaceae.

The growths emerging from these flowering spikes of knotweed at left will release black teleo-spores as a fine powder resembling printer toner. The word 'smut' comes from the German word for dirt. The full life history leading to new plant infections involves a mating of compatible haploid spores. Probably very little is known about this species and its host plant specificity.

Basidiomycota -- Fungi

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens. Page created 15 May 2014