Every month, Duinconservation tells about what can be seen in the dunes that month. This month in the ‘Today in the Dune’ section we are looking for Stuifballs
Today the twenty-first episode:
Looking for Dustballs
Pollens are mushrooms. They are not that big and not very noticeable, but nice to see. And what’s also nice: they are not rare. If you know what to look for, you can easily find them, especially in winter.
A rabbit droppings on a stalk
Pollen balls are so-called pollen fungi. These are fungi that usually form spherical mushrooms. The spores fly out into the wide world through a hole or crack in the bulb. In pollen balls, the spores are contained in a gray-white or light yellow-brown ball that is about the size of a rabbit droppings. That bulb stands on a yellow or reddish-brown stem of 3 to 4 centimeters, often partially hidden in the dune sand or among moss. There is a hole on top of the ball. If you tap it gently, you will see how the spores come out and are carried away by the wind.
Between dune stars
The most common pollen ball that you see in the Dutch dunes is the stalked pollen ball. This grows in dune grasslands on a calcareous soil, with bare spots and mosses, usually in the first kilometer behind the foredune. Often the sand has been a little drifted not long ago. The stalked dune ball likes to grow among mosses, especially the easily recognizable, striking yellow-green dune ball in winter.
Blossoms can be found all winter, most commonly from November to February. Unlike most picture fungi, a pollen ball stays in place for a long time. The ball becomes almost completely white as it ages.
If you look carefully and occasionally get down on your knees to check whether the ball is indeed on a stem, you will probably be able to find a pollen ball during a winter walk in the outdoor dune!
Dune Conservation is the independent foundation for coastal protection. In the interest of nature and people. Because we cherish the coast. Knowing more? Go to www.duinhouden.nl.