It hasn’t rained in Southwest Florida in a month but I let the kids play in the hose a few nights ago. The result was the emergence of Hygroscopic Earthstars. They are not technically true Earthstars but who cares. They’re just as cool. The hose water gave the fungus just enough moisture to grow fruiting bodies which you see here.
They have a symbiotic relationship with the Live Oak trees that are growing a few feet away. The fungus helps the tree extract phosphorus from the soil and the tree produces carbs for the fungus.
The fruiting body emerges from moist soil and the outer layer peels back, forming “rays” that give it a star like appearance. The rays fold under the puffball and lift it up out of the ground enough to help elevate it. When the mushroom is ripe, the rusty colored spores billow or "puff" from a hole like a volcano belching plumes of smoke into the wind. The spores scatter and start the process all over again. I love these things.