O-Cha Black Mushroom 565g Astraeus hygrometricus, commonly known as the earthstar fungus, is a unique and distinctive type of mushroom. Unlike most mushrooms that have a cap and stem, the earthstar fungus has a spore-bearing structure that looks like a star-shaped puffball. When it's young, the mushroom is enclosed in a round spore sac that sits on the ground. As it matures, the sac ruptures and expands, revealing the mushroom's spore-filled rays, giving it the appearance of a star.
The earthstar fungus is typically found in woodland areas and is widespread in different parts of the world. It has a preference for sandy or loose soils, especially after rainfall, which is where it gets its scientific name "hygrometricus" because it seems to respond to changes in humidity by opening and closing its rays.
Regarding culinary use, while the earthstar fungus is generally considered edible, it is not as widely used in cooking as more common mushroom varieties like shiitake or button mushrooms. The unique appearance and relatively rare occurrence of the earthstar fungus make it more of a curiosity for mushroom enthusiasts rather than a staple in the kitchen.