Known and feared as ‘Black Mold’ stachybrotys is a common toxic mold with near worldwide distribution. A filementus fungi, the genus contains around 50 species, only some of which are toxic. It proliferates in damp or wet conditions and grows easily and quickly in and around buildings. The name stachybrotys comes from the Ancient Greek word stakhus (σταχυς) meaning ear of grain, stalk, stick and botrus (βότρυς) meaning a cluster or bunch as in grapes.
Stachybrotys was first described and named by August Carl Joseph Corda (1809–1849) the Czech physician and mycologist, who’s six volume Icones fungorum hucusque cognitorum defined his career. Both his parents died when Corda was an infant, and he was raised by his grandmother. Travelling between Berlin and Prague, Corda knew many great luminaries of his day, including the astronomer Alexander Von Humboldt, botanist Kurt Sprangel, and zoologist Martin Hinrich Lichtenstein, creator and director of the Berlin zoological gardens. He died very young at 40, returning from a collection trip to Texas.
Micrograph image of stachybrotys magnified 300x courtesy Hella Delicious, used with permission under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.
window. abandoned audubon nature center. new orleans east. november 2013.
I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with everyday pancake syrup that’s gotten a little more…vibrant…with age. But fostering floating colonies of fungi like some kind of moldy miniature Waterworld? Not so much.
Ann sent me this article not long back, having just enjoyed a full plate of waffles before looking inside her bottle of maple syrup. There she found a growing flotilla of what turned out to be a “xerophile,” a species more commonly found in hostile environments too dry for the average fungus. But isn’t syrup—well, isn’t it kind of—wet? Click through for the full story on this common breakfast interloper. —MN