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Texas now has an official state mushroom

Yup, you read that right.

DALLAS — Plenty of states have official flora and fauna designations as part of their official symbols, like a state bird (the Northern Mockingbird for Texas) or state flower (Bluebonnets). But a state mushroom? That's pretty unique.

Texas just became the third state to designate an official mushroom when Gov. Greg Abbott signed a resolution on it Friday.

So what is the fabulous fungi? A Texas star mushroom, of course. 

The star-shaped fungus is "rare and rather unique," according to a news release from the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. 

The mushroom only grows in 16 counties in central and northern Texas, as well as parts of Oklahoma. But get this: it also grows in Japan, the only other country where it's been documented, the release explained.

The new symbol is "highly selective about where it grows, mostly attaching to decaying cedar elm stumps" and is also nicknamed the Devil's Cigar because when it begins to grow in the late fall, it starts out as a dark brown, fuzzy capsule that looks a bit like - you guessed it - a cigar. 

But it doesn't remain looking like a cigar for too long. 

“As this fungus matures, it splits open from its apex and forms a good-sized, brightly colored star and naturally, we have always thought it made sense for it to become the state fungus of the Lone Star State,” Harold Keller, a resident researcher with the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) said in the release.

As it transitions from a cigar to a star, it also what BRIT Research Scientist Bob O'Kennon described as "an audible hissing sound" as it releases spores that some say even looks like it's "puffing smoke." 

The scientific name of the mushroom, however, is Chorioactis geaster, for all the taxonomy nerds out there.

The mushroom is also so rare that it's likely only a few hundred people have seen it, according to the release. And no, it's not for human consumption, in case you do come across it. 

Those in North Texas can find it if they know where to look. Researchers say they found it growing "abundantly" along the Trinity River at River Legacy Park in Arlington back in the 1990s, and it's also been seen growing in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden as well. 

The Texas Legislature's resolution to make the mushroom officially a symbol described it as "custom designed" for the Texas landscape.

"A poignant reminder of the natural diversity that surrounds us, the Texas star mushroom is as uncommon and striking as the state that serves as its home," the resolution stated.

So, there you have it, folks: the state now has an official Lone Star mushroom.

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