Mushroom discoverer has affinity for Spongebob

Dennis Desjardin, a San Francisco State University researcher, helped discover Spongiforma squarepantsii, a new mushroom species he named after Spongebob Squarepants, the children’s cartoon character.

How was this mushroom species discovered? Some of my colleagues from Cal were part of an expedition in Borneo doing some other research when they found this mushroom. They sent it off to me because they knew I had done some research on a similar species. After conducting tests on the mushroom and realizing it had never been formally named, I elevated it as a new genus.

What makes this mushroom so unique? It’s a very strange mushroom. Most mushrooms have a cap, some sort of spore and a stem. This one had none of those. It is the size of an egg and it’s basically an oval ball. It acts just like a sponge, too — you can squish it and wring water out of it.

How did you come up with naming it after Spongebob Squarepants? First, it looks just like a sponge. Also, it smelled fairly fruity, and Spongebob lives in a pineapple under the sea, so we just had to name it after him.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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