Red waxcaps are named after the waxy feel of their chitin cap. Their pointy caps are pyramidal in shape, with light and darker red vertical stripes descending from a singular point at the tip, all the way down to the rim of the cap. Lining the inside of the cap are thousands of gills where spores are released from.
The stem in every red waxcap will always branch out into several caps. The stem is a light cream colour, with a thick base that thins out as it extends upwards. The stems are weak and easy to break, and most fungi will break before they release spores.
Red waxcaps are found commonly throughout the Unuth Red Desert and rarely in the Zcarazas Plains. They live in shaded areas where winds are less dominant and the heat of the days are much less intense.
These waxcaps are the most common of the waxcap subspecies, as they have learnt to survive in the heat of their native deserts. These fungi produce excess cells in their caps that replace old ones that shrivel up and die as the high temperatures literally evaporate the water molecules in them, turning them to steam. One may notice the mushrooms feel warm or see gases leaving the caps; this is steam created from the boiling of the cells.
Red waxcaps produce millions of spores a day when they turn about 4 weeks old, or have become mature. Spores are released from between the gills and are carried away by the wind. Most spores are destroyed by heat and radiation, while the spores that somehow make it to shady areas will survive and grow into new red waxcaps.
Despite less than 0.001% of spores surviving and becoming new fungi, the population of red waxcaps have increased exponentially in recent years. This is due to adaptation; most existing red waxcaps can survive in higher temperatures than they used to, thanks to natural selection that killed off weaker spores.
Not For Slime Consumption
These fungi are eaten by most animals in the Unuth Red Desert ecosystem, but are extremely toxic to slimes. Red waxcaps produce a large amount of sodium bicarbonate, which produces carbon dioxide inside of slimes and every other animal on Osao.
Most animals can release this gas but not slimes - if too much carbon dioxide builds up in slimes, nerves will die and they will explode. Since their nerves are dead, the slime is considered dead too and cannot be brought back to life.
A planet in the Kurhira Solar System. Osao is home to the slimes, an intelligent sophont.
Unuth Red Desert
A desert on Osao. The Unuth Red Desert is the hottest place on the planet.
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
Oh no, poor slimes!! I love this fungus and I really like its response to heat. :D
Thank you so much! I thought I'd better add some actual detail to my article xD
My Bestiary Article!
Fun to see fungi get some love! They're indeed an often overlooked part as the prompt states. You've done a great job packing quite a lot of interesting facts about the species in a clear and concise manner. And those poor slimes! Is it a common problem that slimes ingest red waxcaps or do they have some instinct/mechanism telling them to avoid it?
Thank you so much! Slimes are the sophonts of Osao and can identify between red and other waxcaps, but some people don't know they're dangerous and eat them :D
My Bestiary Article!
I see! That's a relief at least to know there won't be too many unfortunate slimesplosions. :)