Pele's Apotheosis & the Mushroom Mystery

By Geoline




Pele's Cavern Bonsai after summer pruning in July 1997.


A funny thing popped-up on this Hawaiian Ficus benjamina planting... More detailed photos of this cavern bonsai will be taken later as I ran out of film after taking this last shot before turning rolls of film over to a photo developer.


Mystery Mushroom from two views:
Dr. Nina Shishkoff, a phytopathologist at the Long Island Horticultural Research Lab, suggested that this fun guy mushroom could be Leucocoprinus birnbaumii. I believe Nina's guess is correct. Kudos to Nina for steering me in the right direction to identifying this mushroom. I did not put this mushroom there and none of my other potted ornamentals have this mushroom growing in their pots. I believe the spores and mycelia must have come from the Ficus benjamina's original nursery container.
Leucocoprinus birnbaumii grows on rich organic compost and also happens to be found on the floors Hawaii's lush tropical rain forests. This mushroom starts-off bright yellow and phallus shaped opening into a striated parasol cap that turns brown with age. It is poisonous, so I must keep it away from the dogs.
I think that it is so cool that the mushroom is found in the forests of Hawaii, since this bonsai is done in honor of Pele's apotheosis in to the goddess of fire. The lava forms a cave to the right of the Ficus.
Pele fled with her royal clan into a fortified Puna cavern to escape the over zealous suitor, Kamapuaa. When Pele flatly refused to marry or have anything to do with Kamapuaa, he made a vow to take her by force. King Kalakaua notes in THE MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF HAWAII (Japan copyright 1972 by Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc.) that several days into the siege after Kamapuaa tried to burn the royal family out of the fortified cavern and then tried to dig them out, the earth trembled violently and lava poured from the hillside. Kamapuaa's small army fled Puna by canoe and watched as the lava filled the valley where the cavern which Pele and her family sought refuge in.
Pele and her family were already known as powerful kahunas who were associated with the spirits of the mountains and volcano. Her legend as the goddess of fire grew when she and her family were buried alive in that Puna cavern in a flood of lava. Residents of neighboring districts said that Pele did not die, but made her home in the Kilauea crater.
If Pele resides in the lava cavern, then the Ficus must be Kamapuaa lusting after the beautiful fire goddess.



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