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Natural Umbrellas – the Umbrella Bird, Umbrella Sedge and Umbrella Tree

Updated on November 7, 2016

Mother Nature's Umbrellas

We all use umbrellas to keep the rain off but Mother Nature has a bird and a plant and a tree that all get their names because of their likeness in some way to this handy accessory for protecting us from the weather.

There is an Umbrella Bird, an Umbrella Sedge and the Australian Umbrella Tree. Not only are there those examples but there are also many mushroom species that look like little umbrellas. There is the aptly named Parasol Mushroom for starters!

Umbrellabird

Long-wattled Umbrellabird
Long-wattled Umbrellabird | Source

Umbrellabirds

There are three species of Umbrellabird in the genus Cephalopterus. They get their name because of the unusual crests the birds have. The male Umbrellabirds have larger crests.

Umbrellabirds live in the rainforests of Central and South America where they feed on fruit, insects and small animal such as lizards. They are mainly black in colour and have inflatable wattles hanging from their necks which the male birds use to amplify the sound of their calls. The males assemble together and inflate their wattles in a display to attract females of their species.

The three types of Umbrellabird are the Amazonian Umbrellabird (C. ornatus), the Long-wattled Umbrellabird (C. penduliger) and the Bare-necked Umbrellabird (C. glabricollis).

Umbrella Bird

Umbrella Sedge

Cyperus alternifolius the Umbrella Sedge
Cyperus alternifolius the Umbrella Sedge | Source

Umbrella Sedge

The Umbrella Sedge (Cyperus alternifolius) is also known as the Umbrella Palm and Umbrella Papyrus. It is an attractive plant that is often grown as a houseplant or in gardens for its ornamental value. It likes a very damp habitat and is often planted at the edges of ponds and in water gardens.

The Umbrella Sedge gets its name from the way the grass-like leaves spread out in a rosette at the top of the plant’s stems. These rosettes, by the way, can be removed and used to propagate the plant very easily. Leave a little bit of stalk beneath each one and let them stand in water. Roots are soon produced and the new Umbrella Sedges can be planted elsewhere.

Australian Umbrella Tree

Australian Umbrella Tree in flower by a Tenerife garden pool
Australian Umbrella Tree in flower by a Tenerife garden pool | Source

The Australian Umbrella Tree

The Australian Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla) is a very striking tree that comes as its name suggests from Australia where it is found in the rainforests of Queensland but it also is to be found in Java and New Guinea.

The Australian Umbrella Tree gets its name from its evergreen leaves that are carried in groups that look like umbrellas. It has spikes of dark reddish flowers that are produced at the top of the tree and are carried in groups that stick up into the air above at the top of the parent trees. It is also known as the Octopus Tree.

The Australian Umbrella Tree sometimes grows as an epiphyte in the trunks of palms and other species of tree. It is commonly grown for its ornamental qualities in many subtropical and tropical areas of the world.

Parasol Mushroom

Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)
Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) | Source

Parasol Mushrooms

Many species of mushroom and toadstool look very like parasols or umbrellas and one large species is known as the Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera). It is edible and delicious and often found growing in fields and at the edges of woods. It can reach as much as seven inches across a fully expanded cap which is carried at the top of a tall stalk and looks very like a parasol.

Parasol Mushrooms are usually found between July and November and grow in the UK and Europe and are a very popular edible wild mushroom that gets collected. They are prepared by removing the stems and then frying the caps in oil or butter. Richard Mabey gives them a Class A status in his classic book for foragers Food For Free.

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Interesting and well done.

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 3 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      Parasol mushrooms are delicious! Used to pick them when I lived in ex-Yugoslavia (have had nil luck finding any edible mushrooms in the UK!). Some of them grew really large, with the cap becoming flat and sometimes reaching the size of a plate. One excellent way we used to prepare them was to use the whole mushroom cap as a "pizza base". We'd put tomato sauce, herbs, standard pizza toppings and cheese on top and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Yum!

      BTW, one very good identifier of the edible parasol mushroom is the fact that it is possible to slide the ring around the stalk up and down, because it separates from the stalk as the mushroom matures.

    • Green Bard profile image
      Author

      Steve Andrews 3 years ago from Tenerife

      Thank you for your comments, Ericdierker and WriteAngled! That is a brilliant recipe that sounds delicious! I have found Parasol Mushrooms up the Wenallt and once in my back garden in Ely but other weird fungi grew there too - Earthstars!

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