Here’s a bit of a contrast to the beautiful spring blossoms.

A pair of sinister mug-shots.

I don’t remember running across these before, but apparently they’re quite common.

“Devil’s Urn” or Urnula craterium.  (Based on extensive research for almost ninety seconds on the internet.)

One article indicates that if you blow into the cup, it may spray out a cloud of spores with an audible hiss.

Any volunteers?

In the original Star Trek, there’s an episode called “This Side of Paradise,” where some alien flowers spray spores onto the colonists from Earth, and establish a symbiotic relationship, giving them all perfect health.  The spores also cause Spock to fall in love & be happy, for the first time in his life.

So, everyone is healthy & happy & in love, and no one sees much point in flitting around space in a giant tin can, bothering the natives.  Luckily, Captain Kirk is there to save everyone from this horrible fate, and evacuates the planet, so everyone can get back to being normal humans, staring at computer screens all day and paying taxes.

If you remember, it was after this episode, that Sulu and Chekov started referring to a “Captain Buzzkill,” and Scotty suddenly couldn’t ever get the transporter to work right, and kept leaving Captain Jerk, sorry, Kirk, stranded on hostile planets.


Finger Lakes, FLX, Nature

Devil’s Urn


34 thoughts on “Devil’s Urn

  1. George says:

    Haha. I remember that episode! But at the age of 7 or whatever I was, I totally bought the idea that falling in love and being blissed out all the time instead of riding around in a spaceship shooting aliens was a fate worse than death. Funny how your perspective changes with age.

    • I thought the 60’s was all about hedonism, but I guess Gene Roddenberry was a former policeman and didn’t buy that hippie stuff. It never occurred to me, until this moment, that this is the Mutiny on the Bounty, isn’t it, the planet = Tahiti. That would’ve been a cool storyline.

  2. Darts and Letters says:

    haha, I don’t remember that episode! I’ll have to go back and find it, the boys and I like to watch them now and then. The last time we watched was amazing how much makeup Leonard Nimoy was wearing, like desiccated cake batter. And they hadn’t perfected his eyebrows to the signature look. It was early in the first season and they seem to have toned it down as time went on.

    I’ll pass on activating any spores too close up on these, that’s really cool, though.

    • If I’d known about the squirting thing, I would’ve followed standard scientific procedure, and poked them with a stick. Some of the internet articles said they may be edible, but gonna pass on that, too.
      My sister discovered Star Trek a year or two ago, and loves it. I just looked at an article about the makeup process, 1.5 hours the first season just to get the ears on! Nimoy must’ve had a lot of patience.

  3. It seems to me that at least once in our lifetime we have been touched by the spores of the Devil’s Urn. Thanks for researching this phenomenon so quickly on the Internet, Robert!

    • Thanks, Neil, it was a pretty intense minute and a half, but worth it. Of course, if I’m ever tempted to try eating any of these wild mushrooms, I’ll do a lot more reading. These black cups are supposedly edible, but somehow they don’t seem appetizing to me.

    • I’m very wary of wild mushrooms in general, and I really wouldn’t want to breathe in any spores from fungus. In Mexico and the southwest U.S. they have real problems with “valley fever” which I think is spread by spores.

    • Thanks, Lindsey, but a lot of the time, I just say “yuk” and give the fungus a wide berth, in case it’s the squirting or grabbing kind. And I haven’t even seen all the Shatner episodes, I don’t know if there’s still diehard Trekkies out there, but they’d realize pretty quickly I’m not in the club. I do like the relaxed atmosphere on that ship, the whole crew just hangs out in velour pajamas instead of uniforms,

    • Thank you, Otto. I liked the decorative rim on the “goblet.” I don’t take the TV show very seriously, and it definitely had a certain space cowboy/good guys vs bad guys element, but overall it had a nice humanist, peaceful approach to its stories. My sister & I watched some episodes with our parents, and despite being fifty years old, and obviously shot on a budget, it’s well-done and fun.

  4. When I was a kid, stomping on puffballs was one of our primary spring amusements. Ours were white rather than black, but inhaled spores might explain some of our other behavior. I like the way one of these ‘urns’ has held enough water to reflect the sky. I’m not sure, but I think I might see a little strange space vehicle trekking through the clouds.

    • Thanks, Linda, absolutely, it is hard to see a nice round puffball and not give it a boot. I’ll have to check next time, and before it kick it, make sure it isn’t a UFO that touched down for a little look-see.

  5. Now I wonder what a devil earns. Is it paid in black gold?

    I remember that Star Trek episode. It was weird to see Spock smile. I think Kirk was just jealous cause he wasn’t the one scoring the babe – ergo Capt. Buzzkill.

    • Haha, thanks Dave, yes, earn black gold, or an urn of Texas tea. It was strange indeed to see Spock smile, I guess that actress went on to be in a 1,000 TV shows and movies, although I don’t remember ever seeing her in anything, Jill Ireland.

  6. I had to look up Urnula craterium because with your imagination I’m not always sure if something is real. Urn is a strange word. It hardly ever gets used except in the context of funerals and second-year algebra courses, where so many balls of so many colors are said to have been put in an urn and you have to figure out the probability of randomly drawing some combination of colors.

  7. smackedpentax says:

    I think I remember that episode – I used to watch Star Trek in the 60’s but haven’t really watched it since 🙂

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