My collaborator in producing the Mushrooms and other fungi of New Zealand, Don Horne, died yesterday. I met Don and his wife Gwen at the first New Zealand Fungal Foray held in Thames in 1986. I was one year into my PhD and with only one season of collecting mushrooms behind me. The Foray was held over a weekend and in the evening there were talks and slide shows. Don’s slide show was the first time I had seen truly beautiful and artistic photos of New Zealand fungi.
Don explained how he took the photo and where he took it and quite often would put a name to the mushroom that he had gleaned from overseas books so were often a good guess but not correct. Don’s photos were artistic and often did not include the necessary detail, such as gills and stem shape, to make an identification which was hugely frustrating to those of us that wanted to know what they were.
Don and I became regular attendees at the annual Forays and over the next couple of years I was able to convince him that he should not only take an artistic shot of the mushroom but also a diagnostic shot, and even better to keep a voucher specimen so a robust identification could be made. Over the next ten years or so Don’s photos appeared in a number of magazine articles on New Zealand fungi but his goal was to produce a book. In the late 90s he persuaded Reed Publishing to do a fungal guide book in its New Zealand nature series. I realised that this was very much Don’s book so when he asked me to help him write it a declined but volunteered to proof it and check the identifications. The book was duly published in 2000.
Don then set his sights on postage stamps. New Zealand had issued stamps based on native flowers, insects, and birds but never on fungi. Don was determined to change this and in 2002 a six stamps featuring his photographs were issued by New Zealand Post.
Now Don was ready to do another mushroom book. He really always wanted to do a coffee table / large format book to feature his mushroom photos. Unfortunately most publishers considered the market too small for such a book in New Zealand. But in his discussion with publishers New Holland Press expressed interest in publishing a mushroom book in their pocket field guide series. New Holland was keen to have a more scientific text to accompany the photos so Don again approached me. So we became collaborators and the book was published in 2006 and is just about to have, in 2014, its fourth reprint. In the strange way that publishing works I was considered the author with photos by Don. I always felt bad about this convention as his photos standalone without the text but the text is nothing without the photos.
Don helped to illuminate mycology in New Zealand and he will be missed.
Last Sunday, 9 March 2014, I made my first trip to Otari-Wilton’s Bush for this years fungal season. Despite a cool dry summer there were a few larger fungi about. These were mostly wood decay fungi as this substrate tends to hold water longer than leaf litter or the soil. The only exception was a parasol mushroom, Lepiota sp., growing in the thick litter below a stand of mixed podocarps and kauri by the information centre.
Many of the paths below the Cockayne Lawn and Lookout have been freshly mulched with wood chip and in the deeper damper patches haresfoot inkcaps, Coprinopsis lagopus, was fruiting.
In the Fernery a few orange poreconch, Favolaschia calocera, were growing on small dead branches mixed in the leaf litter.
Tree species making up the canopy above the Fernery includes tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa) a hardwood species. Several trees had Agrocybe parasitica fruiting on their trunks. Agrocybe parasitica is a heart rot fungus.
A little brown fungus, possibly the bush shank, Heimiomyces neovelutipes, was found on a well decayed log in the Fernery.
The native shiitake, Lentinellus novae-zelandiae, was fruiting on rotting logs just behind the carpark at the edge of the Fernery.
On the Circular Walk track that leads down the hill from the Fernery to the Kaiwharawhara stream a single fruit body of the white porcelain slimecap, Oudemansiell australis, was growing on the well decayed branches of a fallen hinau (Elaeocarpus dentatus). This pure white mushroom was difficult to photograph so there is not a lot of detail present.
A few metres further down the track was another decaying tree trunk with wood-ear jelly, Auricularia cornea, growing on the damper underside.
I’d like to apologise to those who follow this blog for the lack of posts over the last five months. I have since my last posting changed job, sold my house and moved to a different city. Now it is time to pick up the threads. Here are few fungi that have come my way in the last few months.
I was in Martinborough in the Wairarapa (south-east corner of the North Island) on a training course in mid-October. In a strip of garden sandwiched between the road and the drive way were a number of tree stumps sprouting bracket fungi. These were the brackets of two relatively common species.
The most prolific on this stump is Trametes versicolor which is very common on all kinds of decomposing wood in forests, parks and gardens. It is distinctive in its concentric bands of greys and browns and with a pale margin. The underside of the bracket is white to very pale brown and dotted with fine pores which are lined with the cells that produce its spores. The brackets are thinnish, up to about 5mm thick, and leathery.
The other orange bracket is Pycnoporus coccineus which produces thicker more robust bracket than T. versicolor but always fewer in number as in this example. Young fruit-bodies tend to be brilliant orange but with age they can become more pale or with some brown colouring, and may be slightly banded. Again as with the previous species the underside of the bracket is densely pored.
A week later in Seymour Square in Blenheim (north-east of the South Island) I spotted these large Volvariella gloiocephala (= V. speciosa), or the common scabbard, growing in the perennial flower bed. These are common in flower beds that have been mulched – in this case with pea straw.
They usually appear when the mulch is about a year old and are seldom seen after this unless fresh mulch is applied. The distinctive feature of this species is its pink spore print and the large egg like volva or sack at the base of the stem from which the cap and stem grow out of.
I colleague sent me this photo this morning, 22 November, of what he described as cat sick. He found it growing amongst grass in a garden.
This is a slime mould, Fulego septica, commonly called dogs vomit fungus/mould, scrambled eggs mould, or flowers of tan he found in Strathmore Park, Wellington. The latter is the most descriptive of its habitat where it was often seen fruiting (the ’flower’) on tan bark, shredded bark from which tannins were extracted for the leather tanning industry. In New Zealand it is often seen fruiting in gardens that have been mulched with bark as in this case. The bright yellow fruit-body will quickly turn into a grey brown powdery mass.
This last summer has been notable in being dry and followed by a reasonably wet autumn (see The drought has broken). So there were plenty of fungi around for the foray, 25-26 May 2013. Below is the list of what we did see.
Otari garden - an exhibition garden of low growing New Zealand native plants but not native to the local area) mulched with wood chips.
Lepiota sp. [a parasol] – this was in the garden under Nothofagus solandri. This is the first collection of this species at Otari.
Leratiomyces ceres [scarlet roundhead] – on wood chip. For more on this mushroom go to my blog here.
Weraroa erythrocephala [scarlet pouch] – in the wood chip mulch and in litter in mixed forest.
Clitocybe nebularis [cloudy funnelcap] – not so much in the garden as down the bank in the bush. Large mushrooms up 25cm diameter and usually in groups or even arranged in arcs in the bush.
Lacramaria lacrymabunda [weeping widow] – solid mushrooms, with a shaggy surface, mottled blackish kills, and a fibrous ring at top of stem. This is the first collection of this species at Otari.
Beech (Nothofagus) grove – this grove was planted as beech is not native to the Wellington peninsular. We haven’t in the past found much here but being a month later there is a lot more to be seen.
Russula acrolamellata [ugly chalkcap]. This mushroom has a brown to golden cap and white stem. Like all chalk cap the stem snaps when bent. If you are prepared to chew a little of the gill tissue on the tip of your tongue it should be quite hot hence the name acrolamellata or acrid gills. We also saw it under kanuka.
Amanita nothofagi [charcoal flycap] – this is an mycorrhizal species which means it is only found growing on the roots of southern beech or teatree. It is related to the scarlet flycap, with its red cap and white warts, seen under pines. Several mushrooms were present.
Coprinellus (Coprinus) disseminatus [sociable inkcap] – A common inkcap found growing on dead wood in all kinds of habitats.
Tylopylus brunneus [cocoa bolete] – Last collected here in 2011. This bolete bruises blue-grey.
I put the cut fruitbody, from above, on paper to dry and the fluid from it seeped into paper where it has reacted with the air and turned the classic blue of this reaction.
Circular walk from Information Centre – this is an area of original broadleaf-podocarp forest but with an underplanted collection of plants that would be expected in this type of forest.
Micromphale sp. [garlic shanklet] – on bark of living totara. If you cup on of these mushroom in your hands and put your hands over your nose you can smell the distinct odour of gallic.
Agaricus sp. [a mushroom] – Growing next to boardwalk in kauri litter. Tall brown mushroom. This is the first collection of this species at Otari. This is very similar to Marie Taylor’s collection GMT737 (PDD84327) which she collected in 1972 from under kauri in Northcote, Auckland.
Lepiota sp. [a parasol] – This was growing under totara.
Mycena pura [lilac helmet] – This distinctive lilac mushroom was growing in the leaf litter.
Favolashia calocera (orange poreconch) – on fallen branches.
Agrocybe parasitica [tree swordbelt] – on living hardwood.
Heimiomyces neovelutipes [bush shank] – Growing on decaying wood.
Armillaria novaezelandae [olive honeycap] – on rotten wood.
Mycena sp. [a helmet] – A very dark coloured Mycena growing on wood. It is similar to Ian Hoods figure 143. It also looks like Jerry Cooper’s Mycena sp. ‘Ahuriri Reserve (PDD80918)’.
Lentinellus novae-zelandiae [bush shiitake] – on rotting log.
I thought I would take the opportunity to clear my inbox and share the treasures with.
I was sent this photo of boletes collected from under oaks in Hagley Park in Christchurch. The characteristic features of these boletes are the finally cracking cap surface exposing the underlying flesh, the yellowish pore surface and upper stem and the reddish base to the stem.
I went back to the sender and asked if where the brown skin of the cap has cracked is the flesh underneath slightly pinkish or is it yellow? If you cut the stem lengthwise it should be reddish near the bottom, after a few minutes exposure to the air does the cut flesh turn bluish? His response was no to both questions. This does show the difficulty of identifying specimens that are past their prime. If we look at both characteristics in turn: The cracking of the cap is quite apparent but the exposure of the reddish underlying tissue is not reliable as it changes with the age. Also many of the description in fact say that the underlying tissue is only pinkish and usually only towards the margin of the cap. As these specimens look reasonably weather beaten and quite dry it is not surprising that the pinkish flesh is not obvious.
The second characteristic is the bluing of the bruised or cut flesh. While seeming a strong feature one description says “sometimes blueing when bruised” and “this reaction takes several seconds with the blueing never as intense”. Not a great character for beginners. If you look carefully at the tube surface of the two boletes in which this character can be seen you will see grey bruising on the pore surface where the bolete has been handled. In some species blue bruising can be greyish and/or be bluish initially then turn grey.
Given that I only have a photo my pick is that this is Xerocomus chrysenteron [red-cracked bolete]. The only other species which it could be is Xerocomus porosporus which I have only seen in Dunedin.
Gracie MacKinley found this large puffball in Greenhithe, Auckland. It is probably Calvatia craniiformis [brain puffball] however it would be difficult to identify as it is immature. You can tell this from the solid white flesh inside the puffball.
As the puffball matures the flesh will convert to spore producing cells. Each of these cells will produce four spores. Once the spores are developed they will dry out to become a powdery yellowish green mass inside the leathery shell of the puffball. Eventually the shell will break to release the spores to the wind. During the drying process the puffball becomes wrinkled like a human brain. The solid white flesh of the immature puffball of Calvatia craniiformis is edible.
Keelan Walker in Blenheim sent me these photos of a bolete under pines. I asked Keelan whether they were sticky on top or did it look like it could have been sticky because pine needle etc. have become firmly stuck to the cap? Did the stem look smooth or spotted with darker markings? When you cut through the flesh length-wise (cut it in two equal halves including the full length of the stem) does any of the cut flesh turn bluish or bluish-black?
Keelan responded “seems to be a sticky substance on the top and on the stem but I don’t notice any spots. When I cut it through the middle there is no blue/black colouring. There is a yellowish/sulphur type colouring tainting the flesh of the cap through”. All useful observations and indicate that this is Suillus granulatus [sticky-bun bolete].
Jan Nisbet photo, from the Whareroa Farm walk about 3.5 km north of Paekakariki, while not a fungus is topical at the moment.
This is a slime mould, Physarium cinereum, which is common at this time of the year on the blades of grass. Slime moulds live as free living organisms in the soil engulfing micro-organisms as a food source. When the reproductive urge takes hold they climb to a high place, in this case blades of grass, and convert, almost metamorphosis, into these rigid fungal like fruiting bodies. The fruitbodies will become hard, break and release spores to start the process again.
Ginelle Simoes left a message on my blog About page last night alerting me to mushrooms growing in the wood mulch under the pohutukawas at the intersection of Jervois Quay, Wakefield St and Taranaki St. Like any good mycologist I was down there at 9pm last night in the dark taking photos and collecting specimens. These were large white and brown, shaggy Chlorophyllum (Macrolepiota) rhacodes and smaller dark brown species of Agaricus. Chlorophyllum rhacodes is regularly eaten as are species of Agaricus (the mushrooms in the supermarket are a species of Agaricus).
Update 24 May 2013
Here is a closer view of the ‘double ring’ found in Chlorophyllum rhacodes as mentioned by Jerry in the correspondence below.
I was doing honours degree the year that the 13th International Botanical Congress was held in Sydney in 1981. Many foreign botanists and mycologist passed through New Zealand either on their way to the Congress or on their way home. One of these was Harry Thiers (Thiers and Halling 2003) who gave a presentation at Victoria University of Wellington on his research into secotioid fungi.
This group of fungi had for a long time been called tobacco pouch or pouch fungi. It obviously made sense way back when as tobacco pouches were common objects but in 1981 I had no idea what one was. It was wasn’t until the age of the internet that I saw that they were often small draw string bags that closed and created a pleated pouch very much like the form of this group of fungi. Here is an example of a linen tobacco pouch used by German soldiers during World War I which rather than a draw string has a brass ring to close it.
However by the 1950s it was realised that there were a group of pouch fungi that clustered, at least in their gross morphology, around the genus Secotium in the family Secotiaceae. Researchers such as A.H.Smith and Rolf Singer began to refer to them as secotiaceous and then secotioid fungi which simply mean Secotium-like. Secotium is from Greek and refers to the chambered internal flesh (the gleba). I have likened it to the appearance of aero-chocolate.
Unfortunately names have a limited life and in 1992 Kendrick introduced the term ‘sequestrate’ for this grouping. It refers to the sequestered or hidden away spores which can only be released when the fruitbody rots or is eaten.
During this time it was realised that the members of the sequestrate fungi were not closely related to each other but more closely related to normal mushrooms based on spore characteristcs. Thus the sequestrate genus Secotium has similar spores to the mushroom genus Agaricus, and Thaxterogaster has the same spore form as Cortinarius. The big question was which way had evolution proceeded? Was the sequestrate form the ancient form with the aero-like gleba evolving into gills or did the aero-like gleba represent the failure of gills to develop. The general consensus today is that the sequestrate form has evolved from the mushroom form by the fusion of gill tissue to form a gleba and the loss of a mechanism to flick spores into the air.
There are two interesting things to consider about sequestrate fungi. The first is that a great many species can be found in the dry eucalypt forest and the desert of Australia. This has led to the idea that the sequestrate form has evolved to protect the gills and the forming spores from dehydration and death by keeping them enclosed in the moist gleba.
The second thing is the loss of the ability to release spores which has been compensated for by the sequestrate fungi being very attractive food for animals and in particular mammals. Some very interesting work has been done in Australia to show the importance of potoroos and bettongs, small herbivorous marsupials, in the dispersal of these fungi (Lepp 2012). This is mirrored on other continents where rodents such as squirrels gather and hide sequestrate fungi. Many of these fungi are not colourful and have scents to attract the mammals.
But this leaves a big question, New Zealand is not dry and does not have any native mammals so why do we have so many species of sequestrate fungi? One possibility is that despite there being plenty of water New Zealand vegetation suffered from physiological drought during the long period of glaciation of the ice ages. For instance during the last glacial maximum 21 thousand years ago much of New Zealand was was dominated by cool grasslands and shrublands with only small isolated forest pockets. It could easily be imagined how sequestrate forms would evolve to cope with these cool conditions.
However the problem of spore dispersal persists as there were no mammals. As noted above many of the mammal dispersed sequestrate fungi are not colourful. This is in stark contrast to the New Zealand species which are brightly coloured. This led Ross Beaver (1993) to suggest that these were typical bird attracting colours and that birds might be the dispersal agent for the spores. He suggested that these fungi were mimicking fruits and berries and here is his photo of Weraoa erythrocephala with the fruits of supplejack (Ripogonum scandens) and miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea).
Given that no bird species living in New Zealand are known to eat sequestrate fungi Ross speculated that it might have been the now extinct large, flightless ratites, the moa, that inhabited New Zealand up until fairly recently.
Usually when I tell this story I finish by saying that while it is an interesting story we can never know the answer without a living moa to observe. Then a few months ago I saw the following picture of the Queensland ratite, the cassowary (Casuarius casuarius), feeding on quandong fruit (Elaeocarpus angustifolius).
The quandong fruit look like Thaxterogaster (Cortinarius porphyroideus) so it becomes easy to imagine moa being attracted to them and acting as the spore disperser.
Beever, RE 1993. Dispersal of truffle-like fungi in New Zealand. In Hill RS Southern Temperate Ecosystems: Origin and Diversification 22. Hobart, Australia.
Kendrick, B. 1992. The Fifth Kingdom. 2nd Edition. Mycologue Publications, 8727 Lochside Dr., Sidney, BC V8L 1M8, Canada.
Kubasik M 2013. Pommersches Pionier Bataillon Nr. 2. http://pommerschespionier.com/index.php/collection/various/tobacco-pouch/
Lepp H 2013. Australian fungi: fungal ecology: fungi and vertebrates. Australian National Botanic Gardens and Australian National Herbarium, Canberra. http://www.anbg.gov.au/fungi/ecology-vertebrates.html
Newnham R, McGlone M, Moar N, Wimhurst J, Vandergoes M 2012. The vegetation cover of New Zealand at the last glacial maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews. In press.
Schouten P No date. Peter Schouten Wildlife Artist. http://www.studioschouten.com.au/
TerraNature Trust 2010. New Zealand ecology: flightless
Thiers BM, Halling RE 2003. Harry D. Thiers, 1919-2000. Mycologia 95: 1271-1275.
Ziegler C 2013. World Press Photo competition
2013, Nature, 1st prize singles, Christian Ziegler. http://www.worldpressphoto.org/awards/2013/nature/christian-ziegler
April saw a significant break in what has been described the worst drought in 30 years for New Zealand. However as the MetService pointed out for Wellington the rain came but it just didn’t come very evenly.
The rain that has arrived in April, along with the cooling temperatures, has seen a flush of mushrooms. The pictures below followed the two days of rain that fell in Marlborough, 20-21 April 2013. They are two species of coprinoid mushrooms that had in the past been known as Coprinus but now are placed in the genera Parasola and Coprinellus.
Parasola plicata (Japanese-unbrella inkcap): Generally recorded from lawns and grass you can see that in these photos that it also occurs in garden amongst exotic shrubs and bulbs such as grape hyacinths. This is a small, up to about 20mm diameter, delicate mushroom. They usually appear overnight and can be gone within a few hours.
Coprinellus micaceus (glistening inkcap): I um’ed and ah’ed over this one as it can be very difficult to make an identification from a photo. I finally came to the conclusion that it was the glistening inkcap and that it is probably growing on dead woody roots under the grass. Normally you would expect to see glistening mica-like particles on the cap surface however these can be quickly lost especially during rain as in this case. What really threw me was the third photo which I think was taken without a flash so that the brown colours are lost and the hygrophanous drying (the paling of the cap) is emphasised. Initially I thought that this might be a third species.
As this is my first full mushroom blog for the 2013 season here is a catch-up of some of stragglers that have been about over the last month.
Agaricus campestris (horse mushroom): This large mushroom was growing in my backyard at the seep line at the base of a garden retaining wall. Marie Taylor (1981) describes the ring as “double, and consists of a smooth upper membrane with a circle of thick, cottony patches marking the tips of a cogwheel pattern”. These cottony patches can be clearly seen in the photo of the overturned mushroom.
Paxillus involutus (birch rollrim): This common fungus is found associated with the roots of birch (Betula pendular). It is easily recognised by its slightly funnelled shape cap with the rolled under margin, its gills running down the stem (decurrent), and its brown spore print. This group was growing in the garden above the horse mushroom.
Leucoagaricus naucinus (smooth parasol) [= Leucoagaricus leucothites]: This all white species including a white spore print was growing a well mulched flower bed. These are common but usually only in ones or twos.
Thelephora terrestris: This little fungus was given to me by Ricardo Palma, Curator of Insects at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington. It was growing on his lawn in Waikanae about 4m from a liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua) and a northern hemisphere beech (Fagus sp.). It is known to be associated with the roots (ectomycorrhizal) on many species including birch. This specimen is also old and ratty looking and has split into many lobes compared to the one at the Californian fungi website which has a perfect margin. This is one of the many problems in identifying from photos in guide books and website as the old and the ratty seldom get there photos published.
Taylor, M. 1981. Mushrooms and Toadstools. A.H. and A.W. Reed Ltd: Wellington, New Zealand.