The driest January since 1879

 

In my last blog I noted that weather conditions over much of New Zealand were being described as pre-drought. The rainfall data for the Wellington city area as measured at the Karori Reservoir, shows that January 2015 rainfall is the lowest recorded since 1879 (Adlam, 2015). While on the east side of the harbour the Wainuiomata Reservoir recoded the lowest rainfall since 1890.

January rainfall distribution map for the Wellington region [from Adlam 2015]

January rainfall distribution map for the Wellington region[from Adlam 2015]

Despite the dry weather I saw the smooth puffball (Scleroderma albidum) growing in the fuchsia beds in the lower garden of the Wellington Botanic Garden (Ludlam Way/Glenmore St.) 28 January.

Scleroderma albidum [photo Geoff Ridley]

Scleroderma albidum [photo Geoff Ridley]

The grandfather of mycology in New Zealand, G.H. Cunningham (Dingley, 1998), first identified this fungus from New Zealand in his 1942 book The Gasteromycetes of Australia and New Zealand as Scleroderm flavidum forma macrosporum. Cunningham notes that he examined seven collections of this fungus from Wellington Botanic Gardens. Four of these collections, from 1922 and 1923, are still held in the fungal herbarium at Landcare Research in Auckland.

References

Adlam D 2015. Dry January records lowest rainfall since 1879. Greater Wellington Regional Council. Link here

Dingley JM 1998. Cunningham, Gordon Herriot, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Link here.

Post script, 8 February 2015

The dry weather continues and here are the same smooth puffballs (Scleroderma albidum) ten days later, 8 February.

Scleroderma albidum [photo Geoff Ridley]

Scleroderma albidum [photo Geoff Ridley]


A picnic at Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park

We went for a picnic at Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park, last Saturday (24 January 2015) and went for a walk through the southern beech forest along Bellbird and Honeydew tracks on the eastern side of the lake. As weather conditions over much of New Zealand are being described as pre-drought (at some point government will agree that it is a drought (Manning, 2015)) I was surprised to see any mushrooms at all.

Lake Rotoiti, looking south [photo Geoff Ridley]

Lake Rotoiti, looking south [photo Geoff Ridley]

Lake Rotoiti [photo Geoff Ridley]

Lake Rotoiti [photo Geoff Ridley]

Look south along the Honeydew Track [photo Geoff Ridley]

Look south along the Honeydew Track [photo Geoff Ridley]

On the side of the track under Nothofagus menziesii and N.solandri was a small group of lonely chalkcaps (Russula solitaria) with their pale brown caps. All of the mushrooms that I saw were drying out and past their best for good identification.

Russula solitaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Russula solitaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Further along the track, under Nothofagus solandri, where a few isolated magenta chalkcaps (Russula umerensis) [see A mainland island in the making: Kaipupu Point].

03 Russula

Russula umerensis [photo Geoff Ridley]

Russula 2 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Russula umerensis [photo Geoff Ridley]

I saw a single specimen of a Cortinarius, probably Cortinarius alboroseus. This was originally in a small genus call Cuphocybe as Cuphocybe alborosea. However molecular analysis has reduced Cuphocybe to a synonym of Cortinarius. Cuphocybe was recognised by its slimy cap. obviously missing under these dry conditions, and a flat foot to the base of the stem.

Cortinarius (Cuphocybe) [photo Geoff Ridley]

Cortinarius alboroseus (Cuphocybe alborosea) [photo Geoff Ridley]

Cortinarius (Cuphocybe) [photo Geoff Ridley]

Cortinarius alboroseus (Cuphocybe alborosea) [photo Geoff Ridley]

All in all not too bad for drought conditions. References Department of Conservation. Lake Rotoiti walking tracks. Link here Manning B 16 January 2015. New Zealand faces drought if rain brushes past. New Zealand Herald Link here


Te Ahumairangi Hill/ Wellington town belt

The last few weeks have seen a series of cold wet fronts push across New Zealand interspersed with hot dry highs giving a very mixed bag of weather – typical Wellington. As today was such a beautiful day we walked up to the Te Ahumairangi Trig lookout and then down through the town belt, the Northern Walk, to St Mary St, Thorndon.

Wellington from Te Ahumairangi Hill Trig lookout [photo Geoff Ridley]

Wellington from Te Ahumairangi Hill Trig lookout [photo Geoff Ridley]

The vegetation of  is described in from the Wellington Town Belt Management Plan – June 2013:

Te Ahumairangi (formerly known as Tinakori Hill) is a prominent ridge rising to 300m between the suburbs of Northland and Wadestown providing a backdrop to the central business district and Thorndon. Its height and dark colour make it [the escarpment] a dominant backdrop to inner city high-rise buildings.

The escarpment comprises the steep eastern vegetated hillsides facing the city containing a mosaic of pine forest and regenerating native forest, with deciduous woodland of primarily oak trees below Wadestown Road. On the lower slopes and in some places further up the steep gullies are large infestations of sycamore. The steep topography coupled with the abrupt edge at the base of the escarpment next to Grant Road limits access along this edge. The landscape is in a period of change following the removal of 10.5ha of hazardous trees in 2005 and 2006.

Te Ahumairangi Hill has undergone major changes in vegetation structure as a result of the storms of February and August 2004 that caused severe damage to the existing conifer forest. Over 10.5ha of conifer forest were damaged and subsequently removed. It is essential that during this period of major landscape change the distinct character of the hill is maintained as far as is practicable.

Just below the lookout the track cuts through the remain standing of pines [Pinus raditata]. The weather has stimulated some of the mycorrhizal mushroom species associated with pine to fruit early.

02 TeAhumairangi 2015.01.02.

Pines with an under storey of native species [photo Geoff Ridley]

 Two species were seen fruiting on the damp ground between the edge of the track and the bank. The first was the pine chalkcap [Russula amoenolens]. See my earlier comment about this species here.

03 Russula 2015.01.02

Pine chalkcap [Russula amoenolens] [photo Geoff Ridley]

04 Russula 2015.01.02

Pine chalkcap [Russula amoenolens] [photo Geoff Ridley]

The second species was the sticky-bun bolete [Suillus granulatus]. Read my earlier comments on this species here and here.

05 Suillus 2015.01.02

The sticky-bun bolete [Suillus granulatus] [photo Geoff Ridley]

Looking back up Te Ahumairangi Hill to the pines [photo Geoff Ridley]

Looking back up Te Ahumairangi Hill to the pines [photo Geoff Ridley]

The Botanic Gardens across the valley from Te Ahumairangi Trig lookout [photo Rachel Ridley]

The Botanic Gardens across the valley from Te Ahumairangi Trig lookout [photo Rachel Ridley]

Having got to St Mary St and Glenmore Rd we walked up the other side of the Valley through the Botanic Garden. Here was a third mycorrhizal mushroom species – the slippery-jack bolete [Suillus luteus].

06 Suillus 2015.01.02

the slippery-jack bolete [Suillus luteus] [photo Geoff Ridley]

07 Suillus 2015.01.02

the slippery-jack bolete [Suillus luteus] [photo Geoff Ridley]

 


Christmas day, 2014

After eating far too much for Christmas lunch we went for a walk across Ian Galloway Park to Karori Cemetery.  A the edge of the playing field in Ian Galloway Park there is a row of pines (Pinus radiata) [see earlier blog].

Pines, Ian Galloway Park [photo Geoff Ridley]

Pines, Ian Galloway Park [photo Geoff Ridley]

Under the pines there was a small cluster of large, immature,  Agaricus mushrooms. I had some correspondence with Edward Bowers last year about a similar mushroom and he suggested that this might be Agaricus bitorquis.

Agaricus bitorquis(?) [photo Geoff Ridley]

Agaricus bitorquis(?) [photo Geoff Ridley]

The association with pine may be only incidental as Agaricus bitorquis is considered a grassland or pasture species.


From harbour to hills

It is a week before Christmas and we have been having wet humid weather so after doing some Christmas shopping this morning I walked home from the central city home to Northland. The harbinger of Christmas are the pohutukawa [Metrosideros excela] which are beginning flowering all through the city. These are by the Civic Centre near the harbour foreshore.

Pohutukawa in flower, central city [photo Geoff Ridley]

Pohutukawa in flower, central city [photo Geoff Ridley]

 On the edge of the central business district is the Bolton Street Memoral Park. Back in May I lamented the removal of a stump that I had been recording the fungi on. Well you can’t keep a good fungus down and although the stump had been removed most of the major roots are still in place. This photo shows Crumble inkcap [Coprinellus micaceus] grow on a dead root.

Coprinus on dead tree root [photo Geoff Ridley]

Coprinellus micaceus [photo Geoff Ridley]

 In the fuchia garden that runs along the edge of the main garden and Glenmore St there was a clump of roundhead [Psathyrella] possibly Psathyrella conophila see earlier blog. These little roundheads are common on wood mulch.

Psathyrella conopila [photo Geoff Ridley]

Psathyrella conopila [photo Geoff Ridley]

02 Psathyrella conopila

Psathyrella conopila [photo Geoff Ridley]

 Close to the roundhead was a disintegrating Common scabbard [Volvariella gloiocephala = V. speciosa].

 

Volvariella [photo Geoff Ridley]

Volvariella gloiocephala [photo Geoff Ridley]

 Near the west entrance near the intersection of Glenmore St and Orangi Kaupapa Rd there is the fallen oak [Quercus robur] which has been mulched under to control weeds. There was a good fruiting of scarlet pouch [Weraroa erythrocephalus = Leratiomyces erythrocephalus] see earlier blog.

Wood mulch under the fallen oak [photo Geoff Ridley]

Wood mulch under the fallen oak [photo Geoff Ridley]

Wearoa fruit bodies grown on the mulch [photo Geoff Ridley]

Wearoa fruit bodies grown on the mulch [photo Geoff Ridley]

Weroa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Weraroa erythrocephalus [photo Geoff Ridley]

 Leaving the Botanic Garden and begin the climb up Orangi Kaupapa Rd this Ganoderma applanatum was grown on a stump just below the intersection with Garden Rd. All around the footpath here is a thick mat of the invasive weed Tradescantia fluminensis which can be seen in the photo.

Ganoderma apllanatum (photo Geoff Ridley]

Ganoderma apllanatum (photo Geoff Ridley]

Almost home. Looking back from Garden Rd across the Botanic Garden to the city and harbour.

Pohutukawa in flower, central city [photo Geoff Ridley]

Wellington [photo Geoff Ridley]


Bolton Street Memorial Park (5)

As we move towards late spring and early summer in the southern Pacific mushrooms are few and far between as conditions become dryer. The bit of rain that we had last weekend and early in the week produced this flush of crumble inkcap [Coprinellus micaceus]. Although appearing to be growing on soil the wood decay fungus is growing from the dead root of a near by tree [pohutukawa, Metrosideros excelsa].

crumble inkcap 1 2014.10.29

Crumble inkcap [photo Geoff Ridley]

crumble inkcap 2 2014.10.29

Crumble inkcap [photo Geoff Ridley]

Crumble inkcap [photo Geoff Ridley]

Crumble inkcap [photo Geoff Ridley]


Tulip fire

A feature of spring in Wellington is tulip day at the Botanic Garden. According to the Friends of the Wellington Botanic Garden tulip day started in the 1940s. It is possible that the first tulip day was 16 October 1944 from information supplied by the Wellington City Archive however it became a significant event in 1948 following a donation of tulip bulbs by the Netherland’s government as a thank you for sheltering children during WWII. The gardeners plant about 24,000 bulbs for the spring display.

Tulip Sunday 1948 [photo Friends of the Wellington Botanic Garden]

Tulip Sunday 1948 [photo Friends of the Wellington Botanic Garden]

Since moving back to Wellington last year I walk to work through the main garden and have watched the preparation, planting, and the emergence of the tulips over the last few months. At the end of last week large area of tulips in one bed were removed and the bed mulched over.

Looking across the new mulch [photo Geoff Ridley, 18 September]

Looking across the new mulch [photo Geoff Ridley, 18 September]

Signs have been erected and articles in the local papers explain that this bed has been badly affected by the disease ‘tulip fire’ (Anon, 2014). The disease is caused by a fungus Botrytis tulipae which infects all parts of the plant causing grey to brown lesions which may join up to cause a general dieback of the emerging tulips.

Tulips with tulip fire [photo Geoff Ridley, 18 September]

Tulips with tulip fire [photo Geoff Ridley, 18 September]

For a disease to develop there needs to a pathogen (Botrytis tulipae), a susceptible host (tulip), and a favourable environment. This is known as the disease triangle.

The disease triangle [diagram University of Wisconsin-Madison]

The disease triangle [diagram University of Wisconsin-Madison]

In this case we have had the pathogen since before 1948 (Dingley, 1969) but do we have the other two factors? According to Cornell University’s fact sheet a favourable environment is “cool (15°C), rainy spring and summer weather … can be particularly damaging when rainy, drizzly weather continues over several days”. Well, that pretty much describes Wellington weather most of the time.

So, we have two of the factors for disease development. That just leaves a susceptible host? The Botanic Garden has been growing tulips annually in these flower beds for 70 years with a low incidence of disease. The tulip cultivar most affected is the bright pink ‘Carola’ which was planted for the first time last year. So here is our susceptible host.

‘Carola’ [photo Jacques Amand]

‘Carola’ [photo Jacques Amand]

Botanic Garden staff members removed many of the worst diseases plants to control the spread of the disease and intend to apply “a one-off fungicide to nip it in the bud” (Anon, 2014). While this will solve the immediate problem what other long term solutions are available? Then most obvious is to break the triangle and not grow susceptible cultivars such as ‘Carola’.

The second is to reduce the presence of the pathogen in the soil. Botrytis tulipae forms black survival bodies or sclerotia which survive in the soil when tulips are not present. 

Sclerotia of Botrytis tulipae [photo 5458101, Sandra Jensen, Cornell University, Bugwood.org]

Sclerotia of Botrytis tulipae [photo 5458101, Sandra Jensen, Cornell University, Bugwood.org]

These could be eliminated by treating the soil with fungicide or other chemicals but this is not environmentally friendly. The other approach is to implement crop rotation as you would do in a vegetable garden. Interestingly there is not much written about this and I found only one article about in the Otago Daily Times (2014):

Crop rotation in the flower garden is also possible. Stocks and wallflowers in mass displays exhaust the soil in similar ways and should not follow each other. Likewise, if dahlias are grown in the same soil year after year, they will make excessive demands on some soil elements and plant quality will drop. Ideally, dahlias, gladioli, pansies, violas, tulips, hyacinths and narcissi should be planted in different areas of the garden each year. Rose-planting time has arrived and nurseries soon will be full of this most popular shrub.

The challenge in gardening is to work with natural processes to achieve the desired outcome. Look forward to seeing you at Tulip Sunday 21 September 2014 – enjoy the flowers and understand the fungus.

References

Amand, J. The tulip gallery. http://www.thetulipgallery.com/view/859

Anon, 2014. Council gardeners fight fire for tulip Sunday. Independent Herald (Wellington, 17 September 2014): 18.

Cornell University, 2013. Botrytis blight of tulip. Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. http://plantclinic.cornell.edu/factsheets/botrytisblighttulip.pdf

Dingley, J.M. 1969. Records of Plant Diseases in New Zealand. DSIR Bulletin No. 192. Government Printer: Wellington, New Zealand.

Friends of the Wellington Botanic Garden. Tulips. http://friendswbg.org.nz/newTULIPS.htm

Jensen, S. 2012. Mycelial neck rot. Cornell University, Bugwood.org http://www.insectimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=5458101

Otago Daily Times, 2014. Crop rotation important for healthy garden. 27 June 2014. http://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/home-garden/307255/crop-rotation-important-healthy-garden

Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, General Master Gardener Training. The disease triangle. http://www.plantpath.wisc.edu/PDDCEducation/ppt/img1.php

Post script

The photo below was taken 7 October when the last of the disease affected ‘Carola’ tulips had been removed from yhe infected bed. What was left was the ‘Black Diamond’ cultivar which is obviously has a resistance to the pathogen.

Disease resistant 'Black Diamond' tulips [photo Geoff Ridley]

Disease resistant ‘Black Diamond’ tulips [photo Geoff Ridley]


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