Smoker’s-lung milkcap – Lactarius turpis

Walking through the Wellington Botanic Garden today I found smoker’s-lung milkcap [Lactaris turpis] growing under silver birch [Betula pendula] between the Mamaku Way track and Glenmore Rd.

Smoker’s-lung milkcap [photo Geoff Ridley]

Smoker’s-lung milkcap [photo Geoff Ridley]

Smoker’s-lung milkcap is recognised by it dark motley cap and is sometimes known as the ugly milkcap. I have only collected this once before from under silver birch in Dunedin.

I am only a where of two other collections of smoker’s-lung milkcap from Wellington city. These where identified by Greta Stevenson from the Botanic Garden in April 1979 and from Kelburn Park in May 1980.

As a milkcap is should bleed white sap when cut but these specimens are old and a little dehydrated.

The other test for this species is to put a drop of ammonia solution on the cap which immediately goes brilliant purple. I also tried it on the stem and on the cut flesh of the cap and got a good purple reaction. In the picture below soaked the ammonia solution up with the paper towel and you can see the almost blue black colour it has gone.

Purple staining with ammonia on the stem [photo Geoff Ridley]

Purple staining with ammonia on the stem [photo Geoff Ridley]

Purple staining of the cut flesh when a drop of ammonia is added [photo Geoff Ridley]

Purple staining of the cut flesh when a drop of ammonia is added [photo Geoff Ridley]

You can read about other species that occur under silver birch here


A tumble of scarlet pouches

Walking home this afternoon I saw this group of scarlet pouches [Leratiomyces erythrocephalus = Weraroa erythocephala] in on the edge of the Early Settles Memorial Lawn in the Bolton Street Memorial Park. This area has an over storey of exotic pines abd oaks with regenerating native bush amongst the graves and has also been mulched with wood chip. From the path you look down an amphithestre of stone stone steps to the lawn. The scarlet pouches looked like Jaffas that have tumbled down the tiered flooring in a picture theatre.

Early Settles Memorial Lawn [photo Geoff Ridley]

Early Settles Memorial Lawn [photo Geoff Ridley]

Scarlet pouches (photo Geoff Ridley]

Scarlet pouches (photo Geoff Ridley]

Scarlet pouches (photo Geoff Ridley]

Scarlet pouches (photo Geoff Ridley]

Scarlet pouches (photo Geoff Ridley]

Scarlet pouches (photo Geoff Ridley]

Jaffas are a kiwi iconic candy and only found here in New Zealand (and also Australia, but shhh). They were around long ago, and if you ask some of the ‘older’ generation they will tell you stories of rolling jaffa’s down the picture theatre (cinema) aisle as a child. That means they must be at least 50 years old! We hold these Jaffa’s with such prestige that as part of the Cadbury chocolate festival, we race jaffas down the steepest street in the world [in Dunedin] – just to make a statement. The jaffa is made from delectable dark chocolate covered in an orange flavoured candy shell. [from NZsnowtours]

The Cadbury Jaffa Race has been run down the worldÕs steepest street, Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, New Zealand, since 2002. It has raised more than $450,000 for local charities including Cure Kids, Canteen, Dunedin Kindergarten Association, The Malcam Charitable Trust, The Otago Community Hospice, primary schools throughout Otago and Southland and nationally through Parents Centre NZ Inc. [photo DunedinNZ.com]

The Cadbury Jaffa Race has been run down the world’s steepest street, Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, New Zealand, since 2002. It has raised more than $450,000 for local charities including Cure Kids, Canteen, Dunedin Kindergarten Association, The Malcam Charitable Trust, The Otago Community Hospice, primary schools throughout Otago and Southland and nationally through Parents Centre NZ Inc. [photo DunedinNZ.com]

Read more about Leratiomyces here

 


Who is the weeping widow?

Back in 1971 Egon Horak wrote:

During our collecting trips in New Zealand, we collected on two occasions a species closely related to L. velutina … In both cases the fungus grew along roadsides. The … unresolved problem is whether the fungus is introduced or indigenous.

Then in 1981 Marie Taylor included Lacrymaria velutina in her book of New Zealand fungi. She said that they could be found growing in rich pasture or waste ground.

When you look at the European literature and websites two names generally appear – Lacrymaria velutina and Lacrymaria lacrymabunda. They are now considered to be the same species and the preferred name is Lacrymaria lacrymabunda.

My first encounter with Lacrymaria was in Dunedin in 1989 with one collection from a lawn in Ravensbourne and the other from my garden in Mornington. Using Marie’s book identified them as Lacrymaria velutina.

Lacrymaria, Mornington, Dunedin 1989 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Lacrymaria, Mornington, Dunedin 1989 [photo Geoff Ridley]

I didn’t really look at them again until 2013 when I found them at Otari Wilton’s bush, then again this year and included them in my blog. The 2013 collection was from the New Zealand native plant garden which is heavily mulched with wood chip. The second, 2015, was in native bush that has been under planted with more native species and is more lightly mulched. Both sites are within a hundred metres of each other and are peri-urban being within 50 metres of urban housing. I am not aware that any collections have been made within more intact native forest.

Lacrymaria, Otari Wilton's Bush, 2013 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Lacrymaria, Otari Wilton’s Bush, 2013 [photo Geoff Ridley]

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Lacrymaria, Otari Wilton’s Bush, 2013 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Lacrymaria, Otari Wilton's Bush, 2015 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Lacrymaria, Otari Wilton’s Bush, 2015 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Jerry Cooper has suggested that because they are quite shaggy they might be the Australian species Lacrymaria asperospora. Again this is a species I do not know but Roy Watling looked at it in 1979 and said:

Macroscopically the caespitose [growing in clumps or tufts] habit, Jong stipe and greyer hues of the pileus [cap], and the habitat preference of growing on or close to wood distinguish L. asperospora [from Lacrymaria lacrymabunda]. Present observations show strikingly large size and robustness as features of this species, but perhaps a more representative range of collections is really needed to establish these characters.

Neale Bouger and Katrina Syme give the habitat of Lacrymaria asperospora as wet forest tracks, dump sites, roadsides, and Genevieve Gates and David Ratkowsky say often along roadsides and in other disturbed places.

In the last month I have also received photos from an urban garden, not far from Otari-Wilton Bush, of a Lacrymaria which I have suggested is Lacrymaria lacrymabunda, however it struck me as very shaggy and pale in colour for this species.

Lacrymaria OM 1

Lacrymaria [photo Olwen Mason]

Lacrymaria [photo Olwen Mason]

Lacrymaria [photo Olwen Mason]

Lacrymaria [photo Olwen Mason]

Lacrymaria [photo Olwen Mason]

So is our weeping widow Lacrymaria lacrymabunda or Lacrymaria asperospora? I’ll let you know when I find out.

References

Bougher NL, Syme K 1998. Fungi of southern Australia. University of Western Australia Press.

Gate G, Ratkowsky D 2014. A field guide to Tasmanian fungi. Tasmanian Field Naturalist Club

Taylor GM 1981. Mushrooms and toadstools. AH and AW Reed, Wellington

Watling R 1979. Studies in the genera Lacrymaria and Panaeolus. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh 37: 369-379


The balding webcap

Back in 2004 I wrote a paper on why English language names for larger fungi were useful, note not common names, and suggested a systematic way in which to form them. In the paper I also created names, using this system, for all of the mushrooms in Marie Taylor’s book Mushrooms and toadstool of New Zealand.

Balding webcap [Cortinarius sp.] [photo Don Horne]

Balding webcap [Cortinarius sp.] [photo Don Horne]

When Don Horne and I wrote the Mushrooms and other fungi of New Zealand I used the names already developed in the 2004 paper as well as created new ones for those not dealt with in that paper. One of these names was the bald webcap for an unnamed Cortinarius species. This was derived from the thatch of course fibrils which covered the young mushroom cap but were then progressively lost as the cap became increasingly bald. To my knowledge this Cortinarius remained formally undescribed and unnamed, i.e. no Latin binomial.

Recently Steve Reekie wrote to me suggesting that the balding webcap might be Cortinarius rhipiduranus published in 2008, two years after our book. Steve’s beautiful photos can be found here [single, group].

Balding webcap [Cortinarius sp.] [photo Steve Reekie]

Balding webcap [Cortinarius sp.] [photo Steve Reekie]

Balding webcap [Cortinarius sp.] [photo Steve Reekie]

Balding webcap [Cortinarius sp.] [photo Steve Reekie]

The rhipiduranus is in reference to the colouring of the mushroom being reminecent of the colouring of the tīwaiwaka or fantail [Rhipidura fuliginosa]; fanciful connection without being useful as an aid to identification.

Fantail [photo Southland Times photographer John Hawkins]

Tīwaiwaka or fantail [photo Southland Times photographer John Hawkins]

Steve’s mushrooms do look like the same one as Don and I called the balding webcap but whether or not they both represent Cortinarius rhipiduranus still needs to be determined.

References

Gasparini B, Soop K 2008. Contribution to the knowledge of Cortinarius [Agaricales, Cortinariaceae] of Tasmania (Australia) and New Zealand. Australasian Mycologist 27(3): 173-203. Link here

Ridley GS 2004. A system for the development of English language names for agarics and boletes in New Zealand (and Australia?). Australasian Mycologist 23(1): 27–30. Link here

Taylor GM 1981. Mushrooms and toadstools. AH and AW Reed, Wellington.


Geoff’s pouch: Nivatogastrium baylisianum

 

Professor of Botany Geoff Baylis

Professor of Botany Geoff Baylis

In 1989 Rachel and I moved to Dunedin where I was to lecture in the Botany Department at the University of Otago. Here I met the retired former Professor of Botany Geoff Baylis for the first time. He generously let me use a bedsit at his George St house while we house hunted. This was one of two huge old houses Geoff owned and Alan Mark wrote in his biography of Geoff:

Geoff had many close friends and was renowned for his frequent hosting of parties. These were mostly at his spacious flat in the Victorian mansion, ‘Threave’, at 367 High St, originally designed (by famous architect R. A. Lawson) as a retirement home for early Central Otago run-holder Watson Shennan. He later bought, restored and maintained the several flats in this spacious house to a very high standard. Being an admirer of stately homes, he later also acquired and restored another at 521 George St, with its impressive garden fronting Dunedin’s main street. Geoff spent many of his outdoor hours in Dunedin, relaxing and engrossed, tending the gardens of both properties, with their remarkable range of native and exotic plants. Many of Geoff’s parties were preceded by garden tours, often at the guests’request. His house restoration efforts were duly recognised with an Historic Places award in 1979.

Threave, High St Dunedin, 2011 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Threave, High St Dunedin, 2011 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Rachel and I, along with our just beginning to walk son Nathaniel, were invited to dinner at ‘Threave’. A lasting memory is walking into the two storied vestibule of Threave with its massive wooded staircase and think our modest two bedroom bungalow would easily sit in this space. Geoff’s apartment was on the second floor and included the second floor of the two storied turret that dominated the south-west corner of the building and gave sweeping views across South Dunedin to the ocean. Here in the turret he plied us with pink gins. The dinner was ham, salad and boiled potatoes and Rachel saying later it was a real bachelor’s dinner – something he did well and often.

Threave, High St Dunedin, 2011 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Threave, High St Dunedin, 2011 [photo Geoff Ridley]

Geoff had dabbled in mycology his whole career and had hosted Egon Horak on one of his many trips to New Zealand to collect mushrooms. In a booklet created for the mycologist Barbara Segedin on her retirement from the University of Auckland Geoff contributed this:

The cap must fit

When Egon and Marianne Horak were collecting in Otago they stayed with me, I showed Egon a little gasteromycete from tussock grassland for which I could find no name.

It duly became Nivatogastrium baylisianum.

On a class excursion I saw one and could not resist saying “That little fungus is named after me.” One of the girls was obviously puzzled but her frown cleared when she compared the little tan-coloured dome in the grass with my sunburnt bald head, “I can see the resemblance” she said.

Nivatogastrium baylisianum [from Horak 1971]

Nivatogastrium baylisianum [from Horak 1971]

Geoff’s pouch [Nivatogastrium baylisianum] has been an elusive species but recently has been recollected from the original collecting site in the Rock and Pillar Range in Otago [collected by Kathy Warburton and identified by Jerry Cooper]. No doubt there will be a name change as the molecular data unravels the true relationships of the pouch fungi [see my blog Pouch, secotioid, or sequestrate? and The scarlet roundhead].

Nivatogastrium baylisianum [photo Kathy Warburton]

Nivatogastrium baylisianum [photo Kathy Warburton]

There are four species in the genus Nivatogastrium. The type species Nivatogastrium nubigenum was described from North America whereas the other three species, including Nivatogastrium baylisianum, are all from New Zealand. Nivatogastrium nubigenum is closely related to the mushroom genus Pholiota and Jerry Cooper’s preliminary work suggests that Nivatogastrium baylisianum is closer to the mushroom genus Deconica. I’ll let you know the outcome.

References

Horak E. 1971. Contributions to the Knowledge of the Agaricales s.l. (Fungi) of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 9: 463-93. Link here

Mark A 2004. Geoffrey Thomas Sandford Baylis. 2004 Academy Yearbook, Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Link here

Nature Watch New Zealand 2015. Discovery: critically rare fungus rediscovered. Link here


You’re not in Guatemala now Dr Ropata

“You’re not in Guatemala now Dr Ropata” is surely the most famous line in New Zealand television history. Even those who never saw this or any other episode of Shortland Street they will recognise the quote.

Carrie Burton delivers the infamous line to Hone Ropata [still from Shortland Street]

Carrie Burton delivers the infamous line to Hone Ropata [still from Shortland Street]

I found myself not in Guatemala last week when I was contacted by Ruben Solares with an identification question. He sent me a link to pictures of fungal fruit bodies he had collected from under oaks [Quercus].

Malformed fruit body [photo Ruben Solares]

Malformed fruit body [photo Ruben Solares]

Malformed fruit body [photo Ruben Solares]

Malformed fruit body [photo Ruben Solares]

Malformed fruit body [photo Ruben Solares]

Malformed fruit body [photo Ruben Solares]

 The collections from previous years showed bright blue colour when the flesh was cut and the large fleshy fruitbodies suggested a bolete. The lack of blueing this year is not significant as I have often found the reaction not consistently reliable.

Malformed fruit body showing blueing on cut surface[photo Ruben Solares]

Malformed fruit body showing blueing on cut surface[photo Ruben Solares]

Malformed fruit body but not blueing [photo Ruben Solares]

Malformed fruit body but not blueing [photo Ruben Solares]

 I have no personal experience of the fungi of Central America but flicking through the limited literature that I have I felt Ruben’s find was reminiscent of Luis Gómez’s 1996 illustration of Pulveroboletus ravenellii. Again my feeling is that this is a malformed bolete rather than something typical.

Pulveroboletus ravenellii upper righ [Gómez 1996]

Pulveroboletus ravenellii upper righ [Gómez 1996]

Ruben tells me that normal fruit bodies of Pulveroboletus ravenellii also occur in this area (link here).

Pulveroboletus ravenellii [photo Ruben Solares]

Pulveroboletus ravenellii [photo Ruben Solares]

I contacted Roy Halling at the New York Botanical Garden as he has expert knowledge of Central American boletes. His response was that this looked like a “deformed, aborted bolete”. Like all species in nature there will always be individuals that for one reason or another cannot reproduce and this is as true for fungi as it is for any other groups of organisms. Using classical morphological methods will not work in the case of malformed fruit bodies as the characteristics that are needed do not form. This is probably a case where molecular techniques might solve the puzzle of what species it is.

Reference

Gómez PLD 1996. Basidiomicetes de Costa Rica: Xerocomus, Chalciporus, Pulveroboletus, Boletellus, Xanthoconium (Agaricales: Boletaceae). Revista de Biologia Tropica 44 (Supplement 4): 59-89.

PS The parasitic fungus Hypomyces (apicocrea) chrysospermus on a bolete. (link here)

Hypomyces (apicocrea) chrysospermus [photo Stinkhorn]

Hypomyces (apicocrea) chrysospermus [photo Stinkhorn]


A wet Tuesday in April

 

Having noted the dry conditions for the Otari-Wiltons bush Fungal Foray last Sunday, 26 April 2015, Monday afternoon brought 40 – 50mm of rain across Wellington over the next 24 hour period. Having only seen collapsed and mummified mushrooms on Sunday here is what I saw walking home from the CBD through the Bolton Street Memorial Park and Wellington Botanic Garden.

In the lower section of the Bolton Street Memorial Park under a century old Pinus radiata  was this swarm of sticky-bun bolete [Suillus granulatus]. Read my earlier comments on this species here and here.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Suillus granulatus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Within a few centimetres of the sticky-bun boletes was the pine chalkcap [Russula amoenolens]. See my earlier comment about this species here.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

In the upper section of the Park Hebeloma crustuliniforme growing on a grave between the Seddon and the Holland Memorials at the top of the Robertson Way path.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Hebeloma crustuliniforme [photo Geoff Ridley]

On the edge of the Lady Norwood Rose Garden in the Botanic Garden there is a row of silver birches [Betula pendula]. Fruiting under the birches were a number of birch boletes [Leccinum scabrum] and another small group under birches in West Way path. I took both home to see if the internal tissues blued when exposed to air but there was no change – see here for previous discussion of this reaction. The other interesting this about these fruit bodies as the appear to have been scalped by something but I don’t know what.

Leccinum scabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Leccinum scabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Leccinum scabrum [photo Geoff Ridley]

Also growing with the birch boletes were common deceiver [Laccaria laccata].

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Laccaria laccata [photo Geoff Ridley]

There was a single scarlet flycap [Amanita muscaria] growing under the pines on the Pine Hill Path. I have included it here to show how variable the fruit bodies  can be. Here it is orange on the outer rim of the cap and red in the centre with only a few white warts toward edge of the cap. Compare this with the photos below of another scarlet flycap growing under silver birch on West Way path. Here the whole cap is deep red and thickly studded with white warts. It would be easy to think that we have found two different species.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Also growing under the birch  on West Way were birch rollrims. Since the 1calling Paxillus involutus but recent work in Europe has shown that there are a number of closely related species. It has turned out that the species in New Zealand is Paxillus cuprinus as it did not turn green when exposed to ammonia solution – the test used to separate it from the other species in New Zealand Paxillus ammoniavirescens.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Growing amongst the birch boletes were some small dark brown mushrooms that are a species of webcap [Cortinarius] possible somewhere around Cortinarius rigidus.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

Cortinarius sp. [photo Geoff Ridley]

Growing on the grass, on the West Way, but not associated with trees was the field mushroom [Agaricus compestri]. note the pink gills which will turn dark brown as the spores on their surfaces mature.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]

The scarlet pouch [Leratiomyces erythrocephalus = Weraroa erythrocephala] is a native species which taken advantage of the trend to mulch gardens as can be seen here growing on mulch under a specimen tree of Metasequoia glyptostroboides at the end of West Way.

[photo Geoff Ridley]

[photo Geoff Ridley]


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