105 weekly installments
Are you old enough to remember New Zealand’s Heritage in 105, 95c weekly parts. It was published following the enthusiasm for our history following the 1969 Bicentenary celebrations of Cook’s discovery of New Zealand. It said about the development of science in New Zealand:
Accounts of the survival of archaic forms of life amid exotic settings of temperate jungle and volcanic fantasy filtered back to European naturalists for the most part engrossed in classification or the study of systems. There were tales of snow-capped active volcanoes rising from pumice and ash desert scattered with “grass trees”; of boiling mudpools and geysers spurting in luxuriant tree-femed ravines; of the flightless kiwi bird and huge bones of the extinct moa; of “living fossils” among native shellfish.
Small wonder that some of the best European scientist-explorers set out, fascinated but sceptical, for the two remote little islands in the South Pacific. Some came to settle; this was the age of the generalist, when almost every educated man was interested in natural science, and William Colenso and other early missionaries, William Swainson, F.R.S. the farmer-ornithologist (better known as a painter), W. R. B. Mantell and many others added their records.
That Scot in Piptea Street
One of those men was the Scot John Buchanan. He came to Wellington from Dunedin when James Hector became director of the Geological Survey and Colonial Museum. For the twenty years John was in Wellington he lived in Piptea Street in Thorndon.John Buchanan played a significant role in scientific life of the community, the establishment of the Colonial Museum (later to become the Dominion Museum and then Te Papa) and the Wellington Botanic Garden. His influence was significant enough that the garden was referred to as the ‘Buchanical Garden’ by some at the time.
A first fungal list
I became aware of John Buchanan as a botanist, with a passing interest in fungi, while researching a checklist of fungi for the Wellington region in 1997. He published a list of 52 fungi in 1873 but because he did not cite specimens or locations, and as taxonomic concepts have changed I did not include them in the checklist.
Since then I became aware of John’s notebook, known as MS41, had been rediscovered and Linda Tyler, Director, Centre for Art Studies, University of Auckland sent me a PDF of it. It contained John’s fungal field notes that he based the 1873 upon. And excitingly it includes collections from around Wellington including the Botanic Garden. Here were notes from ‘my patch’ from 140 years ago.
Here are a few of the fungi from John’s notebook. The first is Ileodictyon cibarium collected in Wellington in May 1873. This fungus was described by Edmond Tulasne and Charles Tulasne in 1844.
Over the last couple of blogs I have talked about Clavogaster virescens. Here is John’s drawing and notes from the mid 1870’s. It was not to be named and described until 1890 by George Massee.
The last one is un-named but is clearly Amanita australis collected in Wellington in July 1875. This species would not be described or illustrated until 1962 by Greta Stevenson.
To know the man better read the biographies by Nancy Adams and the Friends of the Wellington Botanical Garden below. But to get a feel for the real man read Lyndia Tylers account of the herbarium battles between john and Thomas Kirk.
Buchanan J. 1873. Notes on the flora of the province of Wellington, with a list of plants collected therein. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 6: 210-235.
Dell RK. 2013. ‘Hector, James’, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 9 October 2013
Friends of the Wellington Botanical Garden Inc. “Old ‘Buckie’ and the ‘Buchanical Gardens'”
Tyler L. 2015. Botanical battles – John Buchanan and Thomas Kirk as illustrators in Hector’s Herbarium. Finding New Zealand’s Scientific Heritage Conference Handbook 23-24 November 2015 Victoria University of Wellington Wellington, New Zealand P. 18
He harore rangi tahi – a mushroom only lasts a single day *
What might be true for mushrooms is not true about emails and txts. Here are some of the fungi that people have asked me about.
Wellington Botanic Garden 10.07.2016
Lea Robertson asked if I had seen the bolete under the maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), below the herb garden, at the Wellington Botanic Garden. I wandered up there at lunchtime and there was a good, but now slightly old, flush of Suillus luteus [slippery-jack bolete].
Wellington’s Central Park 01.07.2016
Lea had asked earlier about an ‘earthball’ she had seen in Wellington’s Central Park. The photo she sent was a typical Scleroderma verrucosum. See more photos of Scleroderma verrucosum in my earlier blog.
Wood chips 24.06.2016
Eoin was seeking an identification of an LBM (little brown mushroom) he found growing on wood chip in his back garden. He described it as ‘tan brown with a wee nipple on top’, and stem as the ‘same colour as the cap’. Identifying LBMs is always a challenge especially from a photo. My best guess was it was a Galerina species, as they were fruiting in my garden at the same time. I thought it might be somewhere around Galerina nana.
Island Bay 13.06.2016
Olwen Mason reminded about the purple funnelcaps [Lepista nuda] that came up in here Island Bay garden in 2014 and that there were more now. She said that they weren’t as purple as last time and wondered whether they would colour-up as they aged.
Brian Ward asked if I could identify the mushrooms that come up in his Waikanae garden (Kapiti coast) each year. He said that they grew in the plum and oak leaf litter. Brian also said that they were identical to ones he saw under totara trees in Otaki.
Brian had made an attempt at an identification using books and thought maybe it was a ‘chantarel’. Given the typical gills run down the stem (decurrent) it wasn’t too bad an attempt. He also admitted that he had eaten them in previous years without ill effects. It is what we have been calling in New Zealand the cloudy funnelcap [Clitocybe nebularis].
This is the best fit for the New Zealand species but it might yet prove to be something else especially as molecular studies are carried out in Europe. In Europe Clitocybe nebularis is considered edible.
Jim Waters sent me his observations on fungi in pine plantations at Waitarere Beach. “As indicated the display has been impressive over the last few weeks. I was particularly interested in the brown upright rubbery fungi with sort two part, almost like leaves, growing … all round one Pinus radiata stump.” This threw me for a bit but I’m pretty sure that it is a false morel [Gyromitra infula] which Michael Kuo at MushroomExpert.com describes as “broadly lobed cap is usually pinched into two lobes, creating a saddle-shaped appearance”.Jim also said “I thought the very small white fungus in another stump looked like the recently infamous Split gill, but was not sure. Very small (3-4mm) and looked very like a very small piece of the head of cauliflower, until it is turned over as demonstrated.” And yes I agree with Jim’s identification – split-gill [Schizophyllum commune].
“The third one was the large “puff ball” like structure which looked as if it had started to deflate, but very big.” And the puff ball is the skull puffball [Calvatia craniiformis].
* Makareti, 1938. The Old time Maori. Victor Gollancz, London
During the Allied bombing of Berlin, 1 March 1943, the Botanical Museum was struck by a high explosive bomb and by a number of phosphorus canisters. The initial explosion killed one staff member and wounded two others. The resulting fire completely destroyed the herbarium. Amongst the specimens destroyed was a small paper envelope contain a fungus collected in New Zealand sometime before 1896. But more about that later.
I have previously blogged about ‘pouch, secotioid or sequestrate’ fungi. This time I want to talk about the three species grouped in the genus Weraroa – the scarlet, spindle and globose pouches and how their Latin names have changed over time.
The scarlet pouch was described in 1844 as Secotium erythrocephalum. Secotium was a large genus containing many fungi with different kinds of spores but united because of their pouch form. As the 20th century rolled on this large genus based on form became increasingly unacceptable and mycologists began to cut it up. The pouches with brown, rough walled spores largely ended up in Thaxtergaster while those with black, smooth walled spores went to Weraroa in 1958. Thus Secotium erythrocephalum became Weraroa erthtocephala. There it remained until the molecular studies of the 21st century showed that its relationship was with the mushroom formed species in Leratiomyces and so became Leratiomyces erythrocephalus in 2008.
The globose pouch’s story is similar but started later with it being described as Secotium nova-zelandiae in 1924. It too was moved to Weraroa as Weraroa novae-zelandiae in 1958. The recent molecular study in 2011 has shown that it belongs in the mushroom genus Psilocybes. Here it gets slightly complicated because there was already a species called Psilocybe novae-zelandiae described in 1979. So a new name had to be chosen and Weraroa novae-zelandiae became Psilocybe weraroa.
The spindle pouch was described in 1890 as Secotium virescens. It was mistakenly described again in 1924 as Secotium superbum. The mistake was realised and Secotium superbum became a synonym of Secotium virescens in 1942. Then as with the other two species it became Weraroa virescens in 1958. However the molecular work has not suggested that this species be put into an existing mushroom genus as has happened with the other two species. But it cannot stay in Weraroa as the type species of the genus is Weraroa novae-zelandiae which is now a synonym of Psilocybe [I know roll your eyes but persevere]. It must be put into an existing genus or a new one described.
This is where then bombing of the Berlin herbarium comes in. The little New Zealand fungus destroyed in the fire was Clavogaster novozelandiae described in 1896. It is believed that this fungus is the same as Secotium virescens. However ‘virecens’ is the older name (1890) so has priority over ‘novozelandiae’ so it becomes Clavogaster virecens. Well at least for the time being.
So although we have lost the form genus Weraroa it is still commemorated in the species name Psilocybe weraroa.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? And if no one is there see them do mushroom ever appear?
Back to Central Park
I had an email from Lea Robertson last Friday about fungi in Central Park, Wellington:
There is a cluster of fungi growing on the cut surface of a log on the right hand side of Caretaker’s track going up from the main lower entrance, and about a third of the way up. Have not seen them before, although they are probably common. Creamy yellow, sticky tops with black-brown spots, medium size. Would they be a hypholoma species perhaps? If you are walking in Central Park again soon…,
Rachel and I went there on Saturday. The Caretaker’s track is indeed just a rough track that runs a short distance, up the steep bank, from the near the main park entrance to Ohiro Rd. Just before it reaches Ohiro road there is a lot of rough retaining walls creating terrace around a flat grassed area with a park bench. I wonder whether this was the site of a caretaker’s house and garden?
As Lea said there was a well-rotted log of a fallen tree across the track with a section cut to let you walk along the track.
A scaly find
Sure enough there was a cluster of mushrooms not only growing from the cut face of the log on the upper side of the track but also on the blocks on the lower side. It wasn’t a Hypholoma but rather Pholiota adiposa [scaly flamecap] which I have blogged about before.
But along with the scaly flamecap there were many clusters of Armillaria novae-zelandiae [olive honeycap] along the entire length of the log.Then right at the very top of the log, where it was cross by another log, growing from a deep pile of insect frass was a clump of Flammulina velutipes. Just a few metres further down the track was a large clump of over mature Clitocybe nebularis [cloudy funnelcap] with mushrooms up to 18cm in diameter.
This photo shows the larger group bur they are all well past their prime.
Mt Bruce is a legendary in New Zealand biology as it was the place that the takahe, thought extinct but rediscovered in 1948, was brought back from the brink of extinction. It also legendary as being one of the last remnants of the Seventy Mile Bush. The Seventy Mile Bush was a name I occasionally came across but didn’t fully appreciate what it was until I started reading about William Colenso and his mycological collecting there:
IN the autumn of this year I again sent a lot of Fungi to Kew, London (with other plants, both Phænogams and Cryptogams), which I had discovered at various times during the last four years in my visits to the dense forests and deep glens of the Seventy-mile Bush district, County of Waipawa [Colenso, 1890]
A forest lost
The Seventy Mile Bush was a huge area of dense forest stretching from Masterton to central Hawkes Bay and across the east coast. Most of it was cleared for farming. In the 1870s the New Zealand Government bought the 942 ha Mt Bruce block as a forest reserve [administered by the Forest Service], with 55 ha being designated a native bird reserve under the control of the Wildlife Service. The government restructures of the late 1980s saw many of the government agencies responsible for conservation rolled into a single Department of Conservation which became responsible for the reserves.In 2001 the entire Mt Bruce block, of 942, was reunited into a single reserve. And then in 2013 its running passed to a community based charitable trust – The Pukaha Mount Bruce Board is a charitable trust.
In late February of this year Pukaha Mount Bruce held a bioblitz. I was going to go and help along with some other mycologist, Barbara Paulus and Di Batchelor. But because of the drought we decided it would better to wait until the autumn. Barbara and I finally got to there 5 June and here is what we found that day [note that I still have some work to do on the identifications].
Mycena sp. in tawa forest – on fallen log. Note: Maybe close to Marie Taylor’s Mycena dorotheae.
Mycena pura (?) in tawa forest growing in leaf litter.
Hypholoma acutum in tawa forest on fallen log. Note: Rubbish photo, sorry.
Hypholoma brunneum in tawa forest – on fallen log. Note: on same log as Hypholoma acutum.
Mycena roseoflava in tawa forest – on stump.
Nidula candida in tawa forest – on fallen wood.
Gyronemma sp. in tawa forest – on rotten tree fern rachis.
Armillaria novae-zealandiae in tawa forest – on fallen logs.
Favolaschia calocera in tawa forest – on fallen brances. Note: The orange colour has washed out in the photo.
Crinipellis procera in tawa forest – on leaf and twig litter.
Hygrophorus sp. in tawa forest amoungst litter.
Psathyrella sp. in tawa forest – on leaf litter.
Mycena mariae or parsonsii (?) in tawa forest – on stump.
Not sure what this is yet. In tawa forest in litter.
Xylaria sp. in tawa forest on a fallen log.
Hygrophorus sp. in tawa forest in litter.
Coral fungus in tawa forest amoungst litter. Note: I need to do some work on this yet.
Cyathus novaezelandiae in tawa forest on fallen wood.
Coprinellus disseminatus in tawa forest – on stump.
Morganella compacta in tawa forest – on fallen log.
Leratiomyces erythrocephalus [= Weraroa erythrocephala] in tawa forest – in leaf litter.
Conchomyces bursaeformis in tawa forest – on standing dead trunk.
Psilocybe weraroa [= Weraroa virescens] in tawa forest – in leaf litter.
Cortinarius sp. in red beech forest.
Lepiota sp. in red beech forest – in leaf litter.
Hebeloma mediorufum (?) in red beech forest.
Cortinarius rotundisporus in red beech forest.
Russula sp. in red beech forest.
Galerina patagonica in tawa forest – on fallen log.
Chalciporus piperatus in Douglas fir stand. Note: Amanita muscaria also present but very rotten.
Colenso, W. 1890. An enumeration of fungi recently discovered in New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 23: 391-398.
“What is it? It’s huge”
I got the above txt and a photo of a bolete from my son Lachie while he was walking in Central Park during Queen’s Birthday weekwnd. I asked directions and off I went to see for myself. It had been a long time since I had been to Central Park.
The wood of Central Park
Central park is 13ha of land on the flanks of a deep gully cut by the Moturua stream and bounded by Brookyln and Ohiro roads.
The area was probably cleared of native vegetation not long after the establishment of Wellington and parts were used rubbish tips.
Tree planting began in 1907 and its development as a park began in 1913 including a formal garden at the entrance at the city end.
Central Park is now a mixed woodland of pines, eucalypts, deciduous trees such as elms, limes. There is a significant regeneration of a native understorey beneath the pines and eucalypts.
Open your eyes and look
Walking in the main entrance I saw several Amanita muscaria growing near the base of a multi-stemmed pohutukawa [Metrosideros excela]. A quick looked around and I found a young oak on the other side of the pohutukawa, explaining the presence of the Amanita muscaria.I turned to the right where the path splits into three and I followed the central path which wanders through a pohutukawa woodland. Growing under these trees were more Amanita muscaria, Chalciporus piperatus, Cortinarius sp. and Russula amoenlens (?). But how could this be as I could not see any ectomycorrhizal trees only pohutukawa? So I went and looked at one of these pohutukawa and I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. These weren’t pohutukawa but rather North American southern live oak [but Quercus virginiana]. I good lesson in not assuming but actually looking and seeing.
A little further on, and still under the oaks, I found Lachie’s bolete. A single big fruit body – beautiful specimen of Boletus edulis – and a small well decayed one nearby. This is the third location I am aware of and each with a different host tree species – Pinus radiata, Quercus robur and Quercus virginiana.
Also not far from the bolete was a group of Hebeloma crustuliniforme (?).
Under the linden tree
Alone the edge of the third path which follows the Moturua stream up the centre of the Park is a row of limes or linden trees [Tilia cordata]. The lindens are immediately adjacent to the southern live oaks. These trees are of interest because Greta Stevenson wrote of finding a flush of Russula pectinata under these trees in April 1978. Jerry Cooper has been looking into the identity of this fungus. He is currently calling it Russula amoenlens but says the taxonomy is a mess. I have collected some of the Russula to send to him.
Stevenson G 1981. Antipodean association between Russula pectinata and planted limes. Bulletin of the British Mycological Society 15(1, April): 59-61.
Wellington City Council 2013. Wellington Town Belt Management Plan June 2013.
Generally when we think about Amanita we think of them associated with trees (well I do anyway). That is they are in a symbiotic relationship with those trees. But there is a group of Amanita, about 32 species worldwide, that is not symbiotic and grow as decay fungi. There are three species from this group in New Zealand:
- Amanita sp. “= Ridley sp. 2” or Noddy cap
- Amanita opinata
- Amanita nauseosa
Noddy cap and Amanita opinata are known from a number of sites around New Zealand whereas Amanita nauseosa is only known from one site in Northland. It is unlikely that any of these species are native as they are found associated with exotic vegetation or in native vegetation close to urban areas. In the case of the Noddy cap it is only known from New Zealand but its closest relative is Amanita thiersii from from central North America. I have previously blogged about Noddy cap and blogged about Amanita opinata.
Last week Conor Burke-Govey found a Noddy cap in the Fernery at Otari Wilton’s Bush. He took the series of photos below. Noddy cap has only been collected at Otari Wilton’s Bush once before in during the Bioblitz in 2007. It was collected a few metres away from Connor’s find.
Connor made the interesting observation that:
I really wish I could capture the smell though, it was terrible. Like rotting fish and garbage water.
This as far as I know has not been noted or recorded before.
Ridley GS 1991. The New Zealand species of Amanita (Fungi: Agaricales). Australian Systematic Botany 4: 325-354