The autumn rains begin

I was down in Ashburton at the weekend and I saw these scarlet flycaps [Amanita muscaria] growing in the garden near the information centre on East St. They were growing under English oak [Quercus robur].

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Amanita muscaria [photo Geoff Ridley]

Tropical cyclone Pam followed by several fronts moving up off the Southern Ocean has brought significant rain to New Zealand this month. The rain has stirred the fungi in to activity.

Tropical Cyclone Pam

Tropical Cyclone Pam

Back in Wellington and walking through the Botanic Garden today there was a mixture of birch bolete [Leccinum scabrum, see blog 12 May 2012] and birch rollrim [Paxillus involutus, see blog 30 April 2013].


Autumn brings a little torrential rain

On Friday and Saturday, 6 and 7 March, Wellington had a couple of torrential downpours. It was probably too much too quickly for much of it to soak into the soil. And the dry warm weather is predicted to continue through March

Flooding on Brooklyn Road, Mount Cook, Wellington. [photo Rebecca Thomson]

Flooding on Brooklyn Road, Mount Cook, Wellington. [photo Rebecca Thomson]

The rain did bring a small flush of mushrooms in the fuchsa border in the Wellingon Botanic Garden. The fuchsia border is irrigated a couple of times a week so was primed and ready to go when the weather turned a bit cooler and wetter last Friday.

The main flush was a Psilocybe. It looks similar to Psilocybe subaeruginosa which is known to fruit in garden mulched with wood chips like the fuchsia border. Here the Psilocybe is fruiting amongst Fuchsia procumbens.

Psilocybe aff.  subaeruginosa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Psilocybe aff. subaeruginosa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Psilocybe aff.  subaeruginosa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Psilocybe aff. subaeruginosa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Young fruitbodies of Psilocybe aff.  subaeruginosa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Young fruitbodies of Psilocybe aff. subaeruginosa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Psilocybe aff.  subaeruginosa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Psilocybe aff. subaeruginosa [photo Geoff Ridley]

Psilocybe aff.  subaeruginosa spore print [photo Geoff Ridley]

Psilocybe aff. subaeruginosa spore print [photo Geoff Ridley]

 These specimens are similar in all features to Psilocybe subaeruginosa (Johnston and Buchanan, 1995)except that it does not bruise blue or green-blue when handled or crushed. I am not sure how universal this characteristic is for the species.

PS: Since publishing this blog Jerry Cooper has suggested that it might be Leratiomyces squamosus. These little brown and black  spored species are trying at the best of times. I had considered the genus Leratiomyces as there did not seem to be any substantial ring on the stem and no scales on the cap. I will have to keep an eye out for some new specimens.

Also seen again was the know very old fruitbody of Scleroderma albidum which featured in a blog six weeks ago (see here).

Scleroderma albidum [photo Geoff Ridley]

Scleroderma albidum [photo Geoff Ridley]

And a single mushroom of Harefoot inkcap [Coprinopsis lagopus].

Coprinopsis lagopus [photo Geoff Ridley]

Coprinopsis lagopus [photo Geoff Ridley]

 Reference

Donoghue T, 2015. More wild weather expected in central New Zealand Stuff.co.nz Link here

Johnston PR, Buchanan PK, 1995. The genus Psilocybe (Agaricales) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 33: 379-388. Link here

 

 


False chanterelles, drought, and astronauts

NASA released this incredible photo of New Zealand showing the top of the South Island (to the left in the photo) and the lower North Island (to the right) taken on the 24 of January 2015. Being the land of the ‘long white cloud’ photos like this are rare as much of the country is obscured by cloud.  Also the astronauts on the International Space Station are usually asleep when passing over New Zealand!

New Zealand from the international Space Station [photo NASA ISS042-E-178671]

New Zealand from the international Space Station [photo NASA ISS042-E-178671]

As I have said in earlier blogs New Zealand is deep in drought which is easily seen in this photo I took near Lincoln on the Canterbury Plains while there last week. Not at all mushroom collecting weather.

Drought on the Canterbury Plain, near Lincoln [photo Geoff Ridley]

Drought on the Canterbury Plain, near Lincoln [photo Geoff Ridley]

On Saturday we went out along State Highway 72 which runs north-south along the western side of the Canterbury Plains and the foothills of the Southern Alps. We had a brief stop at Stavely and and walked some of the Sharplin Falls track (note: just to the left of the S in satellite photo above). We couldn’t get to the falls due to a rock fall.

Bridge at the start of the Sharplin Falls' Track [photo Geoff Ridley]

Bridge at the start of the Sharplin Falls’ Track [photo Geoff Ridley]

In contrast the dry plains to the east the foot hills carry native forest including southern beech. Along the track it was black beech (Nothofagus solandi now known as Fuscospora solandri). The forest here was damp underfoot however it is still generally too early for mushrooms.

Southern beech forest, Sharplin Falls [photo Geoff Ridley]

Southern beech forest, Sharplin Falls [photo Geoff Ridley]

However just to remind me that “seek, ye shall find” I came across this group of mushrooms fruiting from a deep and damp moss mound. It is a false chanterelle.

Hygrophoropsis coacta [photo Geoff Ridley]

Hygrophoropsis coacta [photo Geoff Ridley]

Hygrophoropsis coacta [photo Geoff Ridley]

Hygrophoropsis coacta [photo Geoff Ridley]

Ross MacNabb named this as a new species, Hygrophoropsis coacta, in 1969. He described it’s cap as slightly curved when young and becoming depressed or slightly funnel shaped when mature, 1.5-5 cm diameter, smooth or at most very finely felted, and pallid yellow, pallid orange-yellow, or pallid apricot. One remarkable characteristic is the gills which run down the stem, are forked, and are orange in colour.

Hygrophoropsis coacta, top of cap [photo Geoff Ridley]

Hygrophoropsis coacta, top of cap [photo Geoff Ridley]

Hygrophoropsis coacta, forked orange gills [photo Geoff Ridley]

Hygrophoropsis coacta, forked orange gills [photo Geoff Ridley]

Ross McNabb considered it different enough from the European species Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca to be a separate species. However Egon Horak in 1979 did not agree and said that H.coacta was the same as H.aurantiaca, which made H.aurantiaca pan-global occurring on every continent. This seems unlikely and I think that it is worth keeping H.coacta as a separate species until better evidence is available.

Hygrophoropsis coacta does not seem to have been seen often and Shirley Kerr has a nice photo of it at her Exploring the Kaimai Bush website.

References

Horak E, 1979. Paxilloid Agaricales in Australasia. Sydowia 32: 154-166.

McNabb, RFR, 1969. The Paxillaceae of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 7: 349-362. See here


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.


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